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Advice to keep those pearly white teeth in tip-top shape

A dentist works on a patient/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 10 – There’s a reason it’s called a winning smile; a smile not only elevates your mood, research shows it also positively affects the moods of those around us as guess what? A smile is contagious.

Add to that the fact that smiling actually makes us more attractive; and our chompers prove themselves to be quite the asset in everyday type situations such as the job interview or talking our way out of a traffic ticket.

So here are a few tips to keep those pearly whites in tip-top shape and to keep you from self-consciously cupping your hand over your mouth in conversation either out of embarrassment over their state or a fear of having bad breath.

1. Water is your friend
Among its numerous other health benefits, water helps fight off tooth decay by helping wash away food particles stuck to our teeth and by ensuring you don’t end up creating conditions conducive to tooth decay as a result of a dry mouth.

So the next time you’re offered a free soda with your meal, turn it down for a bottle of water as the acid in carbonated drinks eat away at the enamel of your tooth and the sugars in the drinks feed cavity causing bacteria.

2. Brush, yes, twice a day
Your morning heavy lidded, weak wristed toothbrush routine isn’t enough. Why it’s so important to brush before hitting the sack is because the production of saliva decreases when you sleep and as is already well documented, when the cat’s away, the mice will play so if you fail to wash away the remnants of your evening meal, decay causing bacteria will have a party in your mouth.

Also, don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every three months or when it begins to show wear and if you’re curious as to what to look for in a toothbrush, most professionals recommend a soft-bristled, small headed brush so it’s easy to reach the back teeth.

You should also make a point of replacing your toothbrush after suffering from a cold as the toothbrush can collect germs that would lead to re-infection.

As for the correct brushing technique, hold your brush against your gum line at a 45-degree angle and clean your teeth in small circular motions, not forgetting the biting surfaces, tongue and roof of your mouth. All of which should take no less than two minutes.

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3. Floss instead of toothpicks
Ditch the toothpicks and while at it drop that nasty habit of chewing on your pen’s tip. Both affect the structural integrity of your tooth. What you really should be doing, is flossing. This is important because it dislodges the food particles that get caught in between your teeth and which your toothbrush finds hard to reach. It also prevents plaque buildup in which bacteria proliferate.

The correct technique for flossing is breaking off about 45cms of floss, wrapping the edges around your index or middle fingers, using your thumbs, slide a 5cm portion between your teeth to the base of your gum cupping it around the side of one tooth in an up and down motion, followed by the other till you’ve covered the entire mouth.

Failure to floss means you’re leaving up to 40 per cent of your tooth’s surface uncleaned.

4. If you must, snack on these foods…
An apple a day keeps the doctor away doesn’t sound quite as cliché when you realise that chewing on them (skin on), carrots, celery, and cucumbers (again, skin on) helps clean your teeth by dislodging plaque in addition to stimulating production of saliva.
It is however worth noting that apples do contain sugars and there are dentists who aren’t convinced that the fibrous cleaning benefits of the fruit outweigh the damage that could be caused by its sugars.

Chewing on sugar-free gum is also recommended after meals but there are concerns over the long-term health impacts of artificial sweeteners and it could leave you bloated.

5. Over 25? Get a professional cleaning bi-annually
In addition to getting rid of those pesky stains, this also provides your dentist an opportunity to regularly check-up on your oral health.

6. Pregnancy, diabetes, cholesterol and oral health
Did you know that oral health complications could be an indicator that more serious health problems are at play including diabetes? Did you also know that bacteria buildup in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and increase your chances of suffering from a stroke or heart attack?

And finally, if you’re expecting, you need to take extra special care of your chompers as the retching that accompanies morning sickness weakens your enamel, your hormones could make you make you susceptible to gum disease and your cravings, if not properly managed could lead you down a path of tooth decay.

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