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Oral-health

Updated 20 September 2018

Oral care: The limitations of just brushing alone

Considering that teeth only comprise 25% of the mouth, brushing alone may not be enough to prevent bad breath, gingivitis and guard against cavities.

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Many people think that brushing your teeth twice a day is enough to maintain good oral health.

However, considering that teeth only comprise 25% of the mouth, brushing alone may not be enough to prevent bad breath, gingivitis and guard against cavities.

The bristles on a toothbrush and the mechanical act of brushing are great for scrubbing the surface of the teeth, but the mouth consists of many other hard-to-reach parts. To maintain an excellent level of oral hygiene and ensure your entire mouth is cared for, you should consider a more holistic approach. It is therefore a good idea to include a mouthwash, flossing and regular dental visits in your dental care routine. 

Brushing your teeth

Brushing your teeth twice a day is essential. This practice is a large contributor to maintaining clean teeth. As important as brushing your teeth is, it is, however, not sufficient. Because your teeth only comprise a quarter of your entire mouth, a large area is left uncleaned after brushing.

Brush twice daily

Make sure you brush effectively by using a good technique. The ADA recommends that you angle your toothbrush at 45 degrees in the direction of your gums. Move the brush from side to side, using tooth-wide strokes. Do this on both the outside and inside of the teeth, and then proceed to scrub the cusps of the teeth. This technique allows the bristles to access the plaque on the teeth as well as under the gum line.

Interdental cleaning/flossing

This is the one habit that’s a bit trickier to master and maintain. Flossing is a very effective way of removing food debris lodged between teeth or under the gum, i.e. the areas your toothbrush cannot access. There is a wide choice of interdental cleaners, which makes flossing a lot easier.

Interdental cleaning

Dentists say that most people don’t floss correctly. Try not to saw into your gums, but rather pull the floss flush against each tooth while moving up and down. This allows you to pull the floss down underneath the gum line and draw up the deeper plaque. According to the ADA, you should floss before you brush your teeth, which will help you remove food debris and plaque more easily when brushing. 

Mouthwash

A good way to end your cleaning ritual is to give your mouth a thorough rinse with an ADA accredited antimicrobial mouthwash. An antiseptic mouthwash gives your mouth a further clean, removing the food debris and plaque brought to the surface through brushing and flossing.

DentalBrilliance.com explains that mouthwash reduces your risk of gum disease by washing away bacteria and acids, and because of the thorough clean also decreases your risk of halitosis (bad breath). Modern mouthwashes have additional benefits such as cavity protection and whitening.

mouthwash

Dentist appointments

Dental visits should take place every three to 24 months, all depending on the health of your teeth and your oral health habits. According to DentalWellness4U.com, you should follow the recommendations of your dental practitioner. If you have excellent oral health habits and no oral health concerns, you should still go for a general check-up once a year, and cleaning every six months. 

Regular dental appointments

Image credit: iStock

 

Ask the Expert

Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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