Gum disease and dental decay are the two most prevalent forms of tooth problems. They are also largely preventable diseases with diet modifications, good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Our dentist explains why these five items play an important role in a good oral hygiene routine.
- A soft, small-headed toothbrush
Brushing your teeth plays an essential role in removing food debris and dental plaque on teeth, helping to prevent the onset of dental decay and gum disease. Rather than choosing a toothbrush with medium or hard bristles, opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush to help prevent gum and tooth root abrasions, and receding gums. Additionally, a small toothbrush head (no larger than the diameter of a 50-cent coin) ensures that you can reach your back teeth. Children’s toothbrushes are a good alternative if you are unable to find an adult toothbrush that is small enough.
Toothpaste contains gentle abrasives that remove food debris and dental plaque. It also delivers fluoride to the teeth, which helps to reduce the risk of new decay formation and slow the progression of existing decays. For people who are at high risk of tooth decay, choose a toothpaste with higher fluoride content.
- Interdental cleaning aid
Brushing alone does not clean between your teeth or protect against all plaque. Using an interdental cleaning aid such as dental floss, floss picks or interdental brushes is essential to remove remaining debris and plaque from the spaces between your teeth. Your dentist can help you select a suitable aid based on your teeth position, gum level and dexterity.
- Mouth rinse
Mouth rinses and washes help to reduce the amount of residual plaque on your teeth after brushing and interdental cleaning. Common antiseptics in mouth rinses are essential oils (eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate and thymol) or cetylpyridinium chloride, both of which are equally effective in reducing plaque and killing bacteria. Similar to toothpaste, many mouth rinses also contain fluoride. Diluting mouth wash or rinsing after with water is not advised as it can decrease the effects of the chemicals used to clean the mouth.
- Tongue cleaner
Aside from your teeth and gums, the tongue also harbours bacteria and food residue that can cause bad breath. A helpful tip for cleaning the tongue includes using a tongue scraper or a toothbrush to brush your tongue.