Friday 20th March is World Oral Health Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about good oral hygiene and its impact on oral and general health.
To help you look after your mouth and keep yourself healthy, we have pulled together eight top tips for excellent oral health:
- Use the right toothbrush – an electric one if possible, but if you need to use a manual brush, choose one with stiffer bristles that won’t damage your gums and enamel. It is worthwhile replacing your brush/brush head every three months so that the bristles don’t wear down or have chance to accumulate dirt and bacteria.
- …And the right toothpaste – one that contains fluoride, ideally 1350 – 1500 ppm (you can find this information on the tube). It is also advised to spit rather than rinse after you have brushed your teeth, to help the fluoride stay on the tooth’s surface and protect it.
- Clean between the teeth – rather than just the tooth itself, at least once a day to remove food and bacteria. Without cleaning between the teeth, you are missing around 40% of the tooth surfaces. You can use floss or an interdental brush or bottle brush, and for maximum results, speak to your dental team about which would be best for your mouth and ask them for the best technique.
- Take a vitamin D supplement – to help absorb calcium and build strong bones and teeth. In the UK we are only able to produce the vitamin for around six months of the year as it comes from sunlight. So, it is recommended to take a supplement between October and March, and if you are already deficient, you may need to take a higher dose initially.
- Minimise sugar and acid in your diet – to limit the risk of decay and tooth wear that they cause. You can do this by keeping snacking to a minimum and drinking milk or water between meals. If you have a real craving for a sweet treat, try consuming it immediately after another meal.
- Stub out the cigarettes – which can cause different types of cancer, heart disease, stroke and gum disease. Stopping smoking, especially if it is a long-held habit, is not always easy but there are dedicated cessation support organisations out there, and your dental practice will also be able to advise you.
- Check yourself for lumps – which are a symptom of mouth cancer. Look at your face in the mirror and see if one side is more swollen than the other, use your fingers to check for lumps along the sides and front of the neck and jaw. Check inside the cheeks and lips and underneath the tongue for any changes in colour, swelling, ulcers and tenderness. If you notice any lumps that don’t go away, any numbness of your lips or tongue, or a mouth ulcer that lasts longer than three weeks, you should make an appointment to see your GP or dentist.
- Attend your dental practice regularly – to maintain good oral health and prevent any deterioration. A regular check-up will provide opportunity for any current or potential problems to be spotted and, if necessary, acted on. Earlier identification of any issues can mean that the required treatment is more straightforward and cost-effective than if it is left to worsen.
These are eight fairly simple steps you can take to help maintain and improve your oral health. However, generally looking after your mouth and teeth in the right way, choosing positive lifestyle options and taking a proactive approach to your oral health, is a great way to stay healthy.