Common Oral Health Mistakes
Are you taking proper care of your teeth? Learn to avoid some common mistakes.
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For many of us, teeth are a secondary thought, they do their job and as long as they don’t hurt, don’t seem to need a lot of maintenance.
This is unfortunately far from the truth, as teeth are constantly being affected by what we eat, what we do and the chemicals we use such as toothpastes and mouthwashes.
The teeth are often a hidden issue, as they do not behave like a bruise or cut, the growing damage is usually not visible until it is far too late.
In this article I shall offer guidance into the how’s and why’s of tooth maintenance, and offer instruction that may assist your own daily routine.
It is important to know that teeth are not just a solid mass for biting and chewing, each one is an intricate collection of 4 types of integrated tissue, pulp, dentin, enamel and cementum.
Pulp sits inside the tooth and contains connective tissues, nerves and blood vessels.
Dentin surrounds and protects the pulp, it's hard bone-like density gives teeth their natural yellow tint.
Enamel is the exceptionally hard outer shell that forms the crowns outermost layer, this is our natural protection from bacteria and from heat and cold sensitivities.
Cementum sits under the gumline, protecting the root and holding the tooth in place.
All of these tissues need protecting from the constant bombardment of modern living, enhanced products and today’s increased stresses.
How to brush your teeth
Oral Health is something so easily taken for granted, brushing seems like a logical process and flossing is something that many of us only include later in life and again seems fairly straightforward.
Unfortunately there is much more to correct tooth brushing than many of us realise, and it is in these finer details that ongoing premium oral healthcare resides.
From a very young age we are told to ‘Brush our Teeth’ but this phrasing does not explain the ‘why’ we do it.
‘Brushing the teeth’ properly actually extends well beyond the teeth, as it is very often the gumline where issues begin to cultivate.
Oral bacteria works its way into these unseen places and only noticeably affects the teeth once the gums are infected.
So, on that basis, the first set of tips are all about correct brushing.
Tip 1: Gum brushing
Ensure to brush across the line of the gums preferably at a 45° angle, this is absolutely paramount to dislodge settling bacteria and remove the chance of tartar build-up before it sets.
Tip 2: Pay attention to the tops
Bacteria can nestle into these ridges and go undisturbed, working their way into the tooth over time.
Tip 3: Don’t forget the back
The backs of the tooth are also a habitual breeding ground as front brushing often doesn’t disturb the bacteria hidden behind the tooth.
Tip 4: Use a soft bristled brush
Hard bristles can damage both the gumline, contributing to receding gums, and tooth enamel, weakening the tooths defensive barrier.
Tip 5: Replace your brush often
Frequently replace your brush, every 3 to 4 months is the recommended maximum.
Toothbrush heads are designed specifically to target bacteria, once the bristles become misaligned, bacteria is likely to get missed.
Tip 6: 2 minutes twice a day
Thorough brushing is essential, you must target all areas of the tooth surface and the gumline, at the times when they are most vulnerable to bacteria.
When skipping on a thorough routine, tartar and the resultant biofilms will not be properly removed, this can lead to deposits of plaque, gum inflammation, halitosis (bad breath) and ultimately, cavities.
We all know about brushing at night, but overnight new bacteria can be produced and allowed to fester due to decreased saliva production during sleep.
Morning brushing also ensures a clean foundation to start the day.
The next critical mistake that factors heavily in tooth decay is either not flossing at all, or flossing incorrectly.
When flossing it is important to change the angle of the flossing action several times during each floss, this ensures that all sides of the gap have been addressed including (and essentially) the gum root.
It is also critical to focus specifically on each gap, going backwards and forwards atleast 3 or 4 times to free stubborn particles and make sure every part of the surface is addressed.
Flossing can cause bleeding but this is not a sign to stop, bleeding helps to combat infection and flossing more is actually a better choice but always feel free to consult your dentist if you have concerns.
In the flossing category we can also place specialist brushes, such as interdental and tepee brushes, these are ‘made for the task’ brushes of differing head sizes that can fully fill a gap and free debris that brushing and perhaps even flossing cannot reach.
These specialist brushes should be utilised in the same way as flossing, focussing on each gap in a concentrated way rather than seeing it as a chore and only briefly poking the brush in once. This seems like a small thing but is a significant contributor to managing potential gum disease.
Ongoing oral mistakes
Once you have a solid tooth brushing routine in place, it is important to address other areas which may be contributing to poor oral health.
There are many small daily mistakes that many of us have never heard of, that over time can add up to significant issues, among these are:
Brushing too soon after eating
Instinctively, after eating you may feel like you want to clean your teeth, much as getting dirty hands warrants a trip to the sink, we feel the same about our teeth.
Studies now show that this is a bad idea. When we eat we soften the enamel of our teeth and brushing while the enamel is in this softened state can actually damage it.
Brushing an hour afterwards gives the teeth ample time to regain their strength.
Don’t brush too hard
It is very easy when not paying attention to put a little extra downward pressure in your brushing action, this has 2 negative impacts, one is to damage tooth enamel making it prime for bacterial attack, and it can also weaken the connection between tooth and gum. As a third note, it is also less effective than softer brushing.
A few tell-tale signs that you are brushing too hard might be a scattered brush head in under 2 months, or an increase in tooth or gum sensitivity or appearance.
Electric brushes are best with soft bristled heads, some of these even come with a pressure indicator that monitors the intensity of your brush stroke.
How to store your brush
This is one of the little known factors of toothbrush care.
As your brush sits in a drawer or led on its side it can remain wetter for longer, and so has a much greater likelihood of developing its own bacteria!
This is then brushed into the teeth and joins forces with the daily bacteria already there. Correct storage is to sit it upright with a protective guard on the brush head.
Beyond the Brush
As well as brushing itself and correct toothbrush care, there are other factors that can severely damage your dental wellbeing.
You may have a stellar and highly disciplined tooth cleaning regime, but consuming lots of sugar will still have an impact, sugar consumption will embed into the gumline over time despite our best efforts. It is also a significant contributor to many other debilitating health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
High sugar drinks are one of the leading problems in today’s oral health, with a 16 ounce drink containing as much as 30 grams of sugar. Sugars are essentially carbohydrates that the bacteria already in your mouth like to feed on, add to this their acidic nature and we can see that sugars are extremely harmful to our health.
A better option would be green tea, black tea, or even coffee, all of which not only have a lot less sugar but also have other intrinsic health benefits.
If you are concerned about staining from these options, sipping through a straw can effectively combat this.
Overall, if you consume a lot of sugar, the advice is simple, cut down.
Not drinking enough water
Water is amazing stuff, it is essentially the oil for our engine, and the teeth will also benefit. Regular water consumption helps to reduce plaque causing bacteria between brushing. Normal tap water also contains fluoride which is a natural healthy cleaning agent for our teeth and gums.
Lack of hydration also leads to dryness which provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
Incorrect oral health products
It is so easy to see tooth brushing as a necessary add on to the weekly shop, something we can do ‘on the cheap’ to offset the cost of that luxury cake, but this is not a wise choice for your teeth.
We would recommend researching the product you use, checking for harmful health implications from the ingredients, and ensuring you use a fluoride toothpaste, consistent use of fluoride adds daily strength to your teeth and gums in the constant fight against bacteria.
It is also important to use toothpastes that are dentally approved as these contain the necessary combination of ingredients for correct tooth cleaning and daily protection.
If you already have tooth issues it is important to consult with your dentist as to the correct product for your specific needs.
Different approved toothpastes will target different elements of oral health such as ‘inflammation toothpastes’ for gingivitis, ‘fluoride toothpastes’ for cavity protection and so on, so do make sure to get the best advice for your own situation.
Beware of ‘Whitening’ products
So called ‘Whitening’ products are everywhere these days, but many do more harm than good, please seek for dentally approved brands only as these have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they perform as expected, and in a health conscious way.
Don’t wait for pain to see the dentist!
Your teeth feel fine and the last check-up was fine so what could have changed?
The answer, plenty! Skipping dental visits, especially as we get older is one of the more damaging mistakes that people make, gum disease can develop undetected and asymptomatically, turning rapidly from gingivitis into periodontitis within a few months or even weeks.
We advise that you view your dental visits and especially cleanings as essential and not optional so that any beginning issues can be addressed and any problems greatly minimised and treated.
Mouthwash as a substitute for flossing
Don’t get me wrong, the right mouthwash can be an effective deterrent for many forms of bacteria, but in no way can be seen as a reason not to floss or indeed to brush. Mouthwash must be seen as the cherry rather than the cake.
It is highly important to purchase a dentally approved brand as purchasing the wrong mouthwash can lead to poor tooth and gum protection and also cause adverse effects to other health areas, please see here to get you started: https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/best-mouthwash
Biting the nails is a hard to break habit for some and it's really not good for your teeth or your jaw. Start small by putting unpleasant (but healthy) things on your fingers to remind you when you are doing it. Then implant a time structure to things so ‘don’t bite your nails for ten minutes’, then an hour, and so on.
All non-addictive habit forms can be broken this way, and your teeth, gums and jaw will be all the better for it.
Teeth grinding, also known as Bruxism is another habit that damages teeth and gums, and over time can even weaken the jawline so if you do grind your teeth ensure to speak to your dentist or doctor about preventative measures.
Taking good care of our teeth is an important step to safeguarding our ongoing wellbeing.
The good news is that these days it is entirely possible to do this by following a disciplined oral health routine.
Ensure that you attend all recommended dentist appointments to offset any sneaky plaque build-up that could lead to greater issues, and keep on top of your own daily efforts to keep your mouth and gums clean and healthy.
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Thanks for visiting our page, and we wish you good oral health.