Proper oral hygiene is something that many of us fail to practice on a regular basis or don’t do it properly. Sometimes, we only realise the importance of proper teeth cleaning when we’re already struggling with some kind of tooth problem. Failing to maintain a good oral hygiene can lead to the formation of plaque (a film of bacteria that coats your teeth), which in turn can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

To prevent the occurrence of oral hygiene related tooth problems, here is a guide to proper teeth cleaning practices:

  1. Brush regularly and brush every surface of your teeth

Regular brushing means brushing at least twice a day for at least two minutes on each occasion. Brush your teeth thoroughly and don’t skip any surfaces. It doesn’t matter if you use a regular toothbrush or an electric one, the important thing is to brush every surface of your teeth. If you find that it’s easier to clean your teeth with an electric brush, then use an electric one.

  1. What to look for in a toothbrush?

Choose a toothbrush with a smaller head, which has long and short round-end bristles arranged in an angled way. Look for medium or soft bristles, as hard ones can hurt your gums. Electric brushes usually have an oscillating or rotating head, which may be a bit more efficient than a regular brush. But once again: regular brushing takes precedence over aspects related to the type of toothbrush that you’re using.

  1. What type of toothpaste should you use?

Choose a toothpaste that has fluoride in the right concentration. Adults are advised to use a toothpaste that contains around 1,350 ppm fluoride. Children above the age of six can also use family toothpastes that have a concentration of fluoride below 1,500 ppm. Children aged six and below should use a children’s toothpaste that contains at least 1,000 ppm of fluoride. Smaller children (under the age of three) should use just a dab of toothpaste, while children aged 3-6 should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.

  1. Brushing technique

Brush all surfaces of your teeth, both inside and outside surfaces, as well as the chewing surfaces. After brushing, don’t rinse with water immediately. Spit out the excess toothpaste and wait a little before you rise to allow fluoride enough time to make its effect.

  1. How about mouthwash?

Using a mouthwash is also a good teeth-cleaning habit that will prevent tooth decay. Don’t use a mouthwash immediately after brushing to avoid washing away the fluoride that was left by your toothpaste. Use a mouthwash after meals and wait for at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking.

  1. Flossing

Flossing regularly helps reduce the risks of developing gum diseases, and it is also effective in reducing bad breath. Flossing removes plaques that formed along the gum line. To maximise the effects of flossing, try to floss before brushing your teeth.

  1. Interdental brushes

If you find that you dislike flossing or if you have gaps between your teeth, try using interdental brushes, which have similar effects to dental floss. Avoid using toothpicks to dislodge trapped food between your teeth. Toothpicks can damage your gums and you risk developing an infection.