Improve Your Oral Hygiene: How To Get Healthier Gums and Teeth

Better Oral Care

Do you have good oral hygiene? Do you keep your teeth and gums in tip-top condition?

I used to be very lazy where oral care is concerned. For example, I would brush my teeth in the morning, but I rarely brushed at night, simply because I never knew if I would be eating after brushing. Flossing was also never a habit. I didn’t like using the mouthwash either because it would burn my mouth. I didn’t think there would be any implications from a few nights of neglecting my oral care.

Well a few nights turned into weeks, which then turned into months, and then turned into years. It became a longstanding bad habit. Last year, a visit to the dentist revealed that I had a few dental caries (i.e. decays) in my molars. It made me realize the importance of cleaning my teeth every day, and thereafter helped me cultivate the habit of good oral care.

I’ve put together this guide with the quintessential steps to achieve healthy gums (and also healthy teeth). Obviously, I’m no dentist or periodontic expert, just someone who has successfully improved her oral hygiene, and wants to share what I have picked up. If anything, this guide is meant as a reminder of what we should be doing for better oral hygiene, but may not be doing yet.

If you have poor teeth or gum condition, don’t expect your dentist to solve your problem for you, because he/she wouldn’t be able to provide a magic pill that can fix your oral problems. Chances are he/she are going to tell you the same stuff which I’m going to share next. It all boils down to you reading this guide and following the steps.

Good luck, and let me know how the tips work for you!

#1. Use a good toothbrush

Go for a toothbrush with soft and round bristles, so that it does not hurt your gums while you are brushing it. It really makes a difference. I’ve tried brushing with a soft toothbrush and a hard toothbrush before – The former feels gentle to touch, while the latter feels like you’re poking your gums with a sharp object. The soft one is definitely the way to go.

Secondly, use the ones with crisscross bristles. They help to reach tiny creases and remove elusive plaque that’s stuck in between your teeth. They also help to brush away plaque that’s stubbornly stuck on your teeth, since there is a larger surface area of contact.

Crisscross Toothbrush
(Image: Hybrid Medical Animation)

A good toothbrush may cost more than regular ones, but considering you use it at least twice a day, invest in a good quality one . It’s just a few dollars more expensive anyway – no point scrimping on daily essentials that can make a big difference.

Perhaps you are wondering: How about electric toothbrushes? To be honest, I’m neutral about them. I suppose they are good if you are lazy, but I find the batteries run out really fast (like, less than a month). Not exactly environmentally friendly if you ask me. With proper brushing technique (see below), a good, regular toothbrush can clean your teeth as well as an electric one.

#2. Floss – Every day

Flossing is one of the tasks we will be working on in the third week of Live a Healthier Life in 21 Days (21DHL). :D Yes I know – flossing is boring and a pain in the *ss, but it’s important! I used to hate flossing and never did it in the past, but I’ve finally accepted it as part of my daily routine now, along with brushing my teeth.

I think what made the mental shift was when I consistently saw the amount of plaque and food debris I would dislodge as a result of flossing – despite having brushed my teeth earlier. It made me realize flossing does make a big difference – it serves a unique function that brushing is unable to fulfill. If I don’t floss, I would be going to sleep with little food pieces stuck between my teeth, which then serve as nests for bacteria to gather. Definitely not something I want happen.

I like this joke which PE reader, Charles (ozcaveman on Personal Excellence Forums), shared with us during last year’s run of 21DHL. He asked his dentist which teeth he should floss, of which his dentist replied with a tongue-in-cheek comment: “Only floss the teeth you want to keep!” Makes you realize how important flossing is, especially if dentists harp on it all the time!

Here’s a short 1:54 minute video on how to floss your teeth properly:

#3. Brush at least twice a day

Do you brush your teeth at least twice a day? Once after you wake up, and once before you sleep?

Most of us know we should, but we don’t. We opt for the lazy path, going to bed without brushing our teeth. While it’s convenient, doing this for a prolonged period is only going to bite us in the future.

(For more on breaking bad habits, read: How To Break Recurring Patterns in Life, exclusive article in Personal Excellence Book, Volume 2)

Some hard core hygienists clean their teeth right after every meal. Personally, I think that’s very admirable. Though it’s not something I do currently because I usually go for multiple small meals vs. several large meals (which makes cleaning my teeth every time I eat too much of a hassle), it is a standard I aspire to achieve in the future. Perhaps I may consider adjusting the frequency of my meals in the future to make this more feasible.

#4. Use a mouthwash

Mouthwash has its unique role in oral hygiene, because our teeth makes up only 25% of our mouth. There is also our tongue, area near our throat, our palate (roof of our mouth), and our gums, which are neglected during brushing. You want to eliminate bacteria in your mouth, so that plaque cannot form, since plaque is the building block of many oral diseases.

I know there are a lot of commercial mouthwash brands out there, and I’m personally not informed enough about these products to make a recommendation for nor against them. There are a lot of controversies about some of the ingredients that can be found in these mouthwashes, such as fluoride (a common ingredient in toothpastes, which helps prevent tooth decay) and alcohol (which has been said to potentially increase the risk of oral cancer).

While it remains open on whether mouthwashes with such ingredients are beneficial or detrimental for us, my point of recommending a mouthwash is to let you know that (a) simply brushing and flossing alone is insufficient in oral care, since that only cleans about 25% of our mouth (b) and as such, you need to consider a solution to cleanse your mouth and teeth – be it a commercial mouthwash with said ingredients or an alternative mouthwash, such as a salt mouthwash or herbal mouthwash. Mouthwash doesn’t automatically mean a solution that contains fluoride and/or alcohol, so take note of the distinction.

As to which mouthwash you should use, I recommend you to do your due research before making your choice. Here’s a simple fact sheet provided by Oral Care and Health Daily, which shares common mouthwash ingredients and popular benefits linked to them.

Help prevent cavities? Fluoride. Its ability to prevent tooth decay is well-established.
Fight gum disease? Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) or chlorhexidine gluconate. Recent research has shown these ingredients help prevent gingivitis and dental plaque.
Moisten your mouth? Carboxymethylcellulose or hydroxyethylcellulose, both of which simulate natural saliva. Bonus points if the rinse also contains fluoride, since dry mouth contributes to cavities.
Soothe canker sores or mouth abrasions? Hydrogen peroxide. It’s a safe bet because it’s antimicrobial without being overly abrasive.
Freshen your breath? Methyl salicylate and chlorhexidine gluconate. These antiseptics help fight the bacteria that contribute to bad breath. Additional herbs, scents and flavorings help mask odor.

#5. Get braces if you need them

Braces are orthodontic tools to straighten your teeth, such that you have a correct bite and have an easier task cleaning your teeth from there on. It’s commonly used to address “crowding” or crookedness of teeth, an issue that arises when one’s mouth is small and cannot accommodate the full set of teeth. It is also used to address overbites, underbites and crossbites.

I wore braces when I was 19-21. My main issue was crowding of my teeth, both in my lower and upper sets of teeth. As part of my orthodontic treatment, I had to remove 4 teeth, not including my 2 lower wisdom teeth which I had removed when I was 18.

While it was troublesome due to the regular dental checkups, frequency in which food would get dislodged (in my braces) and difficulty in cleaning my teeth, these only lasted during the time I had my braces, which was about 1 year and 9 months. The long-term rewards definitely more than made up for the short-term hassles, which are just a figment of my memory now.

What are the benefits? Firstly, with straightened teeth, it was easier for me to clean them. That’s less time spent brushing and flossing every day. Secondly, straighter teeth meant a nicer look, which made me more confident about my smile. :D Thirdly, the effects are long-term. As long as you wear your retainers regularly (every night if you can), your teeth will remain straight. I only wear my retainers once every 1-2 months now (though I should wear it more regularly), and my teeth are still very straight.

If you are contemplating whether to get braces or not, think about it this way – The sooner you wear them, the faster you can take them off! This was what sealed the deal for me. Also, there are many braces options now, from the traditional metal braces, to ceramic, clear braces (which are tooth-colored and hence less visible), to colored braces (which makes wearing braces a fun and fashionable experience), to lingual braces (where the braces are bonded to the back of your teeth, hence making them invisible), to even removable ones! (Invisalign).

#6. Avoid soft drinks

Soft drinks have a load of sugar, which makes it easy for plaque to form, which in turn contributes to gingivitis (gum disease). They are also highly acidic, eroding your tooth enamel bit by bit every time you drink them. Not only that, they are unhealthy with tons of chemicals, and contribute to weight gain. Seriously, need I say more?

I stopped drinking soft drinks years ago and I’m glad I stopped when I did. They are basically sugared water that has zero value. I’ve never looked back since.

Read: 5 Reasons To Quit Drinking Soda Drinks (And How To Do It)

#7. Don’t smoke

Smoking has consistently been linked with gum disease and oral diseases. I’ve met a few smokers before, and they always have yellow teeth and eroded gums. Not a pleasant sight. Not to mention they usually have bad breath too.

From American Academy of Periodontology:

How does smoking increase your risk for periodontal disease? As a smoker, you are more likely than nonsmokers to have the following problems:

  • Calculus – plaque that hardens on your teeth and can only be removed during a professional cleaning
  • Deep pockets between your teeth and gums
  • Loss of the bone and tissue that support your teeth

If the calculus is not removed during a professional cleaning, and it remains below your gum line, the bacteria in the calculus can destroy your gum tissue and cause your gums to pull away from your teeth. When this happens, periodontal pockets form and fill with disease-causing bacteria.

If left untreated, periodontal disease will progress. The pockets between your teeth and gums can grow deeper, allowing in more bacteria that destroy tissue and supporting bone. As a result, the gums may shrink away from the teeth making them look longer. Without treatment, your teeth may become loose, painful and even fall out.

Bottom line? Don’t smoke, unless you relish the idea of having yellow teeth and receding gums.

#8. Brush using the right technique

It’s one thing to brush your teeth diligently every day. It’s another thing to brush it with the right technique, such that your plaque gets eradicated.

Here’s a simple video on how to brush your teeth:

#9. Destroy all bacteria “nests”

This is probably the most important oral care tip I’ve ever picked up.

For many years, I had unhealthy gums. By unhealthy, I mean gums that are slightly reddish, swollen, and that bleed when I brush too hard. My gumline was always brighter and redder in color than the rest of my gums, which would be a healthy pink.

Not only that, it was receding *very*, *very* slowly over the years. Not good, especially if I want my teeth to be intact when I’m 60, 80, or even 100!

When I went to the dentist, I discovered I had a mild case of gingivitis, which is the inflammation of gums. It is estimated that more than 75% of the population experiences gingivitis on some level (Source). From US National Library of Medicine:

Gingivitis is a form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease involves inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the periodontal ligaments, and the tooth sockets (alveolar bone).

The thing though, was that my gums remained inflamed even though I began to brush my teeth diligently and use the mouthwash regularly. I was somewhat expecting to be stuck with unhealthy gums, only because I had them for so long and didn’t think they were reversible.

My friend, a dentistry student, then told me it was due to an incorrect brushing technique, and taught me this tip. I tried it with a dose of skepticism, and was pleasantly surprised when my longstanding gum inflammation issue resolved itself after one to two weeks! For the first time, I have fully pink gums, vs. semi-pink and red gums with a reddish gumline.

Here’s how it works. Look at the area between your tooth and your gum, i.e. your gumline. This is a hot spot where bacteria gathers (my dentist friend analogizes this to ant nests). You want to destroy these nests every time you brush, because if you don’t do it, it will give rise to plaque, which then becomes dental calculus, which is rock-hard and extremely difficult to remove.

So when brushing, pay special attention to this area. What I found helpful is to (a) angle your toothbrush at 45 degrees against the area (b) make very quick, rapid motions, which helps to “break” the nests (c) repeat two to three times per tooth until it feels clean and non-sticky to touch.

#10. Use plaque locator products

Sometimes you may have brushed, flossed, and used the mouthwash, and still have plaque embedded somewhere – because you missed out on a blind spot.

But there’s no way you’d know, especially since plaque is transparent. And waiting till you get cavities from plaque that is built-up over weeks, even months, is not exactly a solution. This is where plaque locator tablets come in.

If you don’t know what they are, they are pink tablets which help uncover the plaque in your mouth by coloring them pink after you chew them. See picture below:

Plaque locator tablets at work*Areas colored pink means there is plaque. The deeper the pink, the more plaque there is. (Image: Total Teeth Care)

This way, you know the areas you missed, so you can return to clean them up. Once you remove the plaque, the stain will be gone. And the next time you brush, pay special attention to these areas, so you get everything covered.

IMO, plaque locator tablets is one of the best inventions in the realm of oral care. I used to think I do a good job cleaning my teeth, until I tried the tablets and saw a good area of my teeth colored pink! They were typically along the gumline (where it’s easiest for plaque to build up) and the creases between my teeth. Knowing what a poor job I was doing cleaning my teeth made me more diligent in my oral hygiene.

There have since been numerous plaque locator products in the market, from plaque locator swabs, to plaque locator solutions, to even plaque locator floss! You should be able to buy them in pharmacies, drugstores or dental clinics.

#11. Go for a dental checkup once every 6 months

It’s always good to go for a dental checkup once every 6 months, because then you can fix any issues with your teeth or gums before it’s too late. It’s also a good chance to get your teeth scaled and polished, which makes it harder for plaque to form, hence making it easier for you to maintain your oral hygiene.

My last visit to the dentist was May 2011 (before I started traveling), and I’ll be planning for a checkup when I get back home later this year. I have an impacted molar which needs root canal treatment, and one upper wisdom tooth which I would like to remove, so I’m going to get them done soon.

Update Mar 28 ’13: I’ve since removed both my upper wisdom teeth and done my root canal treatment. Read more: What I Learned From My First Root Canal Treatment (and Having the Insides of My Tooth “Swooshed” Out)

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] The Guide To Healthier Gums and Teeth

This is part of the Cultivate Good Habits Series. Be sure to check out the full series:

  1. 21 Days To Cultivate Life Transforming Habits
  2. 21-Day Lifestyle Revamp Program
  3. 14 Tips To Successfully Cultivate New Habits (exclusive article in Personal Excellence Book, Volume 2)
  4. Waking Early21 Tips To Wake Up Early
  5. Quitting Soda5 Reasons To Quit Drinking Soda (& How To Do It)
  6. Improve Your PostureBenefits Of A Good Posture (& 13 Tips To Do It)
  7. Be TV-Free: 10 Reasons You Should Stop Watching TV
  8. Being On Time17 Tips To Be On Time
  9. Meditation10 Reasons You Should Meditate | How To Meditate in 5 Simple Steps
  10. Manage Emails Effectively11 Simple Tips To Effective Email Management
  11. Run Barefoot: 10 Reasons You Should Start Running Barefoot
  12. Weight Loss: 25 Of My Best Weight Loss Tips
  13. Emotional EatingHow To Stop Emotional Eating (6-part series)
  14. Better Oral CareHow To Attain Healthier Gums and Teeth – A Simple but Important Guide
  • Carmen

    Thanks for this post, it is an excellent one. I too have been flossing my teeth daily along with using mouthwash and using a good toothbrush. I did want to point out though that the cost of dental work in the US is VERY expensive including for basic items like teeth cleaning. Especially if you don’t have insurance. However, if you floss, rinse & brush your teeth daily (especially after eating) the health benefits are tremendous in the long run. Bleeding gums for example can be an indicator of heart disease. Thanks again for your post, very informative.

  • cloudio

    This couldn’t be more timely for me.

    I went to the dentist yesterday to fill a carie and found out I had 7!!!

    It was 4 years I wasn’t visiting a dentist and while I regularly brush my teeth at least twice a day, what screwed me up was using for 1 year the electric tootbrsuh, which I never learned to and last year I switched back to manual.

    The dentist recommend me not using electric and stressed me the importance of flossing too, and yesterday I did it for the first time.

    I can confirm that even the same day I went to the dentist, after your meal and brushing your teeth it’s impressive the amount of plaque and fod debris that stuck in your mouth.

    • Celes

      Hey cloudio, I’m sorry to hear about your caries! But at the same time, it’s good that you discovered about them now, so you can take necessary action. Better late than never, honestly! And congratulations on your debut flossing attempt – this will be the first of many, many more to come. :D And it honestly gets easier and easier, to the point where it becomes second nature (it is for me now).

  • Gregory Roderique Roberts

    I love flossing. More than once per day if I eat anything that tends to get stuck between the teeth. Had too much honey in the past. I am bad because I tend to brush once per day but I do have mouthwash and I’m forever having bicarbonate of soda with water. I hate dentists.

    • Celes

      Don’t hate dentists – they are there to help you achieve your best dental health! They are the messenger, not the message. I don’t relish the idea of having drills in my mouth (such as when I had my lower wisdom teeth removed – they were impacted and thus involved drilling/etc in removing them), but I’m truly glad I have the dentists take care of such problems for me.

  • Prion

    Studies show that fluoride can be deleterious (bad) in the long run for both your brain AND teeth.

    I strongly urge you to read these!

    I used to have some oral problems (yellowing, plaque, bad breath, bleeding of the gums) when I used normal fluoride toothpastes. But that changed when I switched to herbal ayurvedic remedies and oral care (used in India for thousands of years).

    No, I’m not personally affiliated with this company, just a customer.

    • Prion

      Look at ALL the evidence, both for and against fluoride, before you support it. Some allege that we got fluoride form the Germans. Look at fluorosis.

    • Celes

      Thanks for sharing the studies, Prion! Definitely something to chew on. I haven’t had any problem with normal fluoride toothpastes, so I can’t comment on them. But I have found commercial mouthwashes somewhat harsh for my gums. The ones by Listerine, especially, seem quite drying – possibly because of the high alcohol content? I’ll be interested to try out some of the alternative mouthwashes, like salt water (as reader Caitlin suggested) or quite possibly herbal mouthwashes.

      • Prion

        Ok, thanks. Good pun anyway. I neglected to say that I enjoy your blog, and thanks for the article. I need to learn better methods of brushing. So, I have been applying some of these steps. I have found that water piks are extremely helpful for cleansing out dislodged food particles. Thanks, Celes!

        • Celes

          No problem – I’m glad you enjoy the blog, Prion! :D Please keep reading and keep sharing your thoughts openly – they are much appreciated.

          • Prion

            I really loved the post on 100 tips to enjoy your life or something like that. I need to look it up. :) ;)

  • Caitlin

    I had terrible, inflamed, and super painful gums a few years ago, when I would often go to bed without brushing and flossing and was a smoker. It finally all came to the point where I was in so much pain, I had to go to the dentist.
    At the dentist, they said I had an infection and inflamed gums, and lots of gum erosion in at least one area. They told me I could lose a tooth if things did not change, and wanted me to see a peridontist (super expensive as I was uninsured at the time). You can bet this scared the sh– out of me!
    I remember they did a deep cleaning (so not fun) and really stressed the importance of flossing. Every day. The dentist also said not to use mouthwash, as it killed too much of the good bacteria that lives in our mouths, but to rinse with salt water.
    It took a while for me to get in the habit of flossing EVERY night, and I had to make some other Life adjustments to do so: I quit drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes and it has been so worth it! Now it feels weird not to floss, and last time I went to the dentist, my hygenist and dentist were both very impressed by the difference in my gums.
    I do sometimes use an in store mouthwash, but for my situation at the time the salt water was best. If you do not have a mouthwash, just swish and gargle a bit of salt water! It is cheaper, and more gentle.
    Taking care of your dental health is so important to all-over health! Make time to take care of your teeth, gums, and mouth. It is soooo Worth It!

    • Celes

      Caitlin, thanks for the suggestion on salt water! I might well use it as my mouthwash, because I find some of the commercial products too drying. As much as they may be riding my mouth of bacteria, it stings too much and is too drying for me to use twice-daily. Do you have any recommendations on how much salt to use?

      • Caitlin

        Sorry I am just now getting back to you… I would do about a tsp. per cup o’ warm water, but you can do less if that is too strong. Or less if you feel that it is also too drying! Just use trial and error to find your preference. :)

  • J

    NIce! I especially dug the nest-destroying brushing technique and learning about the plaque locator products :)

    • Celes

      Thanks J! Glad you found them useful. :D

  • Danny the Dentist

    Bull! MouthWASH is a scam. filling your mouth with alcohol is NOT good for your health. ANOTHER bs internet post that has no truth.

    • Celes

      Danny – Nowhere in this article have I made a personal recommendation for fluoride. Please read properly before you make your comments. The part of the article which mentions fluoride is cited from an editorial content (Oral Care & Health Daily, as quoted in the article), and even then it is not a exact recommendation for fluoride, as much as it’s a citation of one of its common benefits (to help prevent tooth decay).

      For the record, to J and others reading this – Regarding fluoride, I neither recommend for it nor against it, as I have not done any elaborate research on this ingredient specifically to have an opinion on it. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are studies against this ingredient, just as how there are studies against a zillion other things in the society today, such as meat-based diet, veganism, vegetarianism, vaccinations, high-fructose corn syrup, cacao powder, microwaved food, etc. I trust all my readers read the sources I share in my articles and do their appropriate research in making their decisions. This is something I have always stressed on – To read everything (including material on this site) consciously, think/judge for themselves, and apply their best judgment in any decisions.

      Danny, it would be a lot more helpful to me and the other readers if you can share some constructive articles or studies backing up what you’re saying, like what J and Prion have done, rather than jumping at what was written and throwing frivolous words like “Bull”, “scam”, “Another bs internet post”, “no truth”, etc. Your rudeness has been more detrimental than helpful in establishing your point. Adding a suffix of “the Dentist” behind your name does not make your statement anymore of an opinion than others either. If you have nothing helpful to say, then please refrain from commenting. Thank you. ;)

    • Danny the Dentist

      And to say fluoride is good for you just shows how little you know about anything. Fluoride is a POISON!!! And your blog is about excellence, lol. you are a joke my friend.

      • Celes

        Firstly, I’m sorry but I’m not your friend. Secondly, I think the joke is on you. Fluoride has been long proven for its benefits to prevent tooth decay: (FYI – I’m neither a fluoride advocate nor opposer, as I have stated in my article.)

        Fine if you think that fluoride is bad, but back up what you’re saying with studies, citations and facts. In cases like these where we are discussing about technicalities, studies are more helpful in forwarding the discussion than wild, blanket accusations. I have no interest in turning the comments section into an opinion-war. Any further comments which illustrate an inability to conform to the desired commenting etiquette on this site will be promptly deleted. Thank you. :love: :D

    • J

      Yeah, a bit more politeness may have helped Danny the Dentist’s cause. Danny, I avoid fluoride myself — and am adamantly opposed to forcing it on a populace via its water supply — but to be fair to Celes, this is a personal development site (vs. something more technical or medical), and the US CDC cites an established body of evidence failing to clearly link low levels of water flouride with obvious problems, at least. Of course, there’s also evidence to the contrary, and many countries (except English-speaking holdouts) no longer add it to their water. Good for them. We should follow suit.

      Toothpaste and mouthwash may have lower (or higher?) ingestion rates than actually drinking tap water… I dunno

  • Tony Cuckson

    This is timely and very important material. Good teeth and gums are essential to good health. I had a regular dental checkup but missed for a year. In that time I got fairly serious gum disease which was treated in time and I am very well. If you gums bleed easily then have it checked out. Get a regular dental checkup and more important use mouthwash and flossing. :D

  • yinkadepeju

    Celes thanks for this posting you are really doing a great job and I pray that God will continue to grant you more wisdom the post is a great one reading through it looked as if you had me in mind when you are about to write. In my case I have never visited a dentist I used to be scared but now. I have seen the advantages and just today I realise I had to take my son toa dentist looking closely at his teeth I saw that at the frontal part 4 tooth are are growing in place of two For me I only brush once. I never flosh for once. And for things like hydrogen peroxide I thougth are poisonous I don’t know that I can use it to wash my mouth now I know what a good way to start the year. Health is Wealth

    • Celes

      Aw thanks for your comment, yinkadepeju. I hope you get started on new habits of brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing then. They are definitely essential to achieving better oral hygiene. Think about the pearly whites you will have due to your diligence in caring for your teeth. :mrgreen:

  • Bette

    Celes, love the concern, sharing your experience, and all the helpful information you access and put out there!

    I have been through the mill with mouth issues…gum disease led me to daily proper mouth care. Those who can avoid having the domino effect of neglecting tooth and mouth care would be so fortunate. At this point, after wearing metal braces for years when I was in H.S., and losing a tooth due to the orthodontist overlooking a problem area I had with a tooth under the metal… imagine THAT unhappy surprise….I have had a permanent bridge that requires floss threaders to use floss and get that important necessary daily task done. Besides, later on down the road oh, 40 some years…I lost ANOTHER tooth RIGHT NEXT to the bridge, which required having ANOTHER bridge to repace the original one….all this at GREAT personal expense, on many different levels.

    You know, we all know the thing about hindsight. WELL, I am the hindsight coming here to share this stuff as a wake-up call, possibly, that people can hear from another person who has, throughout life had pretty much regular dental check-ups, and brushed, mainly, until I hit thirty something…

    It was then that I became more conscientious about oral care, and flossed and did better brushing, even using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide whenever I felt like I needed a more intense cleaning. Sometimes I would use only that to clean, long ago avoiding sweetened icky (to me at least) so called toothpastes, and using the healthy ones. I STILL ran into troubles with my gums, some of it was genetic, I believe, but that, with my complacency and intermittent negligence, I had gum surgery…(actually TWICE in my life).

    if you can keep away from being at the point where having periodondists/dentists recommend gum surgery, do yourself a great favor and take good care of your health and mouth/teeth! It is amazing how many people I know and know of who have dentures as a result of unhealthy eating habits, smoking, neglect, complacency, drinking sodas.

    Teeth that looked fine, but the health/gums/bone was so unhealthy, the tooth had nowhere to root down! Sometimes. there is such bone loss, even a titanium post has no where to be positioned for a crown. Then there are bone injections to build up the place for dental work. All of this verry much a process to see what works, and very costly. Very sad.

    I was a stubborn case and have paid heavy consequences for complacency and neglect in my self-care…hope you won’t have to! I am sooo grateful to still have almost all of my teeth, and it is worth whatever it takes to take care of them in order to keep them!

    Today I am verry conscientious with my eating habits, and mouth/tooth care. I floss after each time I eat, with little exception. I use a natural ginger toothpaste, and sometimes baking soda and peroxide. I visit the dentist about 3x per year. My main beverage is good water, and I drink about 3 or 4 quarts of it every day. I think having the right amount of just plain water that your body requires, is soo basic in one having good health across the board.

    Celes, I am going to try those plague indicators just to see for myself how I am doing with my oral care. And slow down with my brushing and be more mindful of the 45 degree angle brushing. Thank you for all your tips and all the good you put out there to help others in so many ways.

    Happy brushing/flossing everyone! ! ! :clap: Keep your teeth! :!: ;) :dance:


    • Celes

      Dearest Bette, thanks for sharing your story so openly with everyone. I hope everyone takes heed what you have to say and start putting effort in their oral care, if they haven’t already. It’s easy to neglect caring for our teeth; it’s not quite as easy to get our teeth/gums restored after they get damaged. Sometimes it may not even be reversible too! (For example with the decay in my lower back molar which occurred when I was young – it has caused so much sensitivity and annoyance through the years, and it’s quite apparent that there’s nothing much I can do about it now than get a root canal treatment.)

      Let us all exhibit the same rigor in our oral care as we do to our career/work/relationships. After all, this is a part of caring for ourselves.

  • Hiten

    Good post. I used to be a bit lazy when the old choppers were concerned. But once I got in the habit of twice day brushing, daily flossing and mouthwash it just turned into a daily routine. I wouldn’t consider my teeth clean unless I brushed them twice a day these days.

  • Daniel L. Pelzl

    What is the dye in the disclosing tablets? What would happen if everyone of us 8 billion persons had a semi annual check up? Assuming a half hour for a cleaning, we would need about 3 million hygienists
    working 300 days a year for 8 hours a day. I’m not sure the average hygienist does 5400 cleanings a year. I need to check on the correct number. I’m all for it. It would also be helpful to have a front surface mirror and small halogen lamp to observe good practice along with a DVD for training purposes. All of this could be funded by working adults at a small fraction of our outlay for war. A baby war on bacteria. Let each dentist be assigned the number of patients for whom he had hygienists. Special provisions for persons who travel make life more fun. I can not think of a happier way to exercise our free enterprise. Free the excess bacteria from where they are not welcome. They like the same food we do.

  • Russell Columbo

    I recently heard about this alternative dentists DVD that talks about herbal tooth solutions. I’m skeptical of that because I’ve never even tried anything remotely like it. But, it definitely interests me…does any one know of any good alternative tooth practices (no-fluoride, for instance) or likewise resources? I think this is the DVD I heard about:

    Love your site Celeste, been reading for about a year now. Glad to see you touch on health issues, too. So much of it comes with a peaceful state of mind though :angel:


    • Celes

      Thanks Russell for reading the site the past year. :D I appreciate your support. Caitlin above recommended rinsing with a salt water solution, so you can consider trying that. It sounds like a good alternative to a commercial mouthwash.

  • JadePenguin

    Woot! Great addition to January’s healthy challenge and something I’ve been pondering about as well! (Will the next health-related article be about hair? If my clairvoyance skills haven’t rusted yet :D)

    I guess I got no choice than to try flossing again. I did for a short time years ago but it was sooooooooo annoying and uncomfortable (sometimes slightly painful). Could also try mouthwash but there’s so much controversy surrounding those…

    One question though – what about tongue cleaning? Wikipedia mentions it helps against most cases of bad breath and I’ve heard it from other sources as well.

    • Celes

      Hair is a tricky one! Only because hair (loss) is usually a symptom to other issues (same as stress), so a hair guide isn’t going to have much insight (unless it’s a guide on how to care for hair vs. tackling hair loss). I was actually thinking of having an acne guide, but that might be a bigger topic than I can cover since acne can be caused by so many things.

      On tongue cleaning, I don’t do it. I suppose it has its benefits, but I find it redundant as my tongue is quite clean to begin with. One of my dentist friends suggested using a toothbrush with a bit of toothpaste as a tongue cleaning tool, vs. a tongue cleaner which can be potentially damaging. Do you use a tongue cleaner, and if so how do you find it?

      • JadePenguin

        Haven’t tried, so I cannot comment. I’ll try doing it with the toothbrush and see if that works.

        Also, what about chewing gum after meals? My dentist approved but I haven’t really done any research. I simply like it due to the freshness and the cleaning effect. I do get rid of it after 5-10 minutes.

  • jalisa1102

    my mom will never ever take me to the denist i have some teeth problems like crooked teeth yeallow teeth and sometimes tooth pains and sometimes when i dont brush my teeth they feel weired if i have any tooth problems and i tell my mom she will say ecaxt words (you should have brushed your teeth o well to bad for you sao i can never go to the dentist im only to im afraid of loseing my teeth and my mom does not bie me anything beacause im very poor :( so please help please and is it normal 4 teeth to fell slight ly loose cause my 2 front teeth did but my sis checked them and said they were perfectly fine i thinck i was just paranoid but even if it was loose is it normal and sometimes i always brush my teeth and a couple mins after they start to smeell HELP and help causes need a answer to my problems asap my email is

  • hannah leon

    Flossing can give your smile a new vigor; there is no chance of cavity if flossing is inclusive in your habits. Visit your dentist in Winnipeg regularly, because it is yourdentist who knows your teeth better than you. He can suggest you precautions and if required he can also prescribe you some medications.

  • appy

    Thanks for sharing this tips! it will be of a great help! i usually go to a Dental Clinic in Coburg for all my dental care. The above tips will help me in between my general dental check ups.

  • ysa

    Is it normal for gums to bleed when having braces? I accidentally brushed my teeth hard and my gums started bleeding. I have braces.

    • Celestine Chua

      Gums bleeding is a sign of weak/unhealthy gums, so best is to step up on oral care. Especially if you are wearing braces (I’ve worn braces before), because food gets stuck much easily than without. Be sure to floss and brush your teeth every night, and if possible do a rinse (and even floss) after each big meal).

  • Kanza

    Hi I’m 19 and I just realized that I need to have better oral hygiene. My teeth are very yellow, though I don’t smoke, and I was wondering whether I can make them whiter if I brush/floss/use mouthwash every day. They are a dark yellow colour, I asked my dentist whether I should bleach them but he said that bleaching is not good for me in the long term. I’m also in university so I cant afford those teeth whitening products.

    • Celestine Chua

      Do you know why your teeth are yellow? Is it from drinking coffee/tea, etc.? It doesn’t seem usual that they’ll be dark yellow if they weren’t before (you didn’t mention if it’s due to genetics, if the teeth have always been like that, etc.).

      Generally my experience is that using a tooth whitening toothpaste does help my teeth to be brighter, though I don’t really use it much these days (I just prefer a more gentle toothpaste and I think tooth whitening ones can be quite harsh). There are also the off-the-counter affordable whitening products like crest whitestrips which seem to have received positive reviews, though I can’t comment about them. I’m no dentist, so it’s best to ask for your dentist for a recommendation. I agree that bleaching isn’t really good as they create a lot of side effects like sensitive gums etc. (I’ve consulted various dentists on this over the years and they all say the same thing).

      • Kanza

        Oh sorry! I did not mention that I think they are stains. Three years ago, I started drinking excessive amounts of green tea and since then, my teeth have been yellow even though I stopped after a year. I don’t think it’s genetics because my siblings have white teeth. I honestly was looking for a natural remedy to whiten my teeth. I can try the whitening toothpastes. However, the whitening strips make my teeth white temporarily.
        By the way, thank you for the reply. It means a lot to me. You’re as good as my dentist- he said the same things to me!

        • Celestine Chua

          Hey Kanza! Yes that’s right, the whitening strips can make them white temporary — but that’d only be because if you introduce new agents that “yellow” the teeth, for example, drinking curry, drinking colored drinks (coffee, coke, colored soda drinks, even healthier drinks like ice lemon tea will color the teeth too), and so on. If you want “permanent” solutions, usually it involves a change in lifestyle too like cutting down certain colored food/drinks (stopping excessive green tea consumption is one!). The whitening products like strips and toothpaste will help to whiten the teeth initially and the lifestyle afterwards will determine if they stay white.

          It’s my pleasure, and I hope you find your whitening solution soon! :)