A new monkeypox outbreak among the Coronavirus pandemic has burdened the healthcare systems in many countries. Especially in the UK, many people have been unable to receive timely dental care because NHS dentistry is already severely underfunded in the UK. That is why it’s a good idea to know how to take care of your teeth.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their early stages.” Therefore, it’s important to take good care of your teeth, and you can do so at home.
Why Taking Care of Your Teeth Is Important?
According to the US National Library of Medicine, taking care of your teeth is important because it prevents “tooth decay and gum disease.” This is why, you need to get rid of the sticky film of bacteria – plaque – on your teeth. After you drink or eat something, the bacteria in the plaque will start releasing acids. This happens in a matter of minutes.
If you don’t remove this plaque, the acids will eventually erode your enamel, leaving you with a cavity. Food and bacteria can enter the cavity, and you can end up with an abscessed tooth. The plaque can also harden into tartar, which can cause inflammation and infection of the gums. In that case, you would need extensive and expensive dental work done.
How To Take Care of Your Teeth At Home?
There are a few things that you can do to prevent many oral health diseases. These are as follows:
Brush Your Teeth Twice A Day
Brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes is important. It helps remove the plaque from the teeth, protecting them from cavities, decay, gingivitis, and periodontitis. When it comes to brushing, you need to make sure that you’re getting all the surfaces.
You need to brush your teeth before your breakfast and before you go to bed at night. Some people wonder if it is a good idea to brush your teeth after having breakfast. The reason why you shouldn’t do that is that the pH of your mouth has become acidic. If you’re going to brush immediately after eating, it can weaken your enamel.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should wait for at least 60 minutes before brushing after a meal and during that, you should consider drinking water or chewing gum.
You can use an electric or manual toothbrush, but make sure you have the technique right so that you know how to take care of your teeth. It should be as follows:
- Take a soft-bristled toothbrush and add a small amount of toothpaste to it.
- Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gumline.
- Move the toothbrush in a circular motion over each tooth to ensure the removal of debris. Brush the upper and lower teeth for 1 minute each.
- Move through the outer surfaces of the teeth and then go over the biting surfaces.
- Tilt the toothbrush vertically to clean the inner surfaces of the front and bottom teeth.
- Don’t brush your teeth with too much pressure.
- Lastly, spit the toothpaste out and do not rinse your mouth with water or follow up with mouthwash. This way, the fluoride will keep protecting the teeth.
An electric toothbrush can be easier to work with because they come with timers and pressure sensors to help guide you. No matter the kind of toothbrush you’re using, once its bristles are frayed, you need to replace it.
Use A Flouride Toothpaste
Fluoride can help strengthen the enamel and prevent tooth decay. It also helps in the remineralisation of your teeth. Therefore, it’s better to use fluoride toothpaste. It’s important to note that fluoride toothpaste comes in different concentrations. You should ask your dentist how much you need, and they can prescribe you one accordingly.
There are also other “special” kinds of toothpaste that can address other oral health concerns. There are some that care for tartar, while there are others that help with whitening. So, you can also consider using these.
Remember to Floss
While brushing can effectively remove plaque from the outer surfaces of the teeth, it can’t really access the spaces between them. That’s what dental floss helps with. According to a survey by YouGov, only 31% of Brits floss on a daily basis. This is when the NHS advised people above the age of 12 that they should floss every day. The survey also noted that more men had “dirty mouths” compared to women.
Flossing is important to remove the food particles, bacteria, and debris stuck between your teeth. This is an important part of the “how to take care of your teeth.” Some people don’t do it because they don’t deem it necessary, but that’s not true. The bristles of the brush cannot get to the area between your teeth.
Many people also avoid flossing because it makes their gums bleed. That’s normal when you do it the first time, and it should not happen once you get into the habit of flossing. In fact, by flossing your teeth, you’re preventing bleeding gum by not getting them inflamed.
Have a Healthy Diet
What you put into your mouth will affect your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth love sugar just as much as you do, and they can use it to damage your teeth. Acidic and sugary foods (even natural foods) can cause the erosion of your enamel, cavities, and even the loss of teeth. Therefore, you should make sure to have a balanced diet and do not overconsume foods like the following:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons)
- Sticky candies (caramel)
- Dry fruit
If you consume foods that have the potential to erode the enamel, the ADA recommends:
- Using a straw
- Chewing a gum
- Eating dairy or calcium-rich food to neutralize the acids
- Drinking water
Keep in mind that these foods can affect your teeth in different ways. For instance, alcohol can damage the teeth because it has a lot of sugar. But it can also decrease the production of saliva in the mouth. It can damage the teeth and leave you with bad breath.
Do Not Smoke
Another thing’s that a part of the “how to take care of your teeth” is avoiding smoking. Smoking has numerous health risks, most notably cancer. There are different ways in which smoking affects the teeth:
- Smoking constricts blood vessels delaying wound healing,
- Decreases the secretion of saliva,
- Creates an environment that supports bacteria in the mouth, resulting in plaque formation, cavities, decay, and tooth loss,
- Increases risk of oral cancer.
Many smokers experience oral health problems far more than non-smokers. And smoking will not only affect your mouth but also the rest of your body. If it’s difficult for you to access dental care, then it’s important that you know how to take care of your teeth. And one of the most important things in this regard is quitting smoking.
Avoid Bad Habits Involving Your Teeth
There are many people who use their teeth for things other than eating. And it’s almost always never good for the teeth themselves. One of the worst habits involving the teeth is nail-biting. According to the ADA, not only can this chip your teeth but also cause “jaw dysfunction.”
If you’re someone who likes to chew on ice, your teeth and any dental restorations are likely to be chipped, too. It is also common for people to use their teeth as tools, where they open a bag of chips or cut tapes with them. This can also be dangerous. And lastly, many people chew on pens or their caps, which can also crack your teeth. Moreover, they’re a choking hazard.
Teeth grinding is another problem, although many people do it without realising it. A night guard can help with that. However, it’s also a good idea to try and understand why it is that you’re grinding your teeth. Many people do it because of stress. So, you can start by addressing that.
Try Salt Water Rinses
While salt water rinses are usually recommended for a sore throat or after a dental procedure, you can also try them normally. These rinses can create an environment which is not favourable to the bacteria in your mouth, thus helping to reduce plaque formation and the incidence of problems that follows that. This is another way by which you can know how to take care of your teeth.
Salt water rinses can also help reduce inflammation and swelling and soothe ulcers by drying them out. However, keep in mind that these rinses do not cure any underlying oral health conditions like gum infection. For that, you’d have to visit your dentist.
Prevention is always better than cure. It’s important for you to learn how to take care of your teeth. Because it will save you time and money in the long run. Any worsening oral health condition can require more extensive repair work, even surgery, which can be quite expensive and require downtime. Therefore, do your best to ensure the maintenance of excellent oral hygiene while you’re stuck at home.