Keeping your smile in tip-top condition should be one of your priorities. Apart from the well-documented health advantages of strong, well-aligned and efficiently functioning chompers, there is also the aesthetics side – who doesn’t love a big bright smile? We talk to two dentists in Singapore about the do’s and don’ts, from tongue-scraping and chewing ice to flossing and fluoride.
Dentists Talk: Do’s and don’ts
We tend to take our teeth for granted, especially those who are naturally blessed, say DR DAPHNE CHUA and DR THEAN TSIN PIAO of Aesthete Smilestudio. These top dentists in Singapore have seen their fair share of dental don’ts!
So, what would they recommend? Here’s what they suggest doing (and not doing) to keep your teeth and you looking great.
Do: Brush your teeth
To keep decay away, brush at least twice a day – in the morning, and the last thing before you go to bed at night. That’s to get rid of the zillions of bacteria in our mouth that gather in the crevices between the teeth. The acid they release is the main cause of cavities.
Do: Floss every night!
It’s not much fun and lacks the instant gratification of that zingy, minty, just-brushed feeling, but some believe that flossing may be even more important than brushing. That’s because flossing gets right down between the teeth to remove plaque build-up before it has time to cause periodontitis, tooth loss and gingivitis (gum infection).
Do: Use a fluoride toothpaste
Use a fluoride toothpaste and rinse daily with fluoride, says Dr Chua. Rinse for a full minute at a time, and ideally after your bedtime brushing and flossing. Why? A fluoride rinse hardens the surfaces of the teeth, making them more resistant to decay. Be sure not to swallow the stuff, though – fluoride can be toxic when ingested.
Do: Make a habit of tongue-scraping
Tongue-scraping is not just an ancient Ayurvedic practice. Tongue-scraping is something we should all be doing every morning. Why? The spongy, bumpy texture of the tongue’s surface is a favourite place for bacteria to breed. So, getting rid of that layer of morning gunk by tongue-scraping will guard against halitosis, improve your sense of taste and prevent the bacteria from migrating to your just-brushed teeth.
Do: Limit acidic food and drinks
It’s a good idea to limit acidic food and drinks where possible, and be sure not to drink anything acidic at least half an hour before brushing. Despite their undoubted benefits, some of the worst culprits are citrus fruits, along with pickles, coffee, wine and soft drinks – and sugar, of course, which has little nutritional benefit. But you don’t have to give up that fresh lemon juice; try drinking it through a straw to limit interaction with your teeth!
Don’t: Chew ice
Chewing ice is terrible for your teeth because the low temperature of ice makes the enamel brittle and more vulnerable than usual to microscopic fractures and breakage. Watch out for popcorn kernels too. If you’re overwhelmed by the urge to crunch, go for celery sticks, baby carrots or an old-fashioned apple!
Don’t: Use your teeth as a bottle-opener
And don’t use them to rip off garment labels; or to open plastic packaging! Just don’t.
Do: Get enough calcium and other tooth-building minerals
Beneficial minerals can be found in dairy foods, seafood, leafy vegetables, legumes, soya, nuts and fish canned with their bones.
Do: Visit your dentist for regular check-ups
Early prevention and detection of problems is key. So, it’s wise to visit your dentist for regular six-monthly dental check-ups and cleanings.
Do: Talk to your dentist about straightening solutions
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, as teeth can continue to be straightened in adulthood. And, with more aesthetically pleasing options like Invisalign, clear ceramic and lingual braces available, more and more adults are deciding to correct their smiles. Properly aligned teeth bring with them numerous benefits, including a cleaner mouth, healthier gums and lower chances of abnormal tooth wear. Of course, having a better smile can also improve your confidence and positively impact your mental health.
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