Poor dental hygiene isn’t just something that affects your gums, teeth and breath. Becoming complacent with your dental hygiene routine can impact your wider health, causing cardiovascular problems and even impairing brain function.
Unfortunately, here in the U.K we still have some lessons to learn where our dental hygiene is concerned. Shockingly, 33% of Britons have never visited the hygienist, which is an integral part of maintaining healthy gums and in turn, teeth. It’s clear that more money and time needs to be invested into helping the public understand that dental health and dental hygiene are equally important. Here are a few useful tips that will send you on your way to improving and maintaining good gum health and thus, good oral hygiene.
Ditch the cigarettes
We’re all aware of the risks smoking poses to many bodily functions and components; your gums are not exempt. Smoking is no friend to your gums and will greatly increase the risk of tooth loss in long term smokers.
Tooth discoloration is the least of your worries if you’re a smoker and even if you’re rigorous with your brushing routine and have managed to keep relatively white teeth, you won’t evade the damage it does to your gums. Smoking causes gum disease to progress rapidly and is actually the most common reason for tooth loss in adults.
A physically non-threatening symptom of smoking is the effect it has on your breath, though many smokers feel self-conscious when talking to friends, family and colleagues and turn to chewing gum to mask the odour.
Unfortunately, this can inadvertently lead to cavities and decay because of the high sugar content that’s in gum and other minty sweets. The moral of the story is that when it comes to your dental hygiene, quitting smoking will only bring about positive change.
Don’t forget to floss
Brushing and flossing simultaneously works to protect your teeth and gums. A good analogy to describe the effects of flossing is to consider washing a glass you have taken a drink from but failing to clean the rim and the inside, leaving it laden with bacteria.
Flossing reaches parts of your mouth a brush will not and by the same token, flossing cannot clean your outer tooth surfaces like a brush will.
Did you know? Up to 35% of your teeth’s surfaces can remain laced with bacteria if you fail to floss.
You should aim to floss at least once a day, in the evenings, before brushing your teeth. Doing it in reverse risks dislodging food particles that will then linger in your mouth until the next day, taking you a step further towards gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.
Eat your way to healthy gums & teeth
Beginning during childhood, we repeatedly hear about the dietary choices that aren’t good for our gums and teeth; confectionary, sticky and starchy foods that get stuck in your teeth and alcohol and fizzy drinks, to name a few. However, there is significantly less reading collateral and education around surrounding the foods that are a friend to your oral health and hygiene.
Did you know, ginger root possesses anti-inflammatory properties that promote healthy tissues in the mouth and can help prevent gum disease? Or that apples have a cleansing effect on your gums, clearing tenacious plaque and bacteria? Check out Listerine’s blog on the best and worst foods for your gums and teeth for more nutritional inspiration.
Don’t neglect to visit the hygienist
We’re coming full circle with our intro to hammer this one home – don’t ever make an excuse to miss your routine hygienist appointments! You should consider the hygienist as an appointment that’s just as valuable to your oral health as visits to the dentist.
Hygienists are experts in gum health and play a huge preventative role, whilst dentists are more like GPs for your teeth; the two work together to keep your mouth healthy in different ways.
Failing to attend the hygienist could result in gum complications going unnoticed, leading to costly and complex treatment in the future. Invest in your smile, and make going to the hygienist your friend.