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Everything you need to know about dental hygiene

Everything you need to know about dental hygiene
From electric vs manual toothbrushes, to how poor dental hygiene can lead to dementia, here’s all you need to know to keep your teeth happy and healthy

Everything you need to know about dental hygiene

The road to good oral hygiene has been a long and at times, a surprising one. From the early days spent using twigs and pig bristles to clean our pearly whites, to the first toothbrush being invented by an inmate behind bars– the health of our teeth has always been a topic of great interest and speculation. 
However, even though we’ve made substantial progress with over 50 per cent of all dental visits now being preventative rather than restorative, many are often still confused over what’s actually best for their teeth. So, here’s the low down on everything you need to know about dental hygiene.

How brushing became a habit

At the beginning of the 20th century, only seven per cent of people brushed their teeth daily. Tasked with trying to sell a new toothpaste to the masses, innovative US marketer, Claude Hopkins, had to find a way to drastically increase this number. Consequently, he did something truly radical for the time and created what is today referred to as a “habit loop” which went as follows:
  • Create a cue: Hopkins encouraged the public to become aware of a “filmy” layer that was covering their teeth, preventing them from having a beautiful white smile.
  • Introduce a routine: to combat this filmy layer, Hopkins suggested that Americans got into the habit of brushing their teeth regularly.
  • Establish a reward: pursuing the ideal of having a dazzling set of white teeth, consumers soon began to associate a tingly sensation that was a by-product of one of the toothpaste’s ingredients with the sensation of having cleaner, whiter teeth. 
While this association between the tingly sensation and dental cleanliness was never scientifically proven, within ten years the number of people brushing their teeth rose to a whopping 65 per cent and Hopkins was heralded as a marketing genius.

Dental hygiene dramatically effects your overall health 

Often overlooked, our dental health can be a great indicator of our health at large and can predict the likelihood of developing diseases later in life. Therefore, committing to regular, efficient dental cleaning habits can reap serious, long-term benefits in the future. Here are some startling facts to consider:
  • Shockingly, those with between 0 and nine teeth are 81 per cent more at risk of developing dementiathan those with twenty teeth or more. 
  • The bacteria caused by gum disease can enter the blood stream and increase the likelihood of heart disease and of having a stroke. 
  • Pregnant women with periodontitis, an inflammation of the gums, are more likely to give birth prematurely or to give birth to babies with a lower birth weight.
  • Scientists in Japan found that those with 20 teeth or more by the time they are 70 lived longer than those with less teeth.

Sugar – the enemy of a healthy smile

One of the essential determinants of excellent dental hygiene, and therefore overall health, is a healthy diet. Sugar is one of the biggest threats to our teethand unfortunately is to be found in a vast majority of our daily food intake, often unbeknownst to us.
While tooth enamel is one of the strongest parts of our body, it is not immune to attack. When we consume a lot of sugar, acids are produced in the mouth which in turn draw out minerals from the teeth. While these minerals can be replenished by eating lots of calcium and phosphorous-rich foods such as milk, chicken, cheese and nuts, we put our teeth under immense stresswhen we expose them to a high-sugar diet. 
Consequently, it’s important to be informed about the six stages of tooth decay so that we can act faster if our teeth begin to show symptoms of deterioration:
  • Stage one – white spots
  • Stage two – enamel decay
  • Stage three – dentin decay
  • Stage four – involvement of pulp
  • Stage five – abscess formation
  • Stage six – tooth loss

Electric vs. manual toothbrushes

Whether to brush with a manual or an electric toothbrush is a question that has often perplexed the public. With a deluge of contradictory information, it can be difficult to know what is truly the best method for keeping our choppers clean and healthy, but scientists have now finally confirmed that using an electric toothbrush leads to:
  • 11 per cent less gingivitis
  • 21 per cent less plaque
  • Longer brushing time due to many electric brushes coming with inbuilt timers, which results in a more effective cleaning regime
However, while an electric toothbrush can clean teeth more effectively than a manual brush, it’s also important to implement a regular flossing regime to get to those areas deep between the teeth that a brush cannot reach.
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