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How to maintain squeaky clean teeth
Keeping your teeth clean between visits to the dentist comes down to good oral hygiene practices at home. And while the importance of brushing your teeth every day has been drilled into your brain since childhood, when was the last time you thought about HOW you brush your teeth?
Always use a soft-bristle brush
Medium and hard-bristle toothbrushes are terrible for your teeth. Yes, they get rid of early plaque build-up and germs, but they also scrape the enamel off your teeth, causing tooth sensitivity and structural damage.
Be gentle with your teeth
Don’t brush too vigorously or you’ll brush away the enamel. Be gentle and methodical. Focus on one area of your mouth at a time and brush with small vertical movements. And make sure you get into the spaces between your teeth too.
Always brush your tongue
Bacteria loves to live in your mouth, with much of it living on your tongue which easily transfers back onto your teeth after brushing. So when you’ve finished brushing your teeth, spend 20-30 seconds brushing your tongue. Most toothbrushes now offer a tongue-brush on the back.
Don’t forget to floss
Whether you floss before or after brushing your teeth doesn’t matter, but if you really want healthy teeth, you need to floss. Bacteria and food debris that gets stuck between the teeth can cause serious decay in both your teeth and gums. Ideally you should floss every time you brush your teeth.
Studies have shown that electric toothbrushes have a superior cleaning ability over manual ones so, although the initial investment may be considerable, it will actually be worthwhile in the long run.
Change your toothbrush regularly
Germs build up on your toothbrush over time and a frayed toothbrush isn’t very effective for cleaning your teeth, either. You should change your toothbrush, or the head of your toothbrush if you’re using an electric one, every 2-3 months.
Go to the dentist regularly
No-one enjoys visiting the dentist and it’s very tempting to only go when you’ve got a problem, but that is the best way of causing more cavities in the long run. Annual oral check-ups can catch problems before you start feeling pain so they’re a good way of avoiding toothache in the first place!
And finally …
Little tweaks to your diet can also help you to maintain healthy teeth: cut down on coffee, tea and alcohol which can stain your teeth and drink more milk instead. It’s an excellent source of calcium which can help to strength your teeth and bones. Be wary of cereals – they may be good sources of fibre and iron, but they also contain lots of sugar too! Try eating Greek-style yoghurt with fruit and nuts – again, lower in sugar and high in calcium. Avoid fizzy and energy drinks which are full of sugar and acids which damage teeth. Stick to water instead! And eat plenty of crunchy vegetables such as carrots and celery – they can stimulate the flow of saliva and scrub the surfaces of your teeth. Crunchy fruit like apples are high in fibre, helping to combat plaque and keep your breath fresh but it’s best to avoid oranges which are loaded with citric acid, the number one cause of enamel erosion.