It is essential to take care of teeth and engage in the practice of good oral hygiene daily. Good oral hygiene means teeth are clean and free of food debris, that gums are healthy and pink without pain or bleeding when brushing or flossing, and bad breath is not a common factor. Oral care is vital to good oral health, which is important to overall general health.
Daily oral care should include brushing and flossing to prevent problems from developing. Regular visits to your dentist are also very important as he/she can assist you in learning techniques to maintain good oral health. The dentist will also be able to identify potential problems before they become painful, worrisome and potentially expensive.
Dental cavities can be prevented by a low level of fluoride constantly maintained in the oral cavity. Fluoride can be obtained from fluoridated drinking water, salt, milk, mouth rinse or toothpaste, as well as from professionally applied fluorides. Long-term exposure to an optimal level of fluoride results in fewer cavities in both children and adults.
The South African Dental Association (SADA) recommends these simple steps to assist in oral care:
- It is preferable to select a soft or extra soft bristle toothbrush to prevent the risk of harming the gums.
- Brush thoroughly at least twice a day, and especially before going to bed.
- Brush for at least two minutes at a time to ensure that all teeth are reached and food debris is removed.
- Too much brushing can damage gums.
- Do not apply too much pressure to the head of the toothbrush when brushing.
- Replace toothbrushes at least every three months.
- If toothbrush bristles are flaring it is time to replace the toothbrush and is a possible indication that you are brushing too hard.
- Brushing the tongue removes bacteria in the oral cavity.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Follow the curves of the teeth when flossing.
- Do not snap floss on to the gums when cleaning between teeth.
- Use toothpaste or dental care products which contain fluoride.
- Toothpastes have ingredients to assist with the prevention of decay, plaque and tartar control, gum care and sensitivity.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Limit snacks.
- Visit your dentist regularly especially if experiencing pain or bad breath.
- Discuss fluoride supplement requirements for children under the age of 12 years with your dentist.
Source: Discovery Health