Ever thought "I wish I had that smile!" but then dismissed it? Ever hide your smile because you are ashamed of it? STOP. You don't have to be. Looking after your teeth and gums with proper home oral care (and seeing your dentist regularly) will give you the confident smile you're after.
Oral health is a massive financial burden on the Australian health system. Australian Government expenditure on dental services fluctuated over the decade to 2017–18, from a low of $723 million in 2007–08 to a high of $1,580 million in 2017–18. Across the period, expenditure grew at an average annual rate of 8.1%.* Dental conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease can easily be prevented by looking after your oral hygiene at home and getting professional dental maintenance and treatment. Whilst it is important to see your dentist regularly for those 6-monthly check-up and cleans, it is equally - dare I say more - important that home oral care is carried out well.
Here are my top three must-haves in your daily home oral care routine.
Your risk of tooth decay can be minimised by using the correct tooth-brushing technique regardless of whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush. Try to be mindful of brushing:
gently (keep to a soft-bristle toothbrush)
all surfaces of your teeth (and every tooth)
action (circular or little jiggles rather than long horizontal brush strokes)
along the gum-line
I often hear patients say that they brush twice daily but when I check their teeth and gums there are areas they frequently miss. This can be reduced with correct technique and understanding your brushing pattern, which can be retrained with an aid and getting assistance from your dentist.
2. Fluoride toothpaste
Fluoride toothpaste is your shield against decay-causing bacteria. In small amounts, fluoride is safe and beneficial to protecting against damage to your teeth by:
incorporating into your enamel to strengthen it against bacteria and acid attack
acting as an antibacterial
3. Floss or interdental brushes
Home oral care really needs to include cleaning BETWEEN the teeth as well as brushing to prevent gum disease. There are many different products such as floss, flossettes and interdental brushes. Identifying which one works for you (and in which area of your mouth) goes a long way to keeping your teeth for life.
Gum disease often presents initially as bleeding gums and if not treated early enough, can progress into receding gums and jaw bone, causing teeth to become wobbly and ultimately loss of the tooth.
Having the right products is just the first step and there are so many other bits and pieces I could talk about (crooked teeth, diet, bad breath, sugar and acid intake, dry mouth, ulcers etc). However, I don't want you to bite off more than you can chew. For now, focus on brushing and flossing technique and duration. If you need assistance, reach out to me or or learn more at our Dental Education program.