Everyone hates going to the dentist and yet, most of us neglect our oral hygiene. Oral hygiene doesn’t require a lot of time and effort, but it does require consistency. You need to spend less than 10 minutes every day to prevent tooth decay and save yourself a whole lot of money and pain! Tooth decay is a slow process so it’s not too late to start paying attention to your oral hygiene.
A regular dental care routine is essential for healthy teeth. You may have seen fancy dental gadgets in the store, but you don’t really need them – just a toothbrush and floss is enough to keep tooth decay at bay. Here are 5 simple ways to prevent tooth decay:
1. Brush Twice a Day
Most of us are so tired by the end of the day, that we skip brushing our teeth at night. However, studies show that brushing twice a day decreases the risk of tooth decay. Your brushing technique is equally important so start with gentle, circular motions and then move to up and down motions while keeping your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. No matter how rushed you are in the morning, experts recommend that you brush your teeth for a minimum of 2 minutes. Improper brushing leads to the build-up of plaque which can harden and turn into tartar, increasing your risk of teeth decay.
2. Brush your tongue
The bacteria that cause tooth decay thrive on your teeth as well as your tongue. Therefore, it is important to clean your tongue twice a day when you brush your teeth. You can use a tongue scrapper or your toothbrush to clean your tongue and get rid of the layer of bacteria that forms on it. Researchers found that tongue cleaning twice a day reduces the proliferation of bacteria, specifically the mutans streptococci bacteria which are associated with tooth decay. The surface of your tongue is delicate so be gentle when you scrape or brush your tongue. Tongue cleaning also improves oral environment and helps to prevent bad breath.
3. Use a fluoride toothpaste
Fluoride is a mineral that can help to prevent tooth decay in adults and children. When fluoride comes in direct contact with your teeth, it is absorbed by the enamel. This helps to make enamel harder and more resistant to tooth decay. This hardened tooth enamel is also more resistant to acid damage from foods like citrus juice and sour candies that have a high acid content. Low-fluoride toothpastes (less than 600ppm F) provide less protection from caries than high-fluoride toothpastes (1,500 ppm F). Low-fluoride toothpastes are only appropriate for children under 7 while everyone over that age will benefit from a high-fluoride toothpaste.
4. Floss at least 2-4 days a week
Most dentists recommend that you floss your teeth daily. However, if this is not possible, you should floss at least 2-4 times a week. Researchers found that flossing just 2-3 times a week helps to reduce the risk of periodontitis. Regular flossing is important because periodontitis or gum inflammation can increase the risk of tooth decay. The bristles of your toothbrush can clean the surfaces of your teeth but only flossing can remove the plaque that accumulates between your teeth. Choose dental floss according to the spacing between your teeth. If you have large gaps between your teeth, you can use dental tape or super floss. But if your teeth are set close together, you should use waxed floss instead as it will be easier to slide it into the tight spaces between your teeth.
5. Avoid Colas
Colas have been linked to a variety of health issues including diabetes, kidney problems and even cancer. Researchers found that the high acidity levels of cola cause calcium to leech out of teeth. These results show that drinking colas would cause significant enamel damage which would drastically increase the risk of tooth decay. Furthermore, the high sugar content in colas increases the proliferation of oral bacteria linked to tooth decay.
Tooth decay is always the result of inadequate dental care so if you follow your dental care routine, you will be spared the pain of caries and inflamed gums. However, you can take additional steps to improve your oral hygiene. For instance, you can munch on a few pieces of carrot during your day as the rough fiber will help to keep your teeth clean of any plaque build-up. You can also rise your mouth after every meal as this will help to get rid of food particles lodged between your teeth. Get a new toothbrush every 3-6 months as the bristles of a toothbrush start to bend after a few months and are no longer as effective. If you’ve suffered from a bout of flu recently, you should get a new toothbrush to prevent reinfection.