Because if your gums are inflamed, you may develop what is called gingivitis (a chronic bacterial infection). Bacteria seep into pockets between your teeth and gums, which produces toxins that further promote the disease. And that’s bad news because unfortunately bacteria don’t stay there. They travel to your arteries where they start building up. This accumulation and the inflammation that ensues can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
All this could be avoided with a little bit of effort in your daily mouth hygiene.
Here are some recommendations for an effective mouth hygiene.
How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth?
When and how often to brush your teeth?
Before or after breakfast?
Brush your teeth at least twice a day (one of those must be before going to bed, the other must be at least 30 minutes after having eaten or drunk something acidic or you’ll damage the enamel on your teeth – if you’re not sure if you’ve eaten anything acidic then brush before a meal – before breakfast for instance)
How to brush your teeth?
Electric or manual toothbrush?
2 or 3 minutes?
OK, here are 3 tips when it comes to brushing your teeth:
1. Use an Electric Brush
Electric brushes do most of the work for you in a far better way you could with a manual brush.
Electric brushes are more expensive but they do reduce plaque more effectively and that’s just what you want. Invest in a rechargeable electric toothbrush and recharge it regularly so it’s always at its maximum power. I use an Oral-B Electric Toothbrush and I’m really happy with it. It indicates when it needs charging and makes a noise every 30 seconds so you know how long you still have to brush. It also doesn’t cost the earth.
2. Use a Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride helps prevent decay. Pay attention to the fluoride concentration (less than 1000 parts per million for under 3 years old, 1000 to 1500 for 3 to 6 years old, at least 1445 for adults). It’s also a good idea to change your toothpastes once in a while as noxious bacteria can develop resistance to antibacterial solutions.
3. Brush in The Right Way
If you use an electric toothbrush, you do not need to press the brush strongly against your teeth, you do not need to make circular movements. You just need to make sure you cover every surface of each tooth and especially the gum line. An hygienist once recommended to me to cover the outer surface of each tooth for 3 seconds, the inner surface for 3 seconds, and the top for 1 to 2 seconds. For a grand total of 2 minutes.
A word of caution, don’t overdo the brushing (don’t scrub) as you might risk tooth brush abrasion.
The Importance of Flossing – and How To Do It
When and how to floss?
Should it hurt?
Floss at least once a day. The most important time to floss is before you go to bed. You can floss before or after brushing your teeth.
Flossing should not hurt you!
Take about 30-40cm of floss, hold it taught between your hands, slip the floss in between 2 teeth and start by gently following the side of one tooth all the way under the gum and back up again. Your hands should be positioned so that the floss makes a U shape around the tooth you’re flossing. If you do it properly you should see the floss going 1 or 2 mm under the gum line of that tooth. Go up and down 3-4 times. Then, still in the same gap, do the other tooth in the same way.
There are many different types of floss (waxed, unwaxed, tape or thread, flavoured, …). It doesn’t really matter which one you use. Try a few and choose one that fits in between your teeth if you have tight spaces. What really matters is that you floss.
If it’s the first time you floss, you may bleed because your gums are tender. This should stop after a few days. If not, go and see your dentist.
If the space between your teeth is wide, floss will not work as well. You might want to try interproximal brushes for these spaces. Make sure you use the right size brush (don’t force the brush through if it’s too large).
Mouthwash or no mouthwash?
Mouthwash can be beneficial to prevent plaque and improve gum health if it contains fluoride, chlorhexidine or other antiseptic chemicals. Try and avoid mouthwash that contain alcohol (not good for children and can dry your mouth and lips).
Finally, don’t forget to pay your dentist and hygienist regular visits.