We live for our skincare routines – ensuring that our cleanse, tone, moisturise scenario plays out twice a day to leave our skin soft and spot-free. It’s the same with make-up; there’s endless products from foundation to lipstick that we use every day to look and feel our best. But, it seems many of us don’t give the same dedication to caring about our teeth.
Dental hygiene is one of the most important parts of our daily routine. Often not prioritised – aside from brushing – it is not deemed an everyday step to follow. We all know that we are supposed to brush twice a day and visit our dentist once to twice a year to make sure everything is in check. Flossing, mouth wash and all these other bits are things we know should fit into our oral hygiene routine somewhere – but somehow they don’t always make the cut. It’s hard to know what’s important, and where to start.
So we’ve broken down the essential steps of dental hygiene, so we can all put a little more effort into caring for our teeth, in the same way we do our skin.
Gum disease is one of the most commonly spread health conditions from which the nation suffers. It can cause bleeding, ulcers and even go as far as leading to loss of teeth.
According to Dr. Jerome Sebah, founder of the Dentist Gallery and Waterpik ambassador, bleeding gums are an alarm from your mouth asking you to clean it again. “If your gums are bleeding, it means there is an inflammation and plaque is under the gum.” Dental plaque is a combination of bacteria and food stuck to the teeth. If not cleaned properly, it can calcify and cause inflammations which are not only painful but could lead to gingivitis, he cautions. “Regular flossing is necessary to reduce the bleeding – it is a sign of the plaque being removed and will stop with time and commitment to flossing.”
Do the Floss
Floss at least once a day. This should be an imperative part of your dental hygiene. If you start to notice your gums are bleeding, you should up your flossing game; if they bleed regularly, Dr. Sebah recommends seeing your hygienist or dentist. It will be uncomfortable at first but after frequent flossing, you and your teeth will get used to it and you will have healthy gums in no time.
Plenty of people are loyal to the old school dental floss string. Give yourself enough string to work with – you need about an inch or two to use on your teeth but if you struggle with holding your grip, wind an extra few inches around your middle finger – this also helps for replenishing floss for the next teeth. Hold the floss tight – you don’t want it going anywhere – and gently ease it between your teeth. Move it underneath your tooth, next to the gum for maximum effect. Never snap or force the floss as this could damage your delicate gum tissue; instead, use a gentle back-and-forth motion to move it down your teeth and back up again.
Try new tools
Alternatively you can use the newer and trendier water flosser tool. Dr. Sebah encourages the use of these to make a positive impact on your oral hygiene. If you want to give these a go, it gives more of a trip-to-the-dentist feel afterwards. They’re a little trickier to get the hang of so it’s up to you if you want to try one of these out or stick with your trusty dental floss string.
For water flossers, lukewarm water is best, especially if you have with sensitive teeth and it is recommended to start off at the back teeth and come forward, holding the flosser in place to clean each individual tooth. Just like with an electric toothbrush, there’s a lot less manual work to be done here. But be careful – keep the flosser pointed at your teeth to avoid your bathroom becoming a waterpark and hold the tool at a 90-degree angle for most efficient use. As with anything, the more you practise, the easier it becomes and you’ll get the hang of this new (outside of a dentist’s chair) floss method in no time. Most water flossers are also portable, cordless and super easy to pack for travel use – so you don’t have to worry about slipping in this routine when you go away on trips.
As established, we all know brushing twice a day is an imperative part of dental hygiene. It’s also essential to remember to replace your toothbrush regularly. Every three to four months is advised but you’ll need to keep an eye on the condition of the brush too. If the bristles are too flat, they are less effective in their cleaning. No matter how close you are with someone – your family, your partner, your BFF – do not share your toothbrush. You don’t know what bacteria lies in someone else’s mouth.
No one likes to have bad breath but people often think it’s just a case of passing on the garlic-laden food at lunch. Unfortunately it takes more than that to combat the oral inconvenience. Dr. Sebah confirms that “bad breath always – well 90 per cent of the time – comes from the bacteria on the tongue.” Use mouthwash when you can (particularly before bedtime) to both combat bad breath and complete your dental hygiene routine.