The best way to care for your teeth

Take time to care for your smile.

Written by Dr William Ha

When it comes to keeping your teeth clean and healthy, the first step is of course brushing well. It is best to brush your teeth morning and night, spending two minutes each time to make sure you do a thorough job.

But most people think of brushing, and only brushing, as the start and end of maintaining clean teeth. However there is much more to cleaning teeth to ensure a healthy mouth.

Here are a few other things you should know.

Yes, you should floss

The purpose of flossing is to clean between the teeth. Food can get stuck between teeth and stagnate, so it's good to get into the habit of flossing regularly. If you floss your teeth once a day, before you brush your teeth at night, that’s usually enough.

The biggest tip I have for regular flossing is to keep your floss next to your toothbrush. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.The next tip is to floss before you brush because it means that when you brush, your toothpaste has a chance to go between your teeth.

If you are having trouble with flossing, whether it be that it’s hard to do, your gums bleed or it hurts, let your dentist know. Very few people have been shown how to floss properly – it’s much easier once you’ve been shown how.

What about mouthwash?

If you’ve flossed your teeth, followed by brushing, there wouldn’t be much bacteria left for mouthwash to kill. Mouthwash is substantially inferior to brushing and flossing.

Mouthwash can be useful in special circumstances, but unless otherwise recommended by your dentist, you should focus on flossing and brushing well. Mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing or flossing.

"One way to increase the absorption of the toothpaste is to keep it in your mouth for a few minutes after brushing."

Extra care for sensitive teeth

Sensitive teeth and cavity-prone teeth benefit from increased exposure to toothpaste. Toothpastes contain minerals that are absorbed by teeth to reduce sensitivity and strengthen the teeth.

One way to increase the absorption of the toothpaste is to keep it in your mouth for a few minutes after brushing while you do your hair or shave, and then spitting out the toothpaste afterwards. The longer the toothpaste is in your mouth, the stronger your teeth will be and the less sensitive they will be.

However, if you have sensitive teeth, it’s important to see your dentist to ensure there isn’t a cavity growing. You don’t want to simply mask the pain of a problem. Teeth are sensitive for a reason, and that reason needs to be established.

Drinking water

Regular hydration with plain water is vital to good oral health as well as overall health for the body. Water washes off food from your teeth as well as improving your saliva’s ability to protect your teeth.

Have a glass of water with every meal and try to drink a glass of water between each meal.

"Go to the dentist every six months, so they can examine your teeth, clean the hard-to-reach places, remove resistant plaque and provide preventative advice."

How often should you see the dentist?

The common recommendation is to go to your dentist every six months. This visit is for your dentist to actively maintain the health of your teeth by examining your teeth, cleaning the hard-to-reach places, remove resistant plaque and provide preventative advice relevant to any potential foreseeable problems.

If your teeth require more monitoring, your dentist may suggest a more frequent review period such as three months. If your teeth are in great condition the advice may be yearly or even less frequently.

What if my dentist advised me to do things differently?

That’s okay – your dentist knows your mouth best. Everybody, and every mouth, is different. If your dentist has taken the time to assess your health and habits, then the advice they are giving you is the best for you.

Find a Medibank Members' Choice dentist at medibank.com.au

Written by Dr William Ha

Dr William Ha is a dentist and app developer. https://www.linkedin.com/in/drwilliamha/

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