It’s easy to neglect your teeth and take them for granted. Especially when they’re working just fine and not causing you any pain. Invest in taking care of your teeth and gums because you only get one set. When they are damaged the pain can be debilitating and you become vulnerable to a host of other preventable health issues.
Prevention is better than cure
Finding a good dentist is like finding the right psychologist. You need to feel comfortable and safe when you’re in such a vulnerable situation, when the mouth is unprotected and you’ll be experiencing a fight or flight response to subconsciously protect you from potential danger. Find a dentist that doesn’t make you feel nervous and you will find it much easier to make regular check up appointments.
Invest in your teeth because you only get one set…. Unless you have a lot of money or great health cover. If you haven’t taken care of your mouth and you’re experiencing pain when eating then you can appreciate the importance of regular check ups from the dentist. The pain can even eventually prevent you from eating your favourite foods.
Another surprising reason to look after your mouth health is that damage inside your mouth can cause heart disease. There is a lot of bacteria in the mouth, but none in the bloodstream. If bacteria is able to enter your bloodstream through some damage in your gums or mouth tissues, then that bacteria can travel to the heart.
When you visit the dentist and nothing is wrong or damaged, they can still perform a deep clean. This thorough clean will remove the built up plaque that you don’t regularly remove with brushing.
What is plaque and why should I care about it?
Have you heard of plaque? If you don’t remove plaque build up on your teeth it can harden over time and cause your teeth to weaken and wear away. Why is plaque so powerful? Because it’s made up of a biofilm. Biofilms are layers of different bacterial colonies built up over time. The tooth surface is quite smooth which makes it difficult for bacteria to adhere, except for some species of bacteria. These then create the perfect surface for a different species of bacteria to cling to. Then the next species can join on and the next and the next. Each layer creates the pH and other conditions required for the next type of bacteria to take advantage of. But now you have a film of bacteria eating away at your teeth. You need to brush your teeth twice a day, followed by flossing to remove all of the bad bacteria before it can wreak havoc on your teeth.
Acidic drinks and foods like oranges, juice and soft drinks soften the enamel of the teeth. Brushing your teeth while the acid is present and softening your tooth enamel will erode the enamel away. You should wait to brush your teeth at least 30 minutes after consuming acidic food or drink. Or, if you’re out of time, you can dilute the acid in your mouth by swishing with water before you brush.
Brush your teeth and tongue regularly and carefully. Use soft bristle brushes to ensure you don’t cause damage or recede your gums with over brushing.
Toothbrush tip: Keep your toothbrush fresh. Change your brush every 3 months, which is about the time is takes to wear the bristles into that bent out mess. The way to remember this is to change it at the change of the seasons. In the Southern Hemisphere we count the beginning of summer as the first of December. So I changed my toothbrush last week ready for summer. Too easy.
Environmental health tip: Avoid plastic toothbrushes. Think about the amount of toothbrushes that have been created since they were invented. That is too much plastic waste, and counting. To reduce my impact on the Earth I’ve been buying bamboo toothbrushes and wheat straw toothbrushes then reusing them as small cleaning brushes when I’m done. After that the bristles are removed and the stick part either is used in my garden or is put in the compost bin.
Additional note: If you clench your jaw or grind your teeth during the daytime you can speak to your dentist about botox treatments to relax your jaw muscles. This will prevent further damage to your teeth and the inside of your mouth without having to wear a mouth guard during the day.
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