Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, it can be all too easy to pick up the wrong habits when it comes to looking after your teeth. That’s why we’re going to share some of the things you should be doing to look after your teeth and smile, as well as some things you should definitely not be doing.
Do see your dentist sooner rather than later
If you experience any pain or unusual lumps or bumps, it’s also best to get an early opinion from your dentist. You may just need their professional reassurance, but if you do need treatment it’s usually always best carried out promptly, before problems have a chance to get worse and solutions more expensive.
The early stages of gum disease, for example, can usually be tackled by improving your oral hygiene, but if left untreated it can result in loose or missing teeth. Similarly, early decay will often require a simple filling, but more advanced decay may need root canal treatment to save the tooth. A head in the sand approach to dental health is not advised!
Don’t take matters into your own hands
If you’ve ever been tempted to google DIY dental treatments. STOP! Step away from your computer. Worryingly there are a number of YouTube videos showing you how to carry out all sorts of dental treatments that we take years of professional training to perfect. However simple or affordable a DIY alternative may seem, it’s definitely not worth the risk.
Unsurprisingly, most DIY treatments involve using homemade techniques and materials, which aren’t designed for the job in hand. But most importantly there’s no professional supervision – no one to examine your smile and take X-rays to check you’re even suitable for your chosen treatment, and no one to make sure your treatment is carried safely. In the case of DIY braces treatment is carried out using elastic bands, which can put too much force on the teeth and move them too quickly. This can result in teeth that don’t stay straight, or worse still, teeth that become detached from the gum. DIY attempts may save money in the short term but they can definitely cost more in the long run.
Do brush your teeth thoroughly
Good brushing is such an important and simple way to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Throughout the day (and night) plaque – a thin, sticky layer of bacteria – accumulates on your teeth and the only way to remove it is to manually brush it away. When plaque is combined with sugar, the bacteria feed and produce acids, which can damage your tooth enamel and result in decay and cavities. In more severe case the acids can work their way through your teeth, causing an infection that may require root canal treatment to save the tooth.
Over time plaque can also turn into tartar if it’s not removed. Tartar can stain, turning your teeth yellow, or even brown, and it can also cause gingivitis. You won’t be able to remove tartar yourself, you’ll need to see your dentist or a hygienist to have it professionally removed.
Thankfully just two minutes twice a day is enough to keep the plaque at bay – and don’t forget to floss once a day, too. Plaque loves to build up in between your teeth.
Don’t adopt the latest dental fad
Or at least not until you’ve spoken to your dentist. There’s usually years or even decades of research behind the advice we give out and the techniques we recommend. That’s why it can sometimes be concerning to see dental fads with little or no scientific evidence taking the internet by storm. Innovation is a great thing, particularly within dentistry, but it’s more important to not take risks where the health of your teeth and mouth is concerned.
Brushing with activated charcoal is one such fad. The idea is that by brushing with activated charcoal you can whiten your teeth by a number of shades. While this may be true, we just don’t know what the long-term effects of brushing with charcoal are. We do know, however, that charcoal is potentially abrasive and therefore it could damage your teeth’s enamel. Furthermore, no teeth whitening products containing charcoal have been approved by the American Dental Association or the British Dental Association.
Do get your teeth whitened by a dental professional
A whiter smile is an appealing prospect for many, but start doing your research and you’ll soon discover that whitening your teeth isn’t as straightforward as you first thought. Broadly speaking, there are three different ways to whiten your teeth: over-the-counter products such as whitening strips and toothpastes; professional home whitening kits and laser teeth whitening, which is carried out at your dental clinic.
Over-the-counter products are the most cost effective option, but legally they’re only allowed to contain up to 0.1% hydrogen peroxide, so you’re not going to see a dramatic difference. Professional home whitening kits and laser whitening will both involve a consultation with a dentist and treatment that’s provided by a dentist – or a dental therapist or hygienist who is supervised by a dentist. This means the products used can contain a higher percentage of hydrogen peroxide (currently up to 6%) and you should see a noticeable difference. It’s important to know that it’s illegal for anyone other than the professionals mentioned above to provide teeth whitening.