May 23, 2024
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Hygiene

How to care for your teeth if you can’t see the dentist: experts

Brushing up on your dental hygiene at home could keep you healthier for longer.

A recent poll found that Americans admit to skipping brushing their teeth 5 times a week.

Oral health is a window to overall health, and problems in the mouth can lead to disease throughout the body, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Luckily, 90% of Americans recognize the importance of dental health. However, the number of Americans who have been to a dentist within the past year is around 67%, according to recent statistics from Express Dentist. Without insurance, going to the dentist can be expensive, but that shouldn’t prevent you from caring for your teeth entirely.

Experts shared their tips on how to keep your smile healthy at home.

Flossing

The American Dental Association recommends people floss once a day to remove food and plaque in the teeth that could lead to gum disease or cavities.

A national poll found that 4 in 10 Americans floss their teeth once a day and 20% never floss at all.

“Tooth brushing alone only cleans 60 to 70% of the tooth surface area, so if you are not cleaning between your teeth, you are leaving 30 to 40% of your teeth untouched! These sites are often hotspots for both decay and gum disease,” dental hygienist Camilla Bevan told The Sun.

“If you avoid flossing, you may find staining and calculus deposits between the teeth builds up quickly,” she added.

Flossing is only beneficial if you do it properly, experts warn.

Healthline’s flossing guide instructs people to break off about 18 to 24 inches of dental floss before winding the floss around both of their middle fingers.

Use around one to two inches to floss your teeth and hold the floss tight with with your thumbs and index fingers.

“Place the dental floss in between two teeth. Gently glide the floss up and down, rubbing it against both sides of each tooth. Don’t glide the floss into your gums. This can scratch or bruise your gums,” Healthline’s guide explained.

“As the floss reaches your gums, curve the floss at the base of the tooth to form a C shape. This allows the floss to enter the space between your gums and your tooth,” the guide continued.

Repeat the steps tooth by tooth.

Tongue scraping

You’ll likely breathe easier knowing you don’t have a stench coming from your mouth.

A good way to prevent bad breath and improve your oral hygiene is to brush and scrape your tongue.

“Getting to the back of your tongue will help with bad breath as this is where the bacteria are hiding,” Dr. Tom Crawford-Clarke, a cosmetic dentist, told The Sun.

In addition to brushing your tongue, you can use something called a tongue scraper.

“Copper tongue scrapers, specifically, are highly recommended as they contain antimicrobial properties,” Bevan said.

“Using a tongue scraper not only reduces bacteria levels and bad breath but can also improve and heighten your taste!” she added.

Get an electric toothbrush

Make your toothbrush work for you.

“An electric toothbrush is more effective in removing food, debris and bacteria from your mouth, particularly between your teeth and at the gumline, compared to a manual toothbrush,” Sharon Huang, DDS, board-certified dentist founder of NYC’s Les Belles, told the New York Post earlier this year.

“Research has shown that brushing for two minutes with an electric toothbrush is equivalent to brushing for seven minutes manually.”

And here are a few things you shouldn’t do at home:

Don’t whiten your teeth at home

Whitening your teeth with a dentist is a safer and more effective way to get a sparkling smile.

“I would not recommend any home remedies for tooth whitening as most do not work and can cause erosive wear. Teeth can in turn become yellower and more sensitive,” Bevan said.

However, there are things you can do at home to prevent your teeth from staining such as avoiding coffee, tea and red wine.

Don’t ignore red gums

Red, swollen and bleeding gums can be a sign of gingivitis. If left untreated you can go on to develop a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis, which can lead to bone loss in your jaw, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Going to the dentist is the best way to make sure your oral heath is up to snuff, but in the meantime you can use an electric toothbrush and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“The use of a good electric toothbrush in the correct way and daily interdental cleaning will help keep the gums healthy and reduce the risk of gum recession,” Bevan said.

“If you smoke, quitting will help to stop any present gum recession getting worse as well as reducing the risk of tooth loss and oral cancer,” she added.

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