Oral Health for Busy Lives is the theme of this year’s Dental Health Week, which runs from August 7 to 13.
An initiative of the Australian Dental Association (ADA), the aim of the week is to help you appreciate that, no matter how busy you are, it is possible to fit caring for your teeth and gums into an already-overcrowded diary.
It is important to take the time to brush and floss properly year-round, and to make booking time with your dentist as great a priority as booking your car in for a service or seeing your hairdresser.
Treating dental health as an “optional extra” can lead to big problems later.
The ADA recommends the following;
Brush your teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day, with fluoride toothpaste.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with small head and flexible neck. Clean teeth systematically, holding the toothbrush at gumline at a 45-degree angle.
Don’t press too hard – you may damage gums and tooth enamel. Replace your toothbrush every three months.
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Make daily flossing part of your oral hygiene regime.
Ask your dentist to demonstrate the correct flossing technique, and whether interdental brushes or floss holders will help your flossing. Children should also start flossing as soon as they have two teeth that touch.
Limit your sugar intake, as it is the single biggest cause of tooth decay.
Avoid fizzy drinks – fluoridated tap water is best.
Read the ingredients label on food products, as many have hidden sugars.
Choose teeth-friendly foods such as cheese, nuts and vegetables. Avoid snacking and grazing.
Have regular dental check-ups.
Be sure to visit your dentist at least once a year.
Wear a mouthguard.
Each year, thousands of adults and children are treated for dental injuries that could have been prevented or minimised by simply wearing a mouthguard.
The ADA strongly recommends participants “play it safe” and use a mouthguard in any sport or activity where collision or contact is likely, at both games and training.
Dental trauma from sporting injury can include nerve damage, fractured, cracked or knocked-out teeth, a broken jaw, tongue damage and cut lips. A single case of dental trauma could lead to a lifetime of dental treatment in order to maintain the strength and health of the damaged tooth/teeth.
A custom-fitted mouthguard designed by your dentist makes breathing and speaking easier when wearing it. They are more comfortable than their ill-fitted “boil-and-bite” counterparts purchased from a chemist or sports store that offer less protection.