Oral hygiene - keep your teeth clean

While it’s important to have a professional cleaning from time to time, your at-home routine will have a big impact on your oral health as well.

Brushing your teeth

This one might seem like common sense, but there are some important brushing tips and techniques to keep in mind when cleaning your teeth at home.

First, aim to brush your teeth at least twice a day – in the morning and before you go to bed at night. You may also need to brush after having certain foods or drinks (especially sugary, sticky ones), but be sure to wait 20-30 minutes. This is particularly true if you’ve just eaten something acidic like grapefruits or oranges. Acids can weaken the enamel; brushing straight away spreads the acid around and can potentially damage the enamel while your teeth are still in this weakened state. Rinsing your mouth with water after you’ve eaten sweet or acidic food can also help to keep your teeth healthy.  

Make sure to brush in a gentle, circular motion – avoid roughly “scrubbing” your teeth back and forth, since this can damage your gums and enamel. Try to reach every surface of your teeth: front, back, top and sides. Some people find it easier to brush in a certain order (e.g. lower back molars first, then move to the front). Brushing in sections can mean you’re less likely to skip whole areas by accident.

It’s usually best to brush with a fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride strengthens your enamel and can help you prevent decay. However, for kids under six, only use a toothpaste with a low fluoride concentration. Children only need a small, pea-sized dab of paste. If you have any questions about the best type of toothpaste for you or your child, talk to a dentist or dental hygienist at one of our local Bupa owned clinics.

Flossing and cleaning between teeth

Flossing each day can help you remove plaque from between your teeth. Use a piece of floss between your teeth with a slow and gentle sawing motion. Try to avoid sharply jamming the floss into your gums.

Dental tape is another useful tool for cleaning those difficult-to-reach areas. This is a wide ribbon of nylon which is actually thinner than most traditional types of floss.

For more tips on cleaning between your teeth, just ask your dental hygienist or dentist.

Keeping a tooth-friendly diet

Regularly cleaning your teeth and gums is important no matter what type of food you eat. At the same time, it’s helpful to watch what you eat and try to limit foods that may be problematic for oral health.

The most important thing to watch out for is excess sugar. Sugar converts to acid in your mouth and can contribute to decay and cavities. Sugary, fizzy drinks are some of the worst offenders so try to avoid them when you can, or swish water through your mouth right after you drink them. 

Try swapping out some sugary snacks or drinks for healthier alternatives. For instance, trade dried fruit or fruit juices (which are often super sugary!) for actual fruit. Instead of eating yoghurt with added sugar, try a natural or Greek style yoghurt with some crunchy muesli or fresh fruit on top.

Munch on foods that encourage saliva production since saliva helps rebuild minerals in the tooth enamel (a process called “remineralisation”). Good choices include celery, hard cheeses or unsalted nuts.

Other tips

Depending on your own oral health and history, you may have certain areas that need greater attention than others. Talk to your dentist for recommendations on a personalised hygiene plan and further tips on keeping your gums and teeth healthy!

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