Having a clean mouth is important. In addition to being healthier, it gives you fresh breath and a nicer smile. When you eat, bits of food, some too small for you to see, remain in your mouth. They feed bacteria that grow in a sticky film on your teeth. This film, called plaque, is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
Brushing your teeth after meals and between-meal snacks not only gets rid of the food particles that you can see, it removes plaque from your teeth. Using a fluoride toothpaste is important because the fluoride can help kill bacteria, as well as make your teeth stronger.
Ask your dentist or hygienist to recommed the best toothbrush for you. Generally, a brush with soft, end-rounded or polished bristles is less likely to injure gum tissue. The size and shape of the brush should allow you to reach every tooth. Children may need smaller brushes than those designed for adults. Remember: worn-out toothbrushes can not properly clean your teeth and may injure your gums. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three or four months.
Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gumline, areas your toothbrush can not reach. Because tooth decay and periodontal disease often start in these areas, it is important to clean them thoroughly on a daily basis. Flossing is a skill that still needs to learned. Do not be discouraged if you find it difficult at first. With practice, you will find that flossing takes only a few minutes of your time each day.
What about mouthrinses and mouthwashes?
If used as directed, in addition to brushing and flossing, mouthrinses and mouthwashes can help to prevent tooth decay.
How often should I see my dentist?
If possible, you should visit your dentist every six months for a preventative check and cleaning. Infants should see a dentist at about six months of age.
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