What is your favorite part of going to the dentist? Is it walking away with teeth that look and feel extra clean and sparkly? Sometimes your teeth will feel so smooth it can be hard to keep your tongue off them. When you do not brush your teeth three times a day, or especially after something sweet, a colorless film of bacteria begins to accumulate on your teeth. These bacteria are known as plaque.
Plaque develops when you consume sweet carbohydrates such as milk, soda, candy, cake, etc. and you do not brush or chew sugarless gum immediately after consumption. If plaque is given the chance to flourish, then it will produce acids that can ultimately destroy tooth enamel leads to tooth decay. Plaque not only develops on the tooth itself but also on its roots under the gums, and when it settles there, it will cause the tooth to breakdown.
Plaque is something you do not want to let hang around for too long! Fortunately, there are ways to prevent plaque buildup, and protect your teeth from the devastating effects of the bacteria. Here are some ways to keep your teeth healthy and plaque-free.
Brush Twice Daily
Ideally, it would be best to take your toothbrush with you wherever you go to be sure you can brush after every meal. This would ensure that plaque does not stick around too long. Since this is not realistic for most people, a thorough brushing twice a day will suffice. Brushing before bedtime is especially important so that the plaque does not develop on your teeth as you sleep.
To ensure that your twice-daily brushing is enough, it is vital to brush properly by keeping your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards your gums. Brush in circular motions all around every tooth including the outsides, insides and inner parts of the tooth. Once every tooth has been cleaned, scrape your tongue to remove bacteria and to freshen your breath. This entire process should take at least two minutes, and there are brushing timers that can help you ensure you clean your teeth long enough.
Remember to use a soft-bristled toothbrush because a brush that is too rough can damage your gums. As much as you may get attached to your favorite toothbrush, it is best to replace it every three months. A toothbrush that is overused and worn down will not provide a proper brushing. However, if you want the best possible result, use an electronic toothbrush. They are more expensive, but they are also much more effective.
Floss Once Daily
Brushing teeth twice a day is good, but it is not enough. Everyone must floss once a day to avoid plaque buildup. Because the bacteria are so small, they can get into the hard-to-reach places like between your teeth. Therefore, flossing is the key to preventing plaque from getting the best of your teeth and gums. Flossing should occur once a day to ensure you are removing plaque from areas your toothbrush cannot reach. There is no right or wrong way to clean those hidden spaces; it just needs to be done and it does not matter when you do so.
You can use floss by wrapping it around your fingers to create tension as you push it between your teeth or choose a different option such as dental picks, wooden plaque removers or a small, straight brush that can go between the teeth. When you floss, move the string between your teeth but also up and around the top edges of the tooth that touch the gums near the root for a more thorough cleaning.
Reduce Sugar and Starch Intake
Cookies, cake, candy, and soda are delightful treats, but when it comes to health, sugar addiction causes all sorts of problems. Sugar attracts the troublemakers in our bodies like plaque because these bacteria thrive on sugar. The more sugar we consume, the more bacteria will grow, making it that much harder to keep plaque at bay. Therefore, the best way to prevent this problem is by limiting sugar and starch intake (potato chips, breads, sweetened beverages, etc.). Whenever you do consume these foods, be sure to drink plenty of water afterward to help rinse away any remaining sugar on your teeth.
Brushing and flossing are primary ways to keep your mouth and teeth clean. However, there are other additional methods that aid a healthier mouth. One method includes oil pulling, which consists of swishing oil, usually coconut oil, around in your mouth for about 20 minutes. This practice removes plaque and strengthens your teeth while preventing tooth decay and soothing gums. Coconut oil is particularly beneficial as it contains fatty acids with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Only one tablespoon of oil will leave your mouth much cleaner and healthier.
Removing plaque from your teeth every day is vital for a healthy mouth, so if you believe you could improve your brushing and flossing habits, now is the time to do so! See if you can impress your dentist with the health of your teeth at your next exam.