Poor dental care can make you sick. Lack of oral hygiene has been linked to many ailments from heart disease to erectile dysfunction. Obviously, these are things we'd like to avoid. Even if you brush regularly, you may still be making the following mistakes:
You don't clean at the right time of day. "Your toothbrush should be the last thing your teeth touch at night," says Edmond R. Hewlett, DDS, a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry. You should not snack before you sleep as food is likely to get stuck between your teeth and greatly increase your risk of cavities. Your morning brushing is just as important. Saliva production slows down while you're sleeping making bacteria multiply at a faster rate. To get the best results, make sure you are brushing twice a day for at least 2 minutes, spending 30 seconds in each quadrant of your mouth (upper right, lower right etc).
You use the wrong brush. Hewlett recommends using a soft bristle brush that can slip under your gums and dislodge plaque. Plaque build up increases your risk of developing gum disease. Using a medium or hard brush, and too much pressure, can make your gums recede and expose your roots. The roots are not as hard as your enamel covered teeth and so scrubbing this area can wear it away more rapidly, causing small cavities.
You don't rinse. Spitting or swallowing your toothpaste does not completely remove all the things you knocked loose while brushing. Pia Lieb, D.D.S., a cosmetic dentist in New YorkCity, suggests using an alcohol-free mouthwash with hydrogen peroxide. If you do not have a mouthwash, rinsing with water is better than not rinsing at all.
You follow the wrong technique. Hewlett suggests holding the brush handle so the bristles point at a 30 - 45 degree angle when they touch your gums. He also suggests moving your wrist in a circular motion for effective plaque removal. When brushing the back of your front teeth, rotate your brush to vertical. This allows you to better cover the entire tooth. And never forget the back of your mouth, plaque loves to hide out back there.
You don't replace your brush. The ADA suggests replacing your brush every 3 or 4 months. Worn down bristles are not very effective when it comes to removing plaque and bacteria. You should replace your brush immediately if you have been sick. Bacteria and viruses from an illness can stay on the brush and potentially re-infect you.
You ignore the rest of your mouth. Don't forget to brush (or scrape) your tongue. The tongue is covered in carpet like strands known as papillae and the crevices in between make a perfect place for food, debris and bacteria to hide!
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