Smart mouth

Monday, 15 October 2012

Smart mouthThere’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!

Image: coka/Shutterstock.com

Written by

Rachel McGregor is a Cape Town journalist (and part-time narcissist) specialising in food, health and lifestyle-related features. In her spare time she loves to cook and poke fun at hipsters. Sometimes she dreams of giving it all up and becoming a millionaire.

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  1. AndreaM

    I love all these fresh breath tips.

    3 years ago •

  1. Pseudo_kate

    Yes, flossing is such a pain but my gosh, the kind of stuff that you find stuck in-between your teeth can be scary. I try to floss at least every second day since I also forget like everyone else :)

    4 years ago •

  1. Anne

    Very important to take care of our teeth

    4 years ago •

  1. ricebunny

    An electric tooth brush works best for me

    5 years ago •

  1. Reigh-J

    The flossing bit gets to me… guess I have to stick with it if I wanna keep all my teeth.

    5 years ago •

  1. Cass1231

    Going to give this a try. Really off if someone is taking to you and has a stinky breath!

    5 years ago •

  1. G

    Interesting article. Flossing is the one thing we forget to do often.

    5 years ago •

  1. mahomed

    I’ve got a toothbrush for 2months, needs to be replaced but still good.

    5 years ago •

  1. beautilicious

    i know alot of ppl who take care of their teeth and will be please to view this article. its important to prevent major dental problems, good tips

    5 years ago •

  1. Angelisha

    Is Bicarbonate of Soda good to clean the teeth? Heard its a good home remady? Fact or fiction? Brush, floss and mouthwash and right care… Perfect article!

    5 years ago •

  1. Maddy

    Great article and this oral hygine extends to kids also. Teeth should be looked after from young age.

    5 years ago •

  1. Cindy Ross

    This is a good article and useful.

    5 years ago •

  1. Gee Whiskers

    Great articles – I am bad when it comes to flossing, need to floss more regularly :P

    5 years ago •

  1. Tasha

    Looking after your teeth is one of the most important things.

    5 years ago •

  1. Hima

    Great article!!! I neglect flossing every now and then. Should make it a routine….

    5 years ago •

  1. Cat

    My sister is an oral hygienist in NZ and drills into me every day how important it is to look after your teeth. once they are gone there is nothing you can do about it and having a dazzling smile is an amaizng asset

    5 years ago •

  1. DIVA

    Thanks for the tips, I like flossing but I have a problem with a mouth wash, my teeth get sensity after I rinse with mouth wash, is there a mouth wash that you can recomend that is not harsh to my teeth.

    5 years ago •

  1. Tasha

    One of the important tips is to make sure that you look after your kids teeth also, from very young.

    5 years ago •

  1. foreverGLAM

    Electric toothbrushes are truly worth buying.

    5 years ago •

  1. CarolynMcM

    Oral hygiene is so important! Thanks for the great article!

    5 years ago •

  1. Humphreys

    Great insight for a useful routine. Thanks BSA

    5 years ago •

  1. Chicara

    I started using Pepsodent about a month ago. Nice toothpaste options – I like the all-in 1 one. :)

    5 years ago •

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