There’s more to looking after them than you might think: it’s not enough to simply brush twice and floss once every day – you have to do it correctly. We asked Dr Shanhaaz Kahn of the Kromboom Dental Centre for some expert advice.
What’s the best way to brush?
The head of your toothbrush should be placed beside the teeth, and the tips of the bristles placed at a 45-degree-angle to the gumline. Move the toothbrush back and forth, using short strokes and a scrubbing motion, several times in each spot.
Keep the bristles angled against the gumline, while you brush both the inner and outer surfaces of each tooth. Brush the chewing surfaces straight on.
Clean the inside surfaces of your front teeth by tilting the brush vertically and making several up-and-down strokes with the front of the brush. Finish by brushing your tongue, which helps remove bacteria from your mouth. You also get tongue scrapers, which are excellent for cleaning the tongue.
The most important brush of the day is at night, before you go to bed, and it’s important that you have nothing to eat or drink (other than water) afterwards.
Which type of toothbrush is best?
It’s possible to brush your teeth effectively with a manual toothbrush, but make sure to choose a soft-bristle brush (We like the Pepsodent pininferina Anti-Plaque Ultra-Reach toothbrush, R47.99 or the free toothbrush that comes with the Pepsodent Cavity Fighter, R12.99). An electric toothbrush can be a great alternative though. The bristle movement of an electric toothbrush might even help you remove more plaque from your teeth. Whether you choose electric or manual, though, what’s most important is correct daily brushing and flossing.
What is the best way to floss?
There is an old dentist proverb: ‘You don’t have to floss all your teeth – just the ones you want to keep!’ It is best to floss ALL your teeth at least once per day, preferably at night before you brush your teeth.
Should we use mouthwash?
Mouthwash can be a useful adjunct to your oral hygiene regime. Mouthwashes are used for a variety of reasons: to freshen breath, to help prevent or control tooth decay, to reduce plaque and to prevent or reduce gingivitis. I recommend a three-stage regime: floss, brush and mouthwash.
Do you have any other advice?
It’s extremely important to visit your dentist or oral hygienist for a check-up every six months. Prevention is much better and more economical than cure. Any problems with your teeth and gums can be detected by your dentist or oral hygienist before they become serious. Pain is not always related to decay. Only if an infection is present and it cannot escape through the mouth, say via a broken tooth, might you experience pain. In fact, it’s possible to have an abscess without even realising it, and gum disease, broken fillings and cavities are treatable with early detection. That’s why dental check-ups are vital if you want to avoid root canals, gum disease and oral cancer!