Everyone wants to have a great smile which is why good oral hygiene is important. And new research suggests that gum disease can lead to other problems in the body, including increased risk of heart disease.Bacteria can live in your mouth in the form of plaque, causing cavities and gingivitis, which can lead to periodontal (gum) disease. In order to keep your mouth clean, you must practice good oral hygiene every day.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to keep your teeth strong and healthy from childhood to old age. Here’s how:

1. Proper brushing: This is one of the easiest steps to do to help your teeth keep clean. Did you know there is a proper way to brush your teeth? First, place the bristles at an angle of 45 degrees near the gum line so that both the gum and the tooth are in contact with the bristles. Now, brush the teeth using a back-and-forth, up-and-down motion, applying only a gentle pressure in order to avoid bleeding. Next, clean the insides of the teeth and gums with the same back-and-forth, up-and-down motion. Lastly, brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before rinsing. Ideally you should brush your teeth at least twice a day. You can also minimize bacterial buildup in your mouth by thoroughly rinsing your mouth with water after each meal. It is important to change your toothbrush 3 – 4 times a year.

2. Flossing: A surprisingly large number of people do not know about flossing. The people who do know sometimes tend to skip this step when in a hurry. However, flossing can help you remove food particles and other detrimental substances that brushing regularly cannot. Flossing allows you to reach deep between your teeth where the toothbrush bristles cannot reach or even mouthwash cannot wash away. We recommend flossing at least once a day. The use of dental floss is an important element of oral hygiene, since it removes plaque and decaying food remaining between the teeth. This food decay and plaque cause irritation to the gums, allowing the gum tissue to bleed more easily. Acidic foods left on the teeth can also demineralise teeth, eventually causing cavities.

It is easy to floss. Hold the floss tautaround the middle finger and/or index finger, and supported with the thumb on each hand. Then gently move it up and down between each tooth. Then curve the floss around each tooth instead of moving up and down on gums, which are much more sensitive than teeth. One should use an unused section of the floss when moving around different teeth. Removing floss from between teeth requires using the same back-and-forth motion as flossing, but gently bringing the floss up and out of gaps between teeth.

3. Use Mouthwash after brushing and flossing: A mouth rinse, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, can increase the cleanliness of your mouth. Antimicrobial mouth rinses reduce bacteria and plaque activity while helping to reduce and prevent tooth decay. Always check the manufacturer's label for precautions and age recommendations and always talk to your dentist about any new products you are interested in trying.

4. Avoid Tobacco: This will be a big favor to your teeth. One, it will save you from oral cancer and periodontal complications. Two, it will save you from the countless ill effects caused by the agents used to mask the smell of tobacco. For example, if you smoke a cigarette, you may use candies, tea or coffee to mask the smoky breath and odor. This doubles the amount of damage caused.

5. Reduce Sodas, Coffee and Alcohol: These beverages contain a high level of phosphorous, which is a necessary mineral for a healthy mouth in small quantities. However, too much phosphorous can deplete the body’s level of calcium leading to dental hygiene problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. Beverages containing additives such as corn syrup and food dye can make pearly white teeth appear dull and discolored. Therefore, it is best to choose beverages like milk, which helps strengthen teeth and build stronger enamel, giving you a healthy, beautiful smile and water which hydrates your body longer than sugary drinks.

6. Avoid sugary foods: When bacteria in the mouth break down simple sugars, they produce acids that can erode tooth enamel, opening the door to decay. Sugary drinks, including soft drinks and fruit drinks as well as carbonated drinks make matters worse. Sticky candies are another culprit, because they linger on teeth surfaces

7. Consume Calcium and other Vitamins that are good for the body: You need plenty of calcium for your teeth. It is essential for the teeth as well as your bones. It is better to drink milk, fortified orange juice and to eat yogurt, broccoli, cheese, and other dairy products. You can also take a calcium supplement, taking different doses according to your age and necessity as per prescription. It is important to consult your doctor before eating any vitamin supplements or taking any medications by yourself.

8. Visit Your Dentist: You should have a dental check-up every six months, but some people may not need to go so often and others may need more frequent checks. Your dentist will suggest when you should have your next check-up based on how good your oral health is. The time between check-ups can vary from three months to two years, depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are and your risk of future problems.If you are having tooth and jaw pain make an appointment as soon as possible. Your dentist needs to diagnose the underlying cause and correct it before it turns into a greater problem.

Almost all tooth decay and most gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene. Everyone understands that you should take care of your teeth to avoid toothaches, maintain your looks and keep dental bills at bay. Tooth problems can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other maladies. Crooked or crowded teeth can contribute to gum disease that can eventually lead to tooth loss. Straight teeth are no longer just for looks. Taking a few minutes each day to brush and floss is not a lot in return for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

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