â by Cate Stevenson, BA
By this point in your life, you are probably well-versed in all the reasons why it’s important to brush your teeth regularly. But just to make sure, here’s a quick refresher:
—Brush your teeth twice a day. Itâs up to you what type of toothpaste you want to use. There are those who recommend fluoride toothpastes and those who recommend fluoride-free toothpastes — do a little research and find out where you stand.
—Remember to replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. This is because a worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
—Here comes the tough one for most of us: clean between your teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Decay-causing bacteria can still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing helps to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth and under the gum line. If you’re not flossing properly, however, it doesn’t matter how often you do it, so make sure you ask your dentist about correct technique.
—Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
–Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
Now, here’s something you might not have heard before about tooth-brushing. According to the Mayo Clinic, avoiding brushing or flossing can increase your risk of health problems as serious as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Researchers at the famous clinic surveyed almost 12,000 people living in Scotland who admitted to how often they brushed their teeth. Over an average eight years of follow-up, people who “rarely or never brushed” their teeth had a 70% increased risk of a heart attack, stroke or other event, compared to those who brushed twice a day. The procrastinating teeth-brushers also had higher levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.
The researchers think that, while emphasis has already been placed on things such as smoking, exercise and diet when it comes to good health, they would like to see oral hygiene added to the list. The results of this study prove that it’s now appropriate to say “don’t smoke, eat right, and brush your teeth.”