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The white stuff

Perhaps you’ve got the daily exercise plan in action and healthy eating on track. But what about your dental health?

Only 51 per cent of Australian adults brush their teeth the recommended twice a day, according to research by the Australian Dental Association and Australian Health Policy Collaboration at Victoria University.

Dental check-ups, too, can get put into the too-hard or the too-costly basket.

The result, according to the research, is 90 per cent of Australian adults have experienced decay in their permanent teeth.

With links between poor dental health and other health issues including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and respiratory illness, there’s lots of reasons to form a closer relationship with your toothbrush.

Here are five ways to keep on smiling as the years roll on:


Make brushing and flossing a twice-a-day ritual

If you’re tempted to bypass the morning and nightly brushing and flossing routine, don’t. Plaque is always forming on your teeth. If you don’t remove this bacteria it can cause soreness, bleeding and swelling in your gums and even lead to infections that damage the bone underneath. If that happens it can be painful, or even impossible, to wear dentures.


Upgrade your equipment

Struggling to hold or manoeuvre a toothbrush or dental floss? There may be some better alternatives to plugging away with an ordinary toothbrush. For instance, wrapping something around the handle could make it easier to hold. Or an electric toothbrush with a wider grip could be the answer.

Instead of dental floss you could find using dental tape or a dental pick might be a simpler way to access those hard-to-get-areas between your teeth.


Book in for a check-up

Just as you would have your car serviced regularly, it will help prevent problems if you go to see the dentist every six months for a check-up and clean. As well as checking for loose teeth, your dentist can check for any lumps or bumps that may lead to oral cancer and ask questions about any loss of taste.


Don’t grin and bear it

If you’re experiencing pain, bleeding when you brush your teeth, or swelling of the gums then don’t put up and shut up. Make time to pay a visit to the dentist. Receding gums, bad breath, and wobbly teeth can also indicate it’s time to put a dental appointment in your diary. Left unchecked these warning signs can turn into bigger issues including loss of teeth. It can also harm your gums and bones.


Take care of your falsies

Even if you have dentures or implants you’re not off the hook. It’s important to take care of dentures and implants just as you would your natural teeth. Plaque and tartar can still build up on dentures. Take your dentures out every night and soak them overnight. This will help loosen plaque and tartar. They can be soaked in warm water only if the dentures have metal clasps or in a half/half mixture of water and vinegar if you don’t have metal clasps.