Dental homecare; Rinse, Flossing and eating habits
Everyone wants to enjoy the benefits of tip-top oral hygiene: a pearly white smile, fresh-smelling breath, and healthy pink gums. Making sure your mouth stays healthy is a major reason for visiting the dentist — and there’s nothing like that squeaky-clean feeling you get all around your mouth after you’ve had a routine checkup(link with dental checkups) and a professional cleaning! Hopefully, you see your dentist twice a year; but in between visits, it’s up to you to maintain a healthy mouth.
To help you achieve that goal, we’ve prepared a list of ten things you can do at home. These range from simple everyday routines (like using the right toothbrush) to changes that promote a healthier lifestyle — quitting smoking, for example. Taken together over the course of a lifetime, these practices can help everyone improve their oral health, and get all the benefits that come with it: a great-looking smile and a healthier body.
Best Ways to Clean Your Teeth and Gums at Home
Proper teeth and gum care does not require excessive time or expensive oral hygiene instruments. Avoiding simple sugars, and implementing daily gentle tooth brushing and flossing is the basic foundation. Additionally, not smoking, drinking plenty of water, and getting regular dental cleanings and checkups are needed to keep gums healthy and teeth cavity free.
Learn How to brush
Brushing teeth with fluoridated toothpaste is the best method of reducing plaque. The dentists recommend brushing for 2 minutes, twice daily. Proper brushing technique cleans teeth and gums effectively. Keep the following tips in mind:
Do use the right toothbrush
That means a soft-bristled multi-tufted toothbrush, with a head that’s small enough to get comfortably all around your mouth, and a handle that’s easy to grip. If you have trouble holding a regular brush (due to arthritis, for example), you might want to consider getting a good-quality power toothbrush. And don’t forget to change your brush when the bristles start to get too soft or worn — about every three months, on average. Ask your dentist or hygienist to demonstrate exactly how to use your toothbrush and any other hygiene aids, so that you know you’re using them effectively to remove biofilm (bacterial plaque) and not doing any damage in the process.
Don’t brush too hard or too often (more than twice a day)
If brushing twice a day is good, then three times a day is better… right? Wrong! Brushing too often — or too hard — can cause gum recession, and damage the root surfaces of the teeth by abrading them. Exposed roots may be quite sensitive and at greater risk for decay. These surfaces also are not covered by the super-hard enamel that protects the crowns of your teeth (the part seen above the gum line), and therefore they wear quicker. It doesn’t take a lot of elbow grease to remove trapped food particles and bacterial plaque — a gentler and more sustained effort (brushing moderately for about two minutes, morning and night) is preferred. If your mouth needs a little freshening up in between, try eating something fibrous like apples, carrots or celery.
Brush at a 45-degree angle
The angle of the brush is important, the toothbrush should be placed against the teeth at a 45-degree angle to the gum line.
Using short gentle back, forth, and small circular motions, all tooth surfaces will be gently brushed, avoid a sawing or scrubbing motion.
Brush the tongue
Use your toothbrush to do a light brushing of the tongue.
Keep the mouth clean after brushing
Avoid eating for 30 minutes after brushing.
A toothbrush should be replaced at least every 3 months, as well as after any illness.
Daily flossing is necessary for removing plaque and food particles that your toothbrush cannot reach. The area just beneath the gum line and the tight spaces between teeth are vulnerable areas where plaque can build up and turn to tartar.
If you do not floss regularly, the build-up of plaque and tartar can lead to cavities, as well as gum disease.
Do floss at least once a day
It’s been said many times, many ways… and it’s still true. Flossing is the best way to remove plaque in places where your brush just can’t reach: in between the teeth. Plaque that isn’t removed leads to tooth decay and gum disease. So you can see where this is going. If you need a refresher in flossing techniques, just ask your dentist — but don’t neglect this important part of your oral hygiene routine. You’re only 50% done if you just brush! And toothpicks, while helpful, don’t do the job that floss does.
Don’t brush or floss immediately after drinking acidic beverages (like soda, sports drinks and juices)
This might seem strange at first: isn’t that when you’d want to brush? Actually it’s not, and here’s why: Acids “soften” the hard enamel covering of your teeth by dissolving the superficial layer/s. Ever notice how gritty your teeth feel directly after drinking a Coke? That’s the acid at work immediately. Acids in sodas, sports drinks and juices dissolve calcium out of the surface enamel by a process called de-mineralization. But saliva, which is rich in minerals, has a natural neutralizing and buffering ability that will re-mineralize enamel surfaces affected by acid. However, this can take 30-60 minutes. That softened surface layer can easily be removed with a toothbrush. Just like being over-vigorous, brushing right after you consume acidic food or drinks can have very negative consequences for your teeth leading to significant enamel erosion. It’s best to wait at least one hour to allow your saliva enough time to neutralize the acidic attack.
Foods to eat and avoid
There is overwhelming evidence that sugars are the biggest dietary contributor to dental disease. Specifically, it is the amount and frequency of free sugars consumed that determines the severity of decay.
Food and drink to avoid
Sugar and candy intake should be limited; this is because the bacteria in the mouth need sugar to produce the acids that weaken enamel and damage teeth. Each time teeth are exposed to sugar, the demineralization process begins, and it can take up to an hour for the mouth to return to normal, non-acidic pH conditions.
Specifically try to avoid:
- sweets and sugary snacks
- fast food, which is known to contain sugars
Other fermentable carbohydrates are also involved:
- breakfast cereals
Studies show that consumption of starchy staple foods and fresh fruit are associated with lower levels of dental caries, so the risk is not as high as sugar.
Consuming a variety of foods rich in nutrients and avoiding those that contain sugars and starches is important for keeping teeth and gums healthy.
Food and drink to consume with caution
Crunchy fruit and vegetables such as apples, pears, celery, and carrots are good in between meals as the chewing activity increases the production of saliva, and saliva helps protect teeth.
Water should be consumed liberally, and any soft drink or fruit juice beverage (diet and regular), should be consumed with caution.
Most soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, which interferes with the body's ability to absorb calcium. Fruit juices will also bathe the teeth in damaging sugar. Drinking these beverages through a straw can help minimize the time the teeth are exposed to the acid. Chewing sugarless gum for 10 minutes after meals and snacks can also help reduce decay.
Vitamin Supplements for Better Gums
Vitamin C makes wounds heal faster. It may not cure the gingivitis itself, but this supplement will help bleeding gums to resolve. People can take vitamin C in a tablet form (500 mg) or by eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and brussels sprouts.
Gingivitis treatment is of utmost importance when you first see the symptoms appear in your mouth. Between professional dental care and oral hygiene habits at home your gum issues should begin to get better with continuous care.
Do drink enough water
Keeping your mouth moist is really important. Mouth dryness increases biofilm (plaque) accumulation and your risk for both tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. Mouth dryness is caused by smoking, alcohol, caffeine and especially some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Because we tend to take more medications as we age, we should also drink more water. Drinking plenty of water and keeping well hydrated has a number of health benefits for your entire body. In your mouth, it keeps sensitive tissues moist, and promotes the healthful action of saliva. Saliva not only buffers acids, as mentioned above — it also aids digestion, helps the mouth fight germs, and even has a role in protecting the teeth from decay.
Make Sure Your Water Contains Fluoride
Fluoride is a mineral that has been proven to protect teeth from tooth decay and prevent cavities in both children and adults. In most areas, tap water is fluoridated, i.e. it contains fluoride levels that are optimized to help prevent tooth decay.
Choosing to drink tap water instead of bottled water is a good way to make sure everyone in your family is getting the right amount of fluoride. If you use a filtration system, choose a filter that doesn't filter out your water's fluoride content.
Do the tongue test to check cleanliness of teeth
Even after brushing, how do you know whether you’ve cleaned your teeth effectively? You could chew a special “disclosing tablet” with a harmless dye that shows any areas of bacterial plaque you have missed — or you could try another simple method: Run your tongue all over the surfaces of your teeth, front and back. If they feel nice and smooth — especially down at the gum line — chances are you’ve done a good brushing job. If you’re not sure, use the disclosing tablets to see what areas you are missing.
Do inform your dentist if you notice bleeding gums or lumps, bumps, ulcers
Many times, changes in the environment of your mouth are harmless — but some could be early warnings of disease. Be sure to let your dentist know when you notice anything unusual: bleeding, sensitivity, pain, discoloration, a sore or a lump, or any other signs or symptoms that are not normal. He or she will examine the area for signs of disease, and let you know if it needs treatment. That’s one more reason why regular dental checkups are so important for your oral health.
Don’t start bad oral health habits
Some of these you already know: using any tobacco products, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, and chewing on pencils or fingernails — all have negative consequences for your oral health. Other bad habits are less well-known. For example, getting an oral piercing increases the chance for tooth chipping and gum problems. A clenching or grinding habit can cause damage to your teeth, jaw joints and muscles, especially during sleep when you are unaware of it. And playing sports without a mouthguard multiplies your chances for dental injury. Ask your dentist for advice on curbing habits that are harmful to your oral — and general — health.