Worried that you may not cleaning your teeth properly? If so, you are not alone (as found by a study from this university). But how can you tell if you need to brush better? What are the signs to look out for?
Why is proper cleaning important? Insufficient oral hygiene leads to increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease, as well as the potential for some general health issues (stronger links to such health problems are being found). But it is never too late to improve things, regardless of the state of your current dental health.
Let’s look at some tell-tale signs that your oral hygiene may not be up to scratch.
1. Bleeding gums
A biggie. When you are not cleaning properly, plaque will be allowed to build up. The bacteria in the plaque causes an inflammatory reaction in the gums. When gums bleed easily, such as when brushing, this is a sign of this inflammation. Also known as gingivitis, this can lead to more severe problems in the long term. So never ignore bleeding gums!
2. Bad breath
The majority of instances of bad breath are as a result of some oral problem. Plaque build-up is often the cause, either directly (plaque bacteria smells!) or indirectly from gum disease or decay. Simply chewing gum, mints or taking mouthwashes only masks the problem. Get brushing properly! For more on treatment of bad breath see here.
There are two big causes of tooth decay, sugary food intake and the plaque bacteria that breaks it down to release acid (that rots the tooth). Getting tooth decay can be a sign of a lack of oral hygiene and/or getting too much sugary foodstuff in your diet. See much more on the prevention of tooth decay here.
4. Self-check your oral hygiene routine
Here are some things you can do at home to test how well you are cleaning:
- Time yourself! Are you spending are least two minutes, twice a day, brushing? Are you spending the recommended thirty seconds in each quadrant. Many modern electric toothbrushes can help here with their built-in timers.
- Are you concentrating (at least a little!) on where you are cleaning? Daydreaming while brushing inevitably results in missing some spots!
- Disclosing tablets are a great way to check how well (or otherwise) you are removing plaque. They will show up any areas that you are missing after cleaning. Great for educating kids too.
- Have a look at your teeth! Can you see any white fluffy material (plaque) gathering around the gum line? Any darker harder debris (tartar, or calculus) build-up? Lots of staining on the teeth? All signs that you need to improve your oral-hygiene
5. Feedback from your dentist
One of the best ways to check if you need to clean better, is to get regular check-ups with your dentist. By checking for any of the issues listed above, your dentist is in the best position to give you tailored oral hygiene instructions.
Note that many of these issues may occur if we are brushing correctly, but are not flossing. Brushing alone only cleans around two-thirds of the surfaces of your teeth! Inter-dental cleaning at least once a day is also a must!
Also, cleaning “better” doesn’t just mean thrashing the toothbrush about for a bit longer! Proper technique involves gentle circular motions, getting around every area of your mouth and spending at least two minute twice a day doing so.
For more info see these articles…
Oral hygiene tips. Also leads to articles on selecting a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwashes.
As poor oral hygiene doesn’t lead to any pain (until it’s often too late!) people often ignore the issue. For your own benefit, don’t ignore any of these problems listed above!
If you have any concerns as to your oral hygiene (or any of the above issues), contact your dentist or hygienist. If issues such as bleeding gums or halitosis don’t resolve after improving your oral hygiene routine, then get in touch with your dental professional.