Brushing up for Dental Health Week

Good oral health is fundamental to your overall health and wellbeing.

But without it, your ability to eat, speak and socialise is compromised, often resulting in pain and embarrassment.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, more than 72,000 Australians were hospitalised in 2017-2018 for dental conditions that could have been prevented with earlier treatment.

Adding to this, more than one million dental prescriptions are dispensed across the nation each year helping Australians recover from their dental discomfort.

August 2-8 is Dental Health Week, focussing on the importance to taking proactive steps to care for your teeth and gums to ensure you keep smiling now and into the future.

What is oral health?
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, oral health refers to the condition of a person’s teeth and gums, as well as the health of the muscles and bones in their mouth.

Poor oral health, which includes tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss, affects many people over a lifetime, however with preventative strategies this can be reduced.

There are four themes to this year’s Dental Health Week that will have you practicing good teeth and mouth hygiene in no time.

Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
It is all in the technique when it comes to brushing your teeth – how often, how long and the toothbrush you use can all influence the effectiveness of your brushing.

  1. Consider starting at the back of your mouth with the bristles placed at the gumline.
  2. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle, brushing gently in a backwards-forward motion.
  3. Take care to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, making sure you reach in the inside surfaces of the front of the teeth.
  4. Once you’ve finished brushing, spit out the excess toothpaste but do not rinse your mouth with water. Leaving a thin layer of toothpaste on the surface of your teeth helps protect them for longer.

The Australian Dental Association recommends that you should brush twice a day and look to use a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles.

If you have trouble using a manual toothbrush, you may consider an electric toothbrush. Some even come with a built-in pressure sensor that will warn you when you are brushing too harshly as well as an in-built timer.

Clean between your teeth with floss or interdental brushes.
As well as brushing, it is recommended that you should clean between your teeth where food can often get stuck at least once a day with floss or interdental brushes.

These tools help remove the plaque from between your teeth preventing gum disease, decay and bad breath. So how do you floss?

  1. Wind about 45 centimetres around your middle finger and grip it tightly between your thumb and index fingers.
  2. Keeping the thumb and forefingers close together, gently guide the floss between the teeth, taking care not to cut or damage your gums with the movement.
  3. To clean the “neck” of the tooth, which is the point it meets the gums, curl the floss and insert it gently under the gum.
If flossing is not your idea of fun, then consider visiting your dentist and asking for recommendations for interdental brushes. The brushes are easy to use and help in fighting gum disease.
  1. Choose the correct size of interdental brush – it could be different for different parts of your mouth. Hold the brush firmly between your thumb and index finger.
  2. Place the brush bristles between your teeth gaps and brush in and out a few times between each tooth.
  3. Rinse the brush under tap water when you are finished and put the cover back on for next time.

East a healthy, balanced diet and limit your added sugar intake.
Everything you eat and drink can have an impact on the health of your teeth and gums. Sugar from the food and beverages we consume is taken up by decay-causing bacteria that live on our teeth.

The bacteria then process the sugar, turning it into acid that impacts the tooth.
Some top tips from reducing your sugar consumption include:

  1. Drink lots of water. Water is the best choice for your teeth, it is sugar-free and in most areas of Australia it contains fluoride.
  2. Did you know that one 600ml bottle of soft drink contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar? That is over twice the recommended daily sugar intake for adults. To know how much sugar is in the foods and drinks you consume, it is best to read the Nutrition Information label to ensure you are making a healthy choice.
  3. Read the label. When deciding between products based on sugar content, look at the amount of sugar per 100 grams. This will allow you to compare “apples with apples”. To check for added sugars, it is best to read the list of ingredients as sugar can go by over 50 names making it tricky to identify.
  4. Gum? Studies show that chewing sugar-free gum for 20-minutes after eating can help your mouth to produce more saliva, which neutralises decay-causing acid.

Visit the dentist regularly for check-ups and preventive care.
It should not be normal for you to expect that your teeth will need to be removed throughout your lifetime because of tooth decay or gum disease. To ensure that your teeth stay in top condition, it is advised that you visit the dentist regularly.

Most dentist recommend a routine dental check every six to 12 months, but this approach does not necessarily work for everyone. Some people may need to visit more or less frequently. The best way to find out is to visit your dentist.

St.LukesHealth can help you find a dentist through HealthShare, a digital platform that can assist you to find a specialist in your area. For more information, visit https://stlukes.com.au/for-members/find-a-provider
 

Information sourced from www.ada.org.au
 
 
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