While most of us aspire to a celebrity-worthy pearly white smile, and will often spend a small fortune on whitening toothpastes, kits and treatments to achieve one, we can tend to overlook other important aspects of oral care and that's a big mistake. After all, what's the point in having pearly white gnashers if you also have rather rancid breath, inflamed gums, and or the beginnings of cavities lurking.
It's important that your oral health routine focus on more than just the colour of your teeth. Here are five very easy to implement changes you can make to your oral hygiene routine today to get a healthier smile, and not just a whiter one.
1. Practice Some Tongue Care
Your tongue is the single largest source of bacteria in your mouth, meaning it's a big contributor to bad breath and other oral nasties. And yet when most people clean their teeth they fail to clean their tongue, and it's very important to do so.
Yes, we know it sounds a bit weird but it's not a hard habit to get into. Some toothbrushes do come with a built-in tongue cleaner on the back, or you can buy an inexpensive tongue scraper. Either tool will strip your tongue of the excess gunk that builds up, but for an even better result follow up a scraping with a real brush of the tongue with toothbrush and toothpaste as well.
2. Forget the Hipster Toothpastes
Chances are your Mum and Dad have had you brushing with a fluoride toothpaste since you were a kid. But perhaps recently you've been noticing a number of new 'all-natural' toothpastes have been appearing that claim to do a better job at maintaining oral health than their traditional fluoride enhanced counterparts.
The simple fact is that they don't though. And while they may have cool packaging and funky, fun sounding flavours, we really do recommend sticking with the fluoride paste you grew up with. Fluoride guards your teeth from plaque and decay by strengthening the enamel and it's still a must in any effective oral hygiene routine.
3. Keep on Flossing
There's been a big debate of late over whether or not people really need to floss. It was opened up after a report was published that claimed research had shown that flossing had been overrated and that brushing might be enough.
Almost every dentist disagrees, but you don't even have to take their word for it. Even the fanciest, priciest toothbrush can't get all those little bits of food that get stuck between your teeth out, and if they stay where they are they'll begin to rot, leading to bad breath at best and cavities and infection at worst. Since flossing is a very effective way to get rid of between the teeth gunk on a daily basis to keep on using it really is just common sense.
4. Stay Hydrated
Bad breath - especially that rather potent 'morning breath' most of us are familiar with is, in large part, due to dehydration. When you sleep the production of cleansing saliva is decreased, as is the case when you are super-thirsty.
5. Don't Ditch Your Dental Appointments
Yes, we know, you're busy. And you really don't like going to the dentist. And because you do brush and floss every day like a good boy or girl you think your teeth are in pretty good shape, so it's probably OK to skip a check up this time around. But, no, it's really not.
In addition to that great deep cleaning you'll get, your dentist, as an expert in gum health as well, will be able to spot the signs of periodontal disease that it's harder for you to notice (until pain, swelling and/or infection sets in) and address it before it can cause any lasting damage. And although it sounds a bit morbid to mention it often the only way an oral cancer is diagnosed is after its symptoms are spotted by an eagle-eyed dentist.
The Emergency Dentist Says:
Good oral hygiene is about more than the shade of pearly white you can achieve with your 'brightening' toothpaste. An attractive mouth is one that is healthy as well as good looking, something that the tips we've shared here, really will help you achieve.