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World Oral Health day spotlights a component of health that can be easy to overlook. Proper oral hygiene not only means healthier teeth and gums, it can also improve your self-image, reduce your risk of infection and inflammation elsewhere in the body, and even lower your risk of heart disease!
The American Dental Association focuses on four routines that can help people maintain healthy smiles: brushing, flossing, rinsing, and chewing. According to the American Dental Association, you should be brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush. The size and shape of the brush should fit your mouth properly, allowing you to reach all areas easily.
Did you know that there's a proper brushing technique? According to the American Dental Association, you should use a five step technique to ensure the health of your teeth and gums.
Step 1: Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gums. This ensures that you reach all of the necessary places where tartar and plaque build up.
Step 2: Gently move your toothbrush back and forth in short strokes. Brushing in a rough manner will only irritate your gums, cause them to swell, and possibly cause them to bleed.
Step 3: Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This will help clear out bacteria that have settled in your mouth.
Step 4: To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically, and make several up and down strokes. Sometimes, brushing horizontally does not allow you to clean your teeth properly.
Step 5: Brush your tongue. Yes, it's true. You should brush your tongue to remove the remaining bacteria, and keep your breath fresh. Contrary to popular belief, your breath is a by-product from what is in your stomach and on your tongue, not what is on your teeth.
Flossing is also hugely effective in cleaning between your teeth. Flossing allows you to get between the teeth to remove plaque that was not, or can not be removed by brushing. If left too long, plaque can harden into tartar. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day.
Teeth alone account for less than half of the mouth. That's why oral rinses were created. Rinsing can help eliminate biofilm and bacteria that brushing and flossing alone cannot. Rinsing often, along with brushing and flossing, helps reduce the chance of dental decay and infection.
Finally, some clinical studies have recently shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. The chewing of sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other bacteria, neutralizes acids produced by the bacteria in the mouth, and provides disease fighting substances throughout the mouth.
Remember, oral health is crucial to your overall health and well-being. Many diseases begin in the mouth and can quickly travel through the bloodstream. As we get older, dental care is even more important simply because of the conditions that lack of oral care can cause. Some of these conditions include:
All of these conditions are serious and can lead to even bigger health problems. By maintaining our oral health, we are taking the steps to protect the rest of our body from serious medical conditions.