There are an estimated 300 different species of bacteria living inside our mouths. Many of these bacteria can cause tooth decay and are spreadable just like other infectious diseases.
For a healthy smile, you must practice good oral hygiene every day those practices include:
- Brushing after meals
- Using antimicrobial mouthwash
- Flossing at least once per day
These simple practices help to keep these disease-causing bacteria from reproducing in your mouth and causing tooth decay. And, healthy diets that minimize sugary and starchy foods also helps to keep those bad bacteria under control.
Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugary foods are obvious sources of plaque, but there are others that you might not realize can cause harm. Starches—such as bread, crackers, and cereal—also cause acids to form.
In the process, these bacteria can cause tooth decay in our mouths, by feeding on the sugars in the foods and drinks we consume to grow then leaving behind the waste, in the form of a biofilm known as dental plaque. This plaque then allows all those little recyclers to stick around your teeth longer until eventually, they make acids, which wear down the tooth enamel and cause cavities.
The bacteria in the plaque that forms near the gums also produce toxic products that enter the gum tissues, causing gingivitis. If untreated, gingivitis may become periodontitis, a more serious disease where there are bone and tissue loss around the teeth.
Here are a few additional tips for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
- Reduce the daily amount of sweetened drinks.
- Drink plenty of fluoridated water with meals, and along with sweetened beverages to wash away the sugar and acids.
- Use a straw to help to reduce the contact of sweetened beverages with your teeth.
- Supplement (or replace) sugary drinks with milk, yogurt, or water.
The best way to prevent tooth decay and remove plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces. Brush your teeth twice per day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your toothbrush should fit your mouth and allow you to reach all areas easily. Use an antimicrobial toothpaste containing fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. Clean between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners to remove plaque from between the teeth, where the toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is essential to prevent gum disease.
Proper Brushing and Flossing Techniques
Here are some simple techniques to follow when brushing and flossing your teeth:
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
- Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
- Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Bring the floss back toward the contact point between the teeth and move the floss up or down the other side, conforming the floss to the shape of the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up-and-down motions.
- Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.
Use mouth rinse for added protection
A mouth rinse, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, can increase the cleanliness of your mouth. Always talk to your dentist about any new products you are interested in trying.
Maintain a healthy smile…Your health…is your responsibility!