Why Maintaining Oral Health is Important
Maintaining oral health has always been regarded as a collaborative effort between patient and dental professional. There is a worldwide movement underway to tip the balance of in favour of the individual in how decisions and choices are made about oral health.
The two main conditions affecting oral health are preventable and their impacts controllable by the individual. Dental professionals play an essential role diagnosing and repairing damage caused by dental disease but are largely ineffectual at preventing and controlling the progress of both diseases without the efforts of the individual patient. As with general health, it is primarily the role of the public assisted by health promoting policies of governments that empower individuals and communities to maintain good oral health. Here are some useful tips you can put into action immediately that will improve and protect your oral health.
Which Toothpaste Should I Use?
The most effective toothpastes are those containing 1350 to 1500 parts per million fluoride and use a pea-size amount twice a day on children over two years of age. Toothpaste with fluoride has been acknowledged worldwide as the single most important health technology of the 21st century which has helped control the epidemic of dental decay, which has been caused by our addiction to sugar based products. While controlling sugar in our diet is important for our general and oral health, eliminating it completely is unrealistic. Fluoride combines with saliva to act as a constant healing solution in our mouths, reversing the negative effects of acid causing bacteria present in dental plaque. Toothpaste technology of the most recognised brands is constantly evolving to bring extra benefits including increased effectiveness against dental decay but also effective against sensitivity and dental erosion, two widespread maladies of modern living.
Which Toothbrush Should I Use?
Use a soft bristle toothbrush or an electric toothbrush to clean teeth and gums safely and effectively. After fluoride toothpaste, a well designed soft bristle toothbrush is considered essential to protect oral health. A toothbrush has two important functions:
- It brings fluoride toothpaste to the teeth.
- It cleans the teeth and gums.
Cleaning is best carried out by a soft bristle brush because the teeth and especially the gums can be damaged by overzealous brushing. Brushing should not be carried out immediately after eating because saliva is normally acidic at this time and brushing will lead to loss of tooth enamel. Repeated brushing when saliva is acidic, leads to tooth erosion and sensitivity.
Is An Electric Toothbrush Better Than An Ordinary One?
Modern Electric Toothbrushes are proven to be more effective than ordinary brushes at removing dental plaque biofilm and because of special sensor features, do not damage the teeth or gums when carrying out routine oral hygiene. Using an electric toothbrush is highly recommended to protect oral health.
Should I Use Inter-Dental Cleaners?
For the majority of the population who do not have established gum disease and who have good oral hygiene, inter-dental cleaning is not as important as regular effective brushing with a soft bristle or an electric toothbrush. However, inter-dental cleaning is very important for people who have established gum disease or who have repeated bouts of gingival inflammation.
The type of inter-dental cleaner needed will depend on the advice of the treating dental professional. While dental professionals are expert at diagnosing gum disease, most will agree that treatment is a waste of time and money unless the patient takes total charge of the cleaning especially the inter-dental cleaning. The best type of inter-dental cleaners are inter-dental cleaning brushes which are now widely available from pharmacies and other retail outlets. Training in the use of these should be with a dentist or hygienist.
Regular and correct use of these brushes can greatly alleviate the progress of gum disease helping to keep natural teeth much longer. Dental floss is effective when there is good contact between the teeth but inter-dental brushes are much more effective when there are spaces and deep pockets around the teeth.
Are Mouthwashes Useful?
As a general guide, mouthwashes should not be used routinely as there is no need for them. However, there are specific circumstances when a mouthwash may be recommended. If a person is prone to developing dental decay because of an underlying health condition or is taking certain medications then a fluoride mouthwash can be very helpful to keep dental decay under control.
A particular type of mouthwash containing chlorhexidine can be very helpful if a person has inflammation of the gums in general or has inflammation near a wisdom tooth and normal cleaning is not possible. An effective way to use a mouthwash in addition to rinsing is to use a soft bristle toothbrush with a small head, steep it in the mouthwash and apply it carefully to the affected area every four hours. If the inflammation or soreness persists, arrange to see your dental professional for further advice. Mouthwashes containing essential oils are also effective at reducing gum inflammation.
Are Dental Irrigators any good?
For a variety of reasons some people may find normal cleaning routines uncomfortable and prefer to use oral irrigators to clean their teeth or difficult to reach areas of their mouth. Oral irrigators are effective at removing food particles between the teeth and under the gum but are not as effective as tooth-brushing for removing dental plaque biofilm. They are not as effective as dental floss or inter-dental cleaners at removing dental plaque biofilm from inter-dental areas or from root surfaces. Plaque biofilm is strongly adherent to tooth surfaces and is not easily removed by anything other than carefully designed toothbrushes.
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