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Teeth-cleaning mistakes

Teeth-cleaning mistakes
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You know the drill when it comes to keeping your teeth and gums healthy: Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day to maintain good oral hygiene. This helps to prevent plaque, a sticky white film that forms on teeth and can contain bacteria. Plaque build-up can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease.

Although you may be an avid tooth brusher and flosser, there are still errors you’re probably making with your oral care. Keep your teeth clean and healthy by avoiding these 12 common teeth-cleaning mistakes that make dentists cringe.

You only brush once a day

You only brush once a day
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Brushing your teeth only once a day is a habit that dentists aren’t that happy about. It can leave plaque at the gumline causing inflammation, says dentist Michael Kleinman. “When it gets advanced, the tissue starts to peel away from the root of the tooth, the gum and bone get infected and you can lose teeth.” Avoid this by brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush.

You ignore your gums

You ignore your gums
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If you don’t gently brush your gums too, you may increase your risk for tooth loss, Dr Kleinman explains. Inflammation along your gumline can trigger the process that can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. (The keyword here is gentle – too much pressure may damage your gums.)

Check out these 10 signs of gum disease you may be ignoring.

You go overboard with whitening products

You go overboard with whitening products
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Whitening toothpaste, strips and rinses all promise to give you a gleaming white smile. However, dentists advise exercising caution with whitening products.

Dentist Saul Pressner says the overuse of these products may increase tooth sensitivity. “Some of the whitening toothpastes can be too abrasive to the tooth surface,” says Pressner. A 2014 study in the Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice did find that the use of peroxide-based whitening methods is safe and effective for people as long as the manufacturer’s instructions are followed properly. Pressner recommends talking with your dentist about your options if you are interested in a whiter smile. It may be as simple as using a charcoal toothbrush.

Here’s are six tips to ensure you keep your teeth healthy.

You rarely replace your toothbrush

You rarely replace your toothbrush
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Your dentist gives you a free toothbrush in your goody bag for a reason – you should be changing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. If your toothbrush’s bristles are frayed and broken, it’s time to throw it out. It’s also important to bin your old toothbrush after a cold, flu, stomach bug or sore throat, Pressner says. Germs can lurk in-between the bristles and may make you sick again.

You rush through your brush

You rush through your brush
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Most people spend 45 seconds brushing their teeth. This is more than a minute shy of the suggested length of time. “It is recommended to brush twice daily for two minutes,” says paediatric dentist Fatina Shtivelman. This can be particularly challenging for kids, she adds. There are toothbrushes that can help children brush longer such as power toothbrushes with a light-up timer that flashes for 60 seconds for each row of teeth, she says.

Here are 10 things dentists always do to prevent tooth decay.

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You use the wrong toothbrush

You use the wrong toothbrush
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Manual toothbrushes are okay if you have good brushing technique, but if you don’t, you may not get the job done correctly, Dr Pressner says. “A power toothbrush can be more effective at removing plaque but you have to use it gently,” he says. “You can do more harm than good if you use a power toothbrush too aggressively,” he warns. Talk to your dentist about what kind of toothbrush is best for you.

You brush too hard

You brush too hard
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While not brushing hard enough can increase the risk of decay, pressing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear away gum tissue, Dr Pressner warns, and “gum tissue doesn’t go back.” This is both a cosmetic issue – a receding gumline can mar an otherwise perfect smile – but also a health issue, because it can increase the root’s vulnerability to damage and sensitivity to temperature. “Once you abrade gum tissue, your root is softer than the enamel so you can do damage more quickly.” The only way to reverse this is with bonding or highly invasive gum grafting procedures, he says. With bonding, your dentist attaches materials directly to your tooth, which protects the exposed root, he says. During gum grafting, gum tissue is taken from another part of your gum and attached to an area where it is receding.

Here are 12 signs you need to see a dentist right away.

You skip the floss

You skip the floss
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Failure to floss daily can be a problem. If you don’t floss daily, plaque sets up camp between your teeth, setting the stage for cavities and gum disease, Dr Pressner says. When you floss daily, don’t snap too hard as this can create gashes in your gums and cause bleeding, and may contribute to gum recession and gum disease. “Water flossers are great if use them horizontally to flush out any loose debris between your teeth instead of top to bottom, which can jam food into the pocket,” he says.

Here are 21 brilliant hacks for dental floss you’ll start using all the time.

You choose the wrong rinse

You choose the wrong rinse
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Mouthwashes or rinses can provide oral health benefits including reducing plaque and preventing decay and gum disease. Some contain alcohol, which can dry out your mouth, Dr Pressner says. “If your mouth is dry, you can’t produce saliva and saliva protects teeth from cavities.” During your next visit, ask your dentist about what specific mouth rinses you should use.

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Please be advised that our shipment of the June issue of Reader’s Digest Asia in Hong Kong has been delayed by approximately seven days. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Kind regards, Reader’s Digest Editors