The things you didn’t know about keeping a healthy smile

You may think that by brushing your teeth twice a day you will help keep your mouth healthy. But do you brush for long enough? And do you keep up with your dental appointments?

Recent research have shown that people with the most bacteria on the surface of their teeth and gums have an 80% increased risk of premature death, particularly from cancer.

So how can we keep our mouths healthy?

See your dentist regularly
Health guidelines advise that we shouldn’t leave longer than 24 months between dental appointments. If you have gum problems you should see your dentist every six months and those with good oral hygiene should go every 10 months.

Brush thoroughly
Twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is still enough, but brush properly. Always wait an hour to brush teeth after eating or drinking fruit juice, as acidic foods and drink soften the tooth enamel and leave it prone to damage.

Clean between teeth
A lot of decay and gum disease occurs between the teeth caused by food and the build-up of plaque, so this area shouldn’t be neglected. Floss once a day by sliding it gently up and down between your teeth, then curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gum line.

Chew gum after meals
Saliva is the tooth’s natural protective mechanism, and chewing gum helps produce it. Chew sugar-free gum after a meal or snack to increase saliva flow.

Scrape your tongue
Many toothbrushes have a scraper on the back for cleaning the tongue. Contrary to popular belief, the bacteria it removes is not connected to serious health conditions – but removing it may make us more pleasant to be around.

Use a mouthwash
This can be useful if it has additional effects, such as preventing decay or build-up of bacteria. But be warned, mouthwashes can’t replace brushing.

Monitor your gums
Our gums naturally start to recede as we age, but this can also indicate gum disease. Look out for bleeding gums as this is the first sign of the condition and means you need to see a dentist.