Studies have shown that attractive teeth can make you look years younger and that a beautiful smile is the first thing people rate in what makes someone of the opposite sex attractive.
Yet many of us are not looking after our teeth properly – brushing at the wrong times, too quickly and with toothbrushes not fit for purpose.
So don’t give your teeth the brush-off, follow these tips from the Medcare dental team to make sure you look after your teeth just like a dentist would and have a healthy and attractive smile.
BRUSH IN A CIRCULAR MOTION
You may have been taught to brush up and down but vigorous up and down scrubbing can wear away the gums. Instead, use gentle, circular movements and make sure the bristles go under the gum line to clean out bacteria that hides there. Many people skate over the surface of the gum, leaving particles of debris behind.
DON’T GET A SOFTER BRUSH IF YOUR GUMS BLEED
Bleeding gums are not a sign that you are brushing too vigorously, they are a sign that you are not managing to clean your teeth well enough. Often people think they need a softer brush if their gums bleed, but you don’t. Use a medium strength brush and pay extra attention to the gum line if your mouth is bleeding. If bleeding continues, see your dentist.
TIME YOUR BRUSHING
You should spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth morning and night, and some dentists recommend spending as much as five minutes twice a day brushing teeth. Time your brushing to make sure you are spending enough time cleaning your teeth.
DON’T BRUSH AFTER BREAKFAST
Most of us brush after breakfast but it is actually better to brush before breakfast. Many of us will have acidic foods such as orange juice or grapefruit for breakfast, which weaken the tooth enamel. If you then brush your teeth you will erode the weakened tooth enamel. Also, bacteria feeds off the sugars in food and produces more acid, so by brushing after breakfast you will be pushing the acid into the weakened enamel. It is best to brush your teeth as soon as you get up.
And, in the evening, leave an hour after eating before brushing your teeth to give saliva a chance to neutralise the acid.
BRUSH YOUR TONGUE
Don’t forget your tongue needs brushing too, as the soft, wet environment your tongue provides is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. You can use your toothbrush or a tongue scraper. Make sure you get right to the back, though it may make you gag a bit.
MIND THE GAPS – FLOSS AND INTERDENTAL STICKS
Food particles and bacteria can hide between teeth, so always floss and use an interdental brush between teeth.
WHITEN TEETH WITH STRAWBERRIES AND BICARBONATE OF SODA
For a natural tooth whitener try using strawberries and bicarbonate of soda. Create a paste with about eight strawberries (the riper the better) and half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, smear on teeth, and rub in a little. This works because the abrasive bicarbonate of soda helps to remove surface stains caused by tea, coffee and smoking, and the strawberries contain ascorbic acid, a gentle acid that also helps remove surface stains and leave teeth shiny.
For greater whitening a professional tooth whitening treatment is recommended.
USE AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH
Electric toothbrushes have been shown to be much more effective at cleaning than manual versions. The head and movement of a good electric toothbrush is designed to get into the places we may miss with manual cleaning. A circular, multi-directional rotating head is best.
AND FINALLY …
No matter how well you look after your teeth, you should also visit your dentist for regular examinations as your dentist can then pick up any problems before they become too much of an issue. Visit your dentist every six months unless you are advised otherwise.