Although diet, hydration, and chronic illness can all have an impact on dental health, nothing is more impactful than dental hygiene. Insufficient or incorrect brushing and flossing can lead to a host of problems, including advanced gum disease and widespread tooth loss. Following are six common oral hygiene problems along with a few tips for resolving them.
1. Chronically Bad Breath
Chronic halitosis or constantly foul-smelling breath can often be attributed to poor dental hygiene. Even if you’re brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, you may not be doing the best job. You can ask your dentist for tips during your next check-up to make sure that your mouth is getting the needs-specific care it requires.
In general, brushing should be performed with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and each brushing session should last between one and two minutes. Brush your teeth in a slow, circular motion with high-quality, fresh-smelling toothpaste. Floss twice daily with wax-coated floss or with wax-coated floss swords while making sure to use curved movements that follow the shape of each tooth along the gum line. This will remove trapped food debris that may be harboring odor-causing bacteria.
You can finish your tooth care by rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. However, if your bad breath persists and if no underlying dental problems exist, you should consult with your general doctor. This may be a sign of other health issues.
2. Calcium Deposits on Teeth
Calcium deposits on the front or back sides of the teeth are common among people who wear braces or who’ve recently worn them. However, anyone can get them. They’re the result of having calcium phosphate from your saliva adhere to build-ups of existing plaque and other debris on the tooth surfaces. Calcium deposits tend to have a thick, white, chalky look.
Unfortunately, most calcium deposits can’t be simply brushed away. To preserve the integrity of your natural tooth structures and their protective enamel coating, you should have these removed during your routine dental cleanings.
Professional teeth whitening services can brighten up areas that have been discolored by these formations. Keeping your teeth clean and plaque-free will prevent new deposits from forming. You can also seek dietary advice from your dentist to eliminate foods that create acidic conditions at the mouth interior. Adjusting your mouth’s pH will both prevent these build-ups and limit the likelihood of cavities.
3. Bleeding Gums
Red, irritated gums sometimes indicate hormonal change. For instance, it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to contend with bleeding and receding gums. However, unhealthy gums are also an indication of developing gingivitis. They’re a likely sign that you aren’t flossing correctly or often enough. If left untreated, gingivitis can give way to advanced periodontal disease, tooth loss, and the gradual deterioration of the bones that support your teeth.
If you aren’t flossing, now is the time to start. You can apply a drop or two of an antiseptic essential oil to your floss before inserting it. This will make it easier to get between teeth that are overlapping or have minimal space between them. It will also minimize odor and decay-causing bacteria. You should use an antiseptic mouthwash when you’re finished flossing or rinse your mouth with a mild saltwater solution.
If flossing is uncomfortable or difficult to do, invest in a good water pick. Water picks additionally offer a comfortable and effective way to clean under, around, or in-between partials, bridges, and other dental prostheses. When bleeding gums are a persistent issue, you should additionally increase the number of professional dental health services you receive each year.
4. Tooth Discoloration
Like all other dental problems, tooth discoloration has many possible causes. Sometimes tooth staining is the result of drinking too many dark-colored beverages like black coffee, tea, or red wine. At other times, this issue is directly related to how people are cleaning their teeth.
Surprisingly, stains adhere more readily to build-ups of plaque than they do to healthy, enamel-covered tooth structures. When your teeth are in good health, they’re naturally pretty stain-resistant. Thus, although you might think that you’re looking at stained teeth when grinning in the mirror, what you’re likely seeing is discolored deposits of tartar and plaque. The best remedy is to schedule an appointment for professional teeth cleaning. If there’s residual discoloration after your cleaning is done, you can always sign up for an in-office whitening treatment.
5. Receding Gums
Are your gums drawing up and away from your teeth to leave the soft, underlying dentin exposed? If so, you might be brushing your teeth too hard or you may be using the wrong type of toothbrush. Switching to a softer toothbrush and brushing less aggressively should bring the problem to an end.
The gum tissues like having a smooth, clean surface to adhere to. Thus, sometimes recession is the result of having accumulated plaque near the gum line. The surest way to get rid of build-ups that your toothbrush or floss can’t handle is by visiting a dentist.
6. Progressive Tooth Decay
Even the very best brushing and flossing techniques don’t always keep problems at bay. If you have painful teeth, teeth that chip, crack, or easily break off, you want to see a dentist right away. These issues are often a sign of progressive, ongoing oral infections. However, they can also be indicative of nutritional deficiencies, underlying, unmanaged health conditions, and serious orthodontic problems.
Good dental hygiene can go a long way toward preserving the health, integrity, and aesthetic beauty of your smile. When dental hygiene-related problems arise, tweaking your daily habits and consulting with a dentist will limit their long-term effects.