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You only get one set of permanent teeth. So if you want them to last a lifetime, you have to take care of them.
Good oral health care isn’t difficult, but it’s something that requires your attention every day. While most people only need to visit their dentist for a full dental checkup once a year – plus another visit to the dentist’s office at least once each year for a teeth cleaning – you still need to take care of your teeth every day.
Your primary weapon against tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and other common oral health problems is your toothbrush. Brushing at least twice per day – once when you get up and once before you go to bed at night – will help eliminate most of the bacteria that can erode the surface enamel that protects your teeth.
Supplement this with gargling with a high-quality mouthwash and you have pretty much 75 to 80 percent of your daily tooth care covered.
Here, then, are five things to remember to cover the remaining oral health requirements so you can enjoy a bright, healthy smile for the rest of your life.
Brush Up and Down, Not Side to Side
How you brush is just as important as you remember to brush at least twice per day. Keep in mind that most of the bacteria that grows in everybody’s mouth prefers to hide near the line where your teeth meet the gums, as well as in between teeth.
This bacteria is always present and feeds on the food particles and other substances – including the film from cigarette smoke — that become stuck in your teeth or adhere to the surface of your teeth. Part of the reason you brush is to remove these substances. So when you brush you should use up and down strokes, rather than side to side.
This helps polish the surface of your teeth. But it also allows the bristles of your toothbrush to penetrate these hard to reach areas, where they can loosen debris and stop it from feeding the bacteria that can harm your teeth.
Change Your Brush Every 90 Days
You wouldn’t use the same wooden brush to wash your floor every day for a year or use the same shampoo to polish your car’s exterior. So why would you want to use the same toothbrush all the time?
It’s important that you change your toothbrush a minimum of every three or four months. That’s the recommendation of the American Dental Association. But if the bristles of your toothbrush are worn or frayed, you should replace it more frequently.
Store Your Toothbrush Head Side Up
How you store your toothbrush when you aren’t using it is also important. Remember that bacteria that you removed from your teeth while brushing? Well, some of it can adhere to the bristles of your toothbrush.
Usually, this bacteria will die off if there’s no moisture. By storing your toothbrush with the head facing up, gravity pulls any residual moisture down your brush and away from the bristles, depriving bacteria of the water it needs to survive.
Don’t Share Your Toothbrush
Toothbrushes should only be used by one person. They should never be shared. Even if you are living with an intimate partner, you both should have different toothbrushes.
That’s because toothbrushes can easily harbor bacteria, viruses, and other things that can cause illnesses. Using the same toothbrush is a way to cross-contaminate the other person, so any bug you pick up will be passed onto them and vice versa.
Even high quality toothbrushes don’t cost a lot of money. Usually, your dentist will give you replacement toothbrushes for free during your annual exams and teeth cleaning. So don’t be cheap. And don’t share toothbrushes with anybody else. That’s disgusting.
Brushing Isn’t All You Need to Do
Brushing at least twice a day is important to good oral health. But it’s not enough to completely prevent your teeth from problems.
Food particles and other substances can easily become trapped in the tight spaces between your teeth. Your toothbrush can’t reach all of these spaces no matter how hard or how frequently you brush. So you need to supplement your daily brushing with daily use of dental floss.
Dental floss is a thin piece of durable string that can penetrate the areas between your teeth, removing debris and fully cleaning your mouth to prevent bacteria from reproducing.
Keep a package of dental floss next to your toothbrush to remind you to use it. And make it a habit of always flossing your teeth after brushing, then cleaning out your mouth with some mouthwash afterwards. This will keep your smile, healthy, bright and your teeth in optimal health for the rest of your life.
Author Bio – This article is written by Paul Vernon in support of Thantakit Bangkok Dental Center.