Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums (Oral Hygiene)
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. Following a meal or snack, the bacteria in plaque release acids that attack tooth enamel. Repeated attacks can cause the enamel to weaken, eventually causing tooth decay. Many of the foods we eat cause plaque bacteria to produce acids. If you snack often, you could be having acid attacks all day long. Plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between teeth can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.
Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, tender or bleed easily. After a while, gums may pull away from the teeth. Pockets form and fill with more bacteria and pus. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed. The teeth may become loose or have to be removed. In fact, periodontal (gum) disease is a main cause of tooth loss in adults.
One way to prevent tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease is by eating a balanced diet and limiting the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.
The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces.
Brush your teeth twice a day, with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth, allowing you to reach all areas easily. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. When choosing any dental product, look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, an important symbol of a dental product's safety and effectiveness.
Cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners removes plaque from between the teeth, areas where the toothbrush can't reach. It is essential in preventing periodontal (gum) disease.
By taking care of your teeth, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly, you can have healthy teeth and an attractive smile your entire life.
Follow these tips to keep your teeth and mouth clean:
Proper tooth flossing technique.Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
You cannot be taught to play tennis or golf by reading about them. You must be instructed, and you must practice. Similarly, you should learn the right way of brushing under the strict supervision of your dentist.
The tooth has five surfaces - front, back, the two sides and the chewing surface. Brush the top and bottom teeth separately. Most dentists agree that the bristle tips should be applied at 45 degrees to the gum area just above where the teeth emerge and should concentrate on the gum margins (where most people miss). The bristles are moved back and forth with a gentle circular scrubbing motion and short strokes. Do not forget the teeth right at the back of the mouth and also the inside surface of the teeth. Finally brush all the biting surfaces. It often takes three or four visits to teach someone to brush effectively!
Do not put too much toothpaste on the brush, it will foam up and make you want to spit and rinse too soon. Studies show that once people get to the spit and rinse stage they stop brushing even though some teeth have not been brushed.
Do not wet your brush before applying the paste or before starting to brush. It alters the action of the bristles and prevents them removing plaque effectively.