Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases in Australia and is easily preventable. But did you know that only half of all Australians brush their teeth once a day?
Good oral health can affect more than just your mouth so it’s important to get the basics right and have regular check-ups with your dentist. Here’s four tips to help you brush up on the basics.
Tip 1: Brush your teeth twice a day
Dentists recommend brushing twice a day for two minutes as the best way to protect against tooth decay and gum disease.
Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride, brush gently in a circular motion and don’t forget your tongue! Brushing your tongue can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth that can cause bad breath.
When you’ve finished, spit out the excess toothpaste and don’t rinse. Leaving the excess toothpaste can give your teeth some extra ongoing protection.
Should I use a manual or powered toothbrush?
Manual toothbrushes offer a greater amount of choice of brush heads and give you greater control over the brushing process. On the other hand, the power rotation of electric toothbrushes helps loosen plaque and they do a lot of the work for you which can be handy if you’ve got limited dexterity. Some models have a built-in timer so keeping brushing to two minutes is easy.
Both manual and electric can be effective, and it comes down to your choice – your dentist can help you choose what will work best for you. Either way, don’t forget to change your toothbrush or brush head every three months and more often if you’ve been sick or have braces.
Tip 2: Floss daily
Plaque between our teeth can build up and contribute to gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath but less than half of us floss as often as we should.
Take a length of floss about 45cm, wind it around your middle finger and thumb and use a gentle side-to-side motion. Alternatively, try an interdental brush. Your dentist can guide you on correct flossing technique.
Tip 3: Visit your dentist
Up to 65% of Australians haven’t seen a dentist in the last two years but according to the ADA, we should be visiting them every 6-12 months or as needed to keep on top of our oral health.
Not only do they check for tooth decay, they will also check for oral cancer and gum disease to keep your whole mouth healthy.
Tip 4: Eat and drink well
Everything you eat and drink can impact your teeth and gums. Limit snacking between meals to give your mouth a break from the acid attacks that occur when we eat. Reduce your intake of foods high in sugar and watch out for hidden sugars in drinks. When choosing snacks, look at the nutrition label and try to choose options with less than 10g of sugar per 100g.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water which will help to flush out any left-over food particles. Most tap water in Australia contains fluoride which will help to strengthen your teeth.
As with any changes to your diet, we recommend first speaking with your health professional. *Information sourced from the Australian Dental Association. For more information, visit ada.org.au.
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