How Clean Is Your Smile?
6/17/2011 8:29:00 PM -
Brushing is important but it won't remove the plaque and particles of food between your teeth, under the gumline or under braces. You'll need to floss (loose strands of fine silk for teeth cleaning) these spaces at least once a day.
The type of floss you choose depends on how much space you have between your teeth. Dentists usually recommend unwaxed floss because it's thinner and easier to slide through small spaces. However, studies have shown that there is no major difference in the effectiveness based on the type of floss used.
With any floss, you should be careful to avoid injuring your gums.
Follow these instructions:
Carefully insert the floss between two teeth, using a back and forth motion. Gently bring the floss to the gumline, but don't force it under the gums. Curve the floss around the edge of your tooth in the shape of the letter 'C' and slide it up and down the side of each tooth.
Repeat this process between all your teeth and remember to floss the back sides of your back teeth.
The Nutrition Connection
Eating sugar, as you probably know already, is a major cause of tooth decay. But it's not just how much sugar you eat — when and how you eat it can be just as important to keeping teeth healthy.
When you eat sugary foods or take minerals frequently throughout the day, the enamel that protects your teeth is constantly exposed to acids. Hard toffees, cough drops and breath mints that contain sugar are especially harmful because they dissolve slowly in your mouth. Many experts suggest that you take a three-hour break between eating foods containing sugar.
Sugary or starchy foods eaten with a meal are less harmful to your teeth than when they are eaten alone, possibly because the production of saliva, which washes away the sugar and bacteria, is increased.
Eating sugary foods before you go to bed can be the most damaging (especially if you don't brush your teeth afterward) because you don't produce as much saliva when you sleep.
For most people, it's hard to cut out sweets completely, so try to follow these more realistic guidelines:
• Eat carbohydrates (sugars and starches) with a meal.
• If you can't brush your teeth after eating, rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash, or chew sugarless gum.
• Don't eat sugary foods between meals.
• If you take some snacks, eat non-sugary foods, such as cheese, popcorn, raw vegetables or yoghurt.
Going to the dentist
The main reason for going to the dentist regularly — every six months — is for prevention. The goal is to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and other disorders that put the health of your teeth and mouth at risk.
Dental caries (tooth decay) can attack the teeth at any age. In fact, most 17-year-olds have the disease. If left untreated, caries can cause severe pain and result in tooth loss.
Losing teeth affects how you look and feel about yourself, as well as your ability to chew and speak.
Treating caries is also expensive. So prevention and early treatment are important.
It may surprise you to know that majority of 15-year-olds experience gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis, which involves the gums but not the underlying bone and ligament, is almost always caused by an accumulation of plaque. As with caries, treatment can be expensive.
If you remove plaque regularly and follow good oral hygiene habits, your gums usually will return to their healthy state. However, more serious gum disease can cause gums to swell, turn red and bleed, and sometimes causes discomfort. How dentists treat gum disease depends on the extent of the disease.