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A Man’s Guide to Oral & Dental Care

by nick

Not only does practising good oral hygiene take care of bad breath, it also ensures that  you maintain a healthy white smile. A nice white smile is essential for a good look and making a lasting first impression.  Most women are attracted to men with nice teeth and a nice smile. So if your teeth are crooked, yellow and rotten, or you need a few tips on how to keep your smile looking healthy, we provide you this guide on how to take care of your teeth.

Oral & Dental Care Basics

Brushing your teeth – It’s important to know how to brush your teeth properly to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Also, incorrect brushing can lead to tooth abrasion, a condition in which the surface of the tooth is worn away. The common cause of tooth abrasion is from a toothbrush. Delicate gum tissue is also at risk of damage from the toothbrush bristles, causing exposed root surfaces and tooth sensitivity.

Follow these instructions, to ensure that you’re brushing your teeth properly.

  • After flossing, moisten your toothbrush with water, and apply a thin strip of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Start with the back teeth (upper molars) on your left side and work in a clockwise direction. Point the bristles towards the gum line, in a 45-degree angle. Use a short circular motion for approximately 20 seconds.
  • After about 20 seconds, roll the brush head away from the gum line, so the bristles brush the surface of the tooth, removing food and plaque in the process.
  • Carry on working in a clockwise direction, ending with the lower back teeth on your left side. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the inside surface of the upper and lower back teeth.
  • Brush the surface of the upper front teeth by using the tip of the toothbrush head. Guide the bristles toward the gum line, and flick the surface of the tooth 2 – 3 times.
  • Position the bristles of the tip of the toothbrush toward the gum line, and flick the bristles up, away from the gum line in a sweeping motion, 2 – 3 times.
  • Brush the biting surface of the upper and lower premolars and molars using a circular motion.
  • Gently brush your tongue for 30 seconds and the inside of your cheeks using a light circular motion.
  • Finish by rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash.

Other tips when brushing your teeth:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day – once first thing in the morning and once in the evening just before you go to bed. Try not to eat or drink anything (apart from water) after you’ve brushed your teeth in the evening.
  • Always floss before brushing.
  • Replace your toothbrush at least once every three months or when you notice that the bristles are starting to bend and look worn out. Always replace your toothbrush after you’ve had a cold.
  • Electric toothbrushes are better as you don’t apply as much pressure to your teeth. If you’re suffering from tooth abrasion, always use an electric toothbrush.
  • Ensure that you visit a dentist at least once every six months, even if it’s just for a general check-up.

Flossing your teeth –  Flossing your teeth daily is essential for good oral hygiene but many men don’t understand why it’s so important. Flossing between your teeth is just as important as brushing. Brushing removes plaque from the surfaces of the teeth, but only flossing can remove plaque that builds up between the teeth.

Follow these instructions to ensure that you’re flossing your teeth correctly.

  • Start with about 18 – 24 inches of floss, wrap most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving the remaining inch or two of floss to work with.
  • Hold the floss tautly between your thumbs and forefingers of both hands.
  • Slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth.
  • When you reach the gum line, gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, ensuring that you go beneath the gum line.
  • Gently glide the floss up and down a few times between each tooth, including the back sides of your teeth.
  • Use clean bits of floss, as you move from tooth to tooth.

Other tips when flossing your teeth:

  • Dental floss is the most popular tool for flossing teeth. However there are alternative interdental items available such as dental picks and floss holders that are just as effective.
  • Always floss before brushing – the fluoride in toothpaste has a better chance of reaching between teeth.
  • Floss at least once a day – flossing in the evening before brushing will remove and loosen food and plaque that’s built up during the day.
  • Only use a strand of dental floss once. Floss will become frayed, bacteria will collect, and the floss will lose its effectiveness if used more than once.

The Importance of brushing and Flossing Your Teeth – Reasons why you need to brush and floss your teeth properly are:

  • Prevents tooth decay – tooth decay is the destruction of tooth structure and can affect both the enamel and the dentin layer of the tooth. Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates – sugars and starches; such as bread, milk, fruits, cakes, or sweets are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids. The combination of bacteria, acid, food debris and saliva form plaque, which sticks to teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, forming holes in the teeth called cavities – very painful!
  • Prevents gum disease – Plaque can also irritate the gums and cause gum disease. Irritated gums can become red, swollen, sore, and bleed, causing gingivitis, which is the beginning stage of gum disease. Gingivitis can be treated and reversed if its diagnosed in the early stages. If plaque is not removed, the gums may start to pull away from the teeth, called periodontics, allowing bacteria and pus-filled pockets to form, damaging the bone that supports the teeth. Once the bone is damaged, the teeth will loosen or fall out.
  • Prevents life threatening conditions – Believe it or not, recent studies have shown that gum disease may contribute to or be warning signs of potentially life threatening conditions such as heart disease and stroke, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

Using a tongue cleaner – A tongue cleaner is a dental aid that helps remove bacteria, food debris, dead cells and postnasal drip from the surface of the rear of the tongue. The front of the tongue self-cleanses, but the back of the tongue requires a cleaner to remove bacteria. Regular use of tongue cleaners can result in less plaque and help prevent bad breath.

It’s important to select a tongue cleaner that fits your mouth and is easy to maintain. Some men will use their toothbrush to clean their tongue, however this tends to just stir up the bacteria instead of actually removing it from their mouth. The use of a tongue scraper is much more effective and here’s how to use one correctly:

  • Stick out your tongue as far as possible.
  • Hold the tongue scraper at the two ends and place the arch of it to the back of your tongue, as far back as possible.
  • Scrape from back to front firmly several times.
  • Rinse the tongue scraper between each scrape. Make sure that you wash off all the bacteria and saliva that’s collected on the scraper.
  • Rinse your mouth once you’re done using mouthwash.
  • Wash your tongue scraper thoroughly in hot water, dry and put away.

Other tips when using a tongue scraper:

  • Be careful not to apply too much pressure when cleaning your tongue. Hard pressure can damage cells on the surface of your tongue, especially at the back of your mouth.
  • To use a tongue scraper properly, you need to place it as far back as possible on the tongue. This will naturally cause a gagging reaction. If you have a strong gag reflex, don’t worry. The more you use a tongue scraper, the more your reflex will become desensitized. After a week or so, it’ll be less of an issue.

Using mouthwash – Mouthwash is a product that you can use as part of your oral hygiene routine. Mouthwashes are designed to further clean your mouth after you’ve brushed and flossed. As mouthwash is a liquid, it can reach areas within your mouth that toothpaste cannot. Although useful, it needs to be made clear that mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing your teeth and flossing.

To use mouthwash correctly, follow these instructions:

  • Pour roughly 20ml of mouthwash into a small cup.
  • After flossing and brushing your teeth, pour the mouthwash into your mouth – do not swallow.
  • Gargle in your mouth for about 45 seconds.
  • Spit it out in the sink.

Other tips when using mouthwash:

  • Use mouthwash that contains fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay.
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash that’ll help fight against gum disease and keep the mouth clean.
  • Don’t rinse your mouth with water immediately after using mouthwash. The cleansing properties of mouthwash continue to work after you’ve spit it out. Rinsing with water will dilute the wash and minimize the effects.

Your dental care routine – Now that we’ve discussed the basics of dental care, we will now provide a dental care routine that you can follow at least twice daily; morning and evening.

  • Rinse your mouth with cold water to get rid of loose debris between your teeth.
  • Floss your teeth using dental floss – you only need to floss your teeth once a day. We recommend that you floss your teeth in the evening to remove any bits of food and plaque between teeth that may have built up during the day.
  • Gently brush your teeth for at least two minutes, preferably using an electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean your tongue using a tongue scraper.
  • Rinse your mouth using an antiseptic, fluoride mouthwash.
  • Rinse your mouth with cold water to complete the wash.

What’s Next?

Now that you know how to keep your teeth clean and your mouth fresh, the next thing you’ll need to know is how to keep your teeth white and stain free. Let’s find out…

Keeping Your Teeth White

Now you know how to care for your teeth, we’ll now discuss how to keep your teeth white. Of course, there’ll be some of you that won’t need your teeth whitened, but for those of you that have stained yellow teeth, teeth whitening is something that you must consider for a bright white smile.

Firstly, there are two types of tooth stains that we need to talk about; extrinsic staining and intrinsic stains.

  • Extrinsic stains are those that appear on the surface of the teeth due to the regular exposure to dark-coloured beverages (coffee), foods and tobacco, and general wear and tear. Superficial extrinsic stains are minor and can be removed with brushing and prophylactic dental cleaning. Some extrinsic stains are more stubborn and can be removed with more involved procedures, such as teeth bleaching. It’s important to treat extrinsic stains early –persistent extrinsic stains can penetrate into the dentin and can become ingrained if they’re not dealt with.
  • Intrinsic stains are those that arise on the interior of teeth. These stains result from aging and trauma. Deep-set intrinsic stains can be removed with supervised take home teeth whitening that’s maintained over a number of months or even a year.

The most common teeth whitening options available are:

At the dentist – Most dentists offer teeth whitening services which can be very effective, although they can be expensive. The most common method is bleaching which is done using custom fitted mouth trays and bleaching gel. First, your dentist will make moulds of your upper and lower teeth and create custom mouth guard trays for your mouth. To protect your gums the dentist will leave a gap between the tray and your gums when moulding the tray. A fairly high concentration peroxide gel will then be applied.

After the first treatment you’ll usually be supplied with a bleaching kit to carry out the rest of the treatment at home. You’ll probably be told to apply a thin line of gel into the mouth guards and wear them overnight – not exceeding eight hours, for one to two weeks.  The dentist will probably ask that you to return in a week to check your progress.

Laser teeth whitening – An expensive but effective way to whiten your teeth. Often carried out at specialist clinics, unlike bleaching, laser teeth whitening is usually carried out in one session.

Home whitening kits – A cheaper alternative is to use a do-it-yourself teeth whitening kit. You’ll have to create a mould of your teeth by warming up the mouth trays and pressing them into your teeth. You then apply the whitening gel and wear it regularly over a number of days. The peroxide gel is considerably weaker than that you would find in a dentist and therefore not as effective.

Whitening toothpaste – Generally whitening toothpastes are not very different form ordinary toothpastes. They slowly help remove surface stains and prevent yellowing from returning once you’ve had them bleached, but used by themselves, toothpastes won’t provide the quick fix that you’ll see with bleaching.

Keeping Your Teeth Straight

It’s very important to know how to straighten teeth. Along with stained yellow teeth, crooked teeth can badly effect a man’s self-esteem. To straighten your teeth, you can use any of the following procedures:

Traditional orthodontic braces – An expensive and lengthy procedure. Probably the best method for straightening teeth and once you’ve gone through the lengthy process of at least two years, your teeth will be well aligned and straight.

Invisalign – This is the most modern approach to straightening teeth. Custom-made aligners that are made from invisible plastic are created for you to simply wear over your teeth. Wearing these aligners gradually shift your teeth into place, based on the movements that your dentist plans out for you. Unlike traditional orthodontic braces, there are no metal brackets to attach and no wires to tighten. The best part of this method is that most people won’t even know that you’re straightening your teeth.

Porcelain veneers – Another option, but a very expensive way to straighten your teeth without braces. If you decide to opt for veneers, your dentist will apply veneers directly to your teeth. There’s no pain associated with having veneers and you’ll see immediate results. Veneers are also a great way to whiten your smile.

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