Six Months to Save My Teeth

Oh dear. It's not only how I look that needs an overhaul now I've hit 40! Only a short time after congratulating myself on my teeth, a routine visit to my dentist has resulted in an ultimatum: take better care of my teeth or face the consequences, i.e. pain, multiple gum line fillings and gum disease.

We all want to have good healthy teeth, but how many of us put much effort into looking after them? I have to admit that I've always been lazy when it comes to tooth care. I brush twice a day, and that's it. I don't use mouthwash, and I don't floss (I have flossing thread and floss sticks in the bathroom drawer, but I almost never use them - except for the night before a dental appointment!).

Despite years - nay, decades! - of neglect, my teeth have always been fine. I have a dental check-up and a session with the hygienist at least once a year, and there has rarely been any issue - I've had very little 'work' done over the years.

Well, it seems that my luck has run out. With the evidence there for my dentist to see, there seemed little point in pretending. So I owned up and admitted that I don't floss. "Most people don't," he replied. "But if you want your teeth to remain healthy, then you have to do it."

The good news is that the deterioration of tooth enamel can be stopped... and even reversed.

Here, then, is what I've been told to do between now and my next check-up in 6 months' time:
  • Floss at least every other day, but preferably daily
  • Use a non-alcoholic fluoride mouthwash every day (ideally about 20 minutes after brushing, as the toothpaste can counteract the effectiveness of the rinse)
  • Brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day - and when practical after every meal/snack
  • Consider using a good quality electric toothbrush
  • Consider using a Waterpic water flosser (my husband uses this and swears by it - and so does our dentist!)
Dental care essentialsClockwise from top left: Colgate Alcohol Free FluoriGard Rinse; Oral-B Superfloss; Oral-B Electric Toothbrush; Waterpik Water Flosser; Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste

Now, fluoride is a controversial subject that you may want to research for yourself. However, my dentist is adamant that fluoride mouthwash and toothpaste are beneficial for dental health. "People claim it's carcinogenic", he said, "but the risk is minute and the oral hygiene benefits are enormous."

So, six months to save my teeth.

Yes, flossing is a bore, and mouthwash doesn't taste that great, but if this doesn't motivate me, nothing will!

How about you?
Do you floss? How to you look after your teeth?
Let me know in the comments below.

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