10 dental health tips to keep your smile bright

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in Australia, making Dental Health Week a great time to brush up on the ins and outs of oral health.

A healthy smile is an asset but it does require a little work. Australia’s report card on dental health shows a third of adults have untreated tooth decay and less than half are brushing twice a day.

“Clearly some of us take our teeth for granted,” the Australian Dental Association’s Mikaela Chinotti says. “It’s little wonder tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in Australia.”

“Keep your smile for life” is the theme for Dental Health Week this year, and Dr Chinotti has 10 tips for maintaining a dazzling grin.

1. Spit don’t rinse

Resist rinsing your mouth after brushing and you will leave a residue of fluoride, which provides longer-lasting protection.

2. Floss off

Cleaning between teeth with floss removes plaque and leftover food pieces that can lead to cavities or gum disease from places your toothbrush can’t reach.

3. Saliva is vital

It helps us to speak, chew and swallow food, and protects teeth by washing away food and bacteria and neutralising acids. See your dentist if your mouth is often dry.

4. Tongue twister

Your tongue is a heavy lifter that can help “scavenge” after eating to remove food stuck around the teeth.

5. A knockout

Put a completely knocked out tooth back into its original position, or place in milk or saline for transporting, before heading straight to the dentist.

6. Embrace your enamel

It’s the hardest substance in your body but, unlike bone, tooth enamel can’t fix itself when damaged. You need to protect yours.

7. Banish bugs

The hundreds of species of bacteria found in your mouth can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Sugar feeds bacteria, so stick to six teaspoons or less a day.

8. Wise up on wisdoms

Poorly positioned wisdom teeth can impact teeth next door and can lead to tooth loss in severe cases. See your dentist for advice.

9. Links to overall health

Mouth problems can increase the risk of other health complications including stroke, diabetes and heart disease, making oral health vital.

10. Teeth for life

“Your adult teeth need to last a lifetime, so brush morning and night with a soft-bristle brush, floss daily, eat a nutritious diet low in sugar and see your dentist regularly,” Dr Chinotti advises.

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Written by Liz McGrath