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11 August 2014

How to keep your teeth clean

Brushing your teeth properly twice a day is the most important thing you can do to keep your teeth healthy and strong. The second most important thing is to use fluoride toothpaste when brushing your teeth. Fluoride is a natural mineral effective in removing plaque and cleaning your teeth. Read on for more issues regarding teeth brushing.

Toothbrush usage tips

  • Replace your tooth brush every three months.
  • Replace your toothbrush immediately after recovering from a virus or any infectious sickness (colds, flu, etc.).
  • Never share your toothbrush to avoid infections.
  • Always store your toothbrush with its cap in a clean, dry, airy spot.

Is there a right time to brush my teeth?

There isn’t one specific time to brush your teeth. What’s important is that you do it twice a day every day—once in the morning and once in the evening before going to bed. It’s also recommended to brush teeth at least an hour after you’ve eaten a meal, especially if you’ve had acidic foods like citrus fruits, wine, soda and carbonated drinks. Acids from food soften the enamel of your teeth. Brushing immediately while the enamel is still soft can wear away the enamel instead of strengthening it. Brush for at least two minutes to ensure that you give your teeth a thorough, gentle cleaning.

Which is better—an electric or manual toothbrush?

Both an electric and manual toothbrushes are effective in cleaning your teeth. It all depends on personal preference. Both can cover surfaces needed to be cleaned, and both work well with fluoride toothpaste.

What should I look for in a good toothbrush?

For manual toothbrushes, look for one with a small, compact head with an arrangement of angled bristles that are long and short. Round-ended bristles work well too. Soft to medium bristles are recommended for gentle teeth cleaning. As much as possible, do not go for hard bristles to avoid damaging your teeth. For electric toothbrushes, look for one with an oscillating or rotating head. You can also ask your dentist to be sure.

What type of toothpaste should I use?

There are various brands of toothpaste available in the market and sometimes it’s difficult to choose which one is the best. The most important thing to look for is the concentration of fluoride. Check the packaging to find out how much fluoride a specific brand and type of toothpaste contains. Adults require a minimum of 1,350 ppm (parts per million) fluoride. Children aged 3-6 need 1,350-1,500 ppm of fluoride, while babies and small children up to 3 only need 1,000 ppm of fluoride. In some cases, your dentist may prescribe to you a toothpaste with a higher concentration of fluoride should you need it. You can opt to buy a special children’s toothpaste for your kids, but the regular family toothpaste also works fine as long as it’s within the recommended fluoride content. Never allow children to eat or lick toothpaste from the tube as it can contaminate the toothpaste.

What is the right way of brushing teeth?

  1. Put a small amount of fluoride toothpaste on your toothbrush.
  2. With your toothbrush tilted at 45° angle, use gentle strokes and brush your teeth in a circular or vertical motion. Start with the outer surfaces of your teeth—the top of the teeth and the bottom. Next, brush the inner surfaces including the back of the front teeth and the chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth. Make sure to cover all surfaces of your teeth including the gum line and hard to reach areas. Do this for two minutes.
  3. Don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove stuck food particles and bacteria, and also to avoid bad breath. Again, use gentle strokes because the tongue is a sensitive muscle.
  4. Spit out excess toothpaste. It’s recommended not to rinse with water to ensure the efficacy of fluoride toothpaste. However, some people do not like having toothpaste in their mouths. You can take a sip of water, swish it around your mouth, and then spit it out to remove remaining toothpaste.

Flossing and interdental brushes

Dental floss is a thin, soft thread made of either nylon or plastic, that is used to remove plaque and food particles trapped between your teeth. Aside from removing food particles in between teeth, regular flossing can also help remove bad breath and reduce likelihood of gum disease and tooth decay by removing plaque along the gum line.

If your teeth are very close together and it’s difficult for you to manoeuvre dental floss between the gaps, you may use interdental brushes in lieu of flossing. Never use toothpicks to remove food particles trapped between your teeth since it could make your gums bleed and cause infection, especially if applied roughly.

What kind of floss should I use?

Dental floss can be made of either plastic (PTFE or monofilament floss) or nylon (multifilament floss). Nylon floss is available in unwaxed and waxed types, plus a variety of flavours. Since this type of floss is made up of strands of nylon, it acts like thread that can shred and tear when stretched too tightly. On the other hand, plastic floss is more expensive than its nylon counterpart but slides easily in between teeth even through tight spaces, and is tear-resistant. Either way, both types of floss are effective in removing plaque and food particles when used properly and regularly. It all boils down to personal preference.

What’s the right way of flossing?

  1. Take out 30-45 cm (12-18 inches) of dental floss and grasp it, leaving at least two inches of floss stretched between your hands.
  2. Manoeuvre the floss between the teeth and the area between the gums and teeth as far as the gum line.
  3. Floss gently in eight to ten strokes, moving up and down each tooth. Do this once or twice daily, the most recommended time at night before going to bed. You may floss before or after brushing your teeth.

Should I use mouthwash?

Rinsing your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash that contains fluoride can help prevent bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. However, don’t use it immediately after brushing your teeth. Choose a different time like after taking lunch. Also, to prolong efficacy of the mouthwash, do not eat or drink anything thirty minutes after using it.

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