Health

Dental health facts you need to know

Incisive Bite

by Dr Sharon Robinson

Sunday, August 19, 2018

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NOT taking care of your mouth can lead to many dental problems: Bad breath, gum disease, cavities, sensitivity, and even tooth loss. But the good news is, these issues are preventable.

For ideal dental health, there are numerous good habits you need to adopt. Here are six dental health facts you should know.

Healthy lifestyles make healthy smiles

Regular exercise and a healthy diet decrease the chances of developing gum disease. A poor diet filled with sugary foods and liquids can lead to cavities.

Good oral hygiene takes time

A white smile doesn't happen overnight. Several small, positive changes in your routine will contribute to this gradual process. Plaque, the sticky film of bacteria constantly forming at the gumline and on the surfaces of your teeth, can take time to remove.

Brush your teeth two to three minutes at a time, and twice daily. Consider using a timer to help ensure you're spending enough time at the sink, or play a song of the same length encouraging everyone in the house to do the same.

Interdental tools such as floss reach many areas of the mouth that your toothbrush can't and should be used at least once daily before bedtime. Finish your routine by rinsing with mouthwash according to label directions, to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Proper technique with proper products

Toothbrushes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but choose one that fits comfortably in your mouth. Correct brushing technique means placing the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward your gum line and gently moving the bristles back and forth in short strokes. Make sure to brush the outer, inner and biting surfaces of all your teeth. Brush your tongue as well, or use a tongue cleaner to kill the bacteria that are there.

Toothpaste is available with a variety of active ingredients that can help protect you from specific dental problems such as cavities, gum disease, bad breath, tartar build-up, stains, or sensitivity. Mouthwash can be used as an additional aid for a healthy mouth, but it does not replace brushing and flossing on a daily basis.

Like toothpaste, it is also available with a variety of active ingredients such as fluoride to protect the teeth, and antimicrobials to reduce plaque and gingivitis

The importance of floss

Don't skimp on the floss. Use a long piece, about an arm's length, that provides enough grip to access the spaces between every tooth, front and back. Wind up most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the middle finger of the other. Use your thumbs and index fingers to grip the floss, and gently slide it between each tooth down to the gumline. Move the floss against the tooth in an up-and-down motion before you go on to the next area. As you move from one tooth to the next, unroll and grip a fresh section of floss to avoid transferring the plaque back on to your teeth.

If you find it difficult to use floss, don't skip cleaning between your teeth altogether. There are other tools you can use such as a floss holder, wooden sticks, plastic picks, and small interdental brushes.

Start healthy habits early

As soon as your child's baby teeth appear, they're at risk of cavities — also known as dental caries. Cavity-causing bacteria can be transferred to a baby's mouth from a parent, often from using the same spoon or sharing a toothbrush.

Just as cavities can distract you from work, they can make it difficult for children to pay attention in school,s so look after your child's teeth as if they're your own. Using a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush gets them off to a healthy start. They'll need help though, so brush your child's teeth until you're comfortable that he or she can brush without you. You'll probably recognise this transition at seven or eight years of age.

When your child has two teeth touching, it's time to introduce daily flossing.

See dental experts regularly

Don't wait until it's too late! See your dentist and dental hygienist twice a year for a professional cleaning and check-up. Trained to prevent oral diseases, dental professionals will find the hidden problems you may not be able to see, keeping you aware of the little dental health facts that make big differences in your family's life.

Dr Sharon Robinson DDS has offices at the Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa for an opportunity to take advantage of weekly specials.

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