Brushing and Flossing and Mouthwash, Oh My! Your Guide to Oral Health

Have you ever forgotten to brush your teeth and felt that yucky furry feeling in your mouth? Getting rid of that fuzzy feeling is one of the many important reasons why oral health is crucial. With the rise of social media, fake news is flying around everywhere, making it easy for the right information to become lost.

So, is chewing gum really the same as brushing your teeth? Is it true that if you brush your teeth extra hard before your dentist appointment, your practitioner won’t be able to tell you have been skipping brushes? Will your teeth actually become cleaner if you brush them harder? We’re here to debunk all the myths and misconceptions associated with oral health and provide some handy hints around best practices so that you can feel confident within your toothy grin. 

Basic oral health

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines oral health as ‘a key indicator of overall health, wellbeing and quality of life.’ This stems far beyond brushing your teeth twice a day. It encompasses various diseases and conditions, including dental caries, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth loss, oral cancer, oro-dental trauma, noma and birth defects such as cleft lip and palate. Although daunting, it’s never too late to start your journey with dental hygiene. Yes, it’s time-consuming, and yes, we know there are so many more things you’d rather be doing, but your mouth will thank you in the long run.

What contributes to poor oral health?

Poor oral health can be a combination of things – it’s not just a result of infrequent brushing. Some of these contributing factors include:

  • Consumption of sugar, tobacco, and alcohol.
  • A lack of good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups.
  • A lack of fluoridation in some water supplies.
  • Access and availability of services, including:
    • Affordability of private dental care.
    • Long waiting periods for public dental care.
  • Frequent snacking on sugary food and drinks.
  • Diabetes
  • The use of medications that reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth.
  • Family history or genetics.
  • Certain infections, such as HIV or AIDS.
  • Hormonal changes in women.
  • Acid reflux or heartburn.

Brushing your teeth

When was the last time you stopped to evaluate your brushing style? For most of us, cleaning our teeth was something we learnt as kids. We’re pretty sure you don’t remember what your parents taught you then! Because of this, so many people aren’t brushing their teeth as well as they should. Here is what brushing your teeth should involve:

Using the right toothbrush

The right toothbrush differs from person to person. Some may prefer harder bristles over softer bristles (or vice versa), and some may have a preferred brand. Electric toothbrushes are great options as they can get into those hard-to-reach crevices and do a better job than manual toothbrushes. However, they may not be a practical option for everyone. If you’re unsure which toothbrush is best for you, speak to one of our friendly dental practitioners.

Maintaining your toothbrush

Your toothbrush cleans your teeth, so it’s only fair you return the favour! Keeping your toothbrush clean and regularly changing the head of your toothbrush (electric) or the whole thing (manual) is crucial. Leaning your toothbrush on the counter or edge of the sink is a great way to pick up bacteria. To stop this unwanted collection, store your toothbrush upright between washes. In addition to this, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after each use. You can also soak it in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide or an antibacterial mouthwash. For best results, replace your toothbrush every three to four months.

Brushing gently but thoroughly

Unfortunately, the myth that brushing your teeth harder cleans them better is just that – a myth. Brushing your teeth too hard can be harsh on your teeth and gums, which are sensitive areas, so brush gently!

When it comes to the actual cleaning of your teeth, try to start in a different area of your mouth each time. If you tend to brush the same area first, it will usually get a more thorough clean than the area you clean last. Randomly choosing your starting point means your teeth will get equal attention.

Other areas that generally get forgotten are the inner sides, chewing surfaces and molars. So many of us put a lot of attention on our front teeth, but the rest of our mouth needs the same amount of love.

Lastly, brushing your tongue is important too. Yes, we know it’s called a toothbrush, but plaque can build up on your tongue and lead to bad mouth odour and other health problems, which is why gently brushing your tongue is crucial.

To floss or not to floss 

While the thought of dragging a little bit of thread through each tooth might not sound like a fun thing to do every day, there’s a reason why your dentist tells you to do it. Flossing isn’t just for getting tiny bits of food from between your teeth (although it does this too!) Flossing is an excellent way to stimulate the gums, reduce plaque and help lower inflammation in the area.

However, many people. – including young children or older adults with arthritis – find flossing difficult. Instead of putting it in the ‘too-hard’ basket, talk to your dentist about tools that can assist you with flossing, such as ready-to-use dental flossers.

Is mouthwash a myth?

Using mouthwash is a topic that’s widely speculated about in the media. TV ads make people think that mouthwash is necessary for good oral health, but many aren’t sure how it works. While mouthwash isn’t a substitute for brushing and flossing, certain mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine (an antibacterial ingredient) help to control plaque and gingivitis. If you are considering using mouthwash, talk to your dentist about which one will best benefit you.

How often do I really need to see the dentist? 

How often you need to visit the dentist will depend on your oral health and advice from your dentist. The general rule of thumb regarding dental check-ups is twice a year – one every six months. At these appointments, dentists will do a thorough clean and check-up to ensure you don’t have any oral health concerns. If they detect any issues, they might schedule follow-up appointments or refer you to a specialist.

Although the dentist can be daunting for some, attending your regular check-ups is the best way to maintain good oral health. Between visits, ensure you’re brushing and flossing daily and seeking advice from your local clinic if you have any concerns.

Are you due for a check-up? Whether you’re a new or existing patient, book now with one of our friendly team members.

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