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The most common way to clean between your teeth is with dental floss or tape.  Flossing removes food particles from between your teeth that your toothbrush cannot reach.  The purpose of both brushing and flossing is to reduce the number of bacteria which inhabit our mouths.  These are key components to any good oral hygiene program, and will ensure that plaque and the bacteria they contain are removed.  Bacteria release acids which cause cavities in tooth enamel, and also instigate bad breath. Plaque that is left in between your teeth hardens into tartar, which requires a dentist's tools for removal.  Tartar can lead to the gums becoming inflamed, a condition known as gingivitis.  This can in turn lead to periodontal disease - a condition where bacteria infect the bones and the structures supporting the teeth.  If bacteria from the mouth get into the blood stream they can cause blood clots and heart disease.  People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease as those without gum disease.

If you are suffering from the following symptoms, you may be developing gum disease:
  • Inflamed or bleeding gums
  • an unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • bad breath
  • loose teeth
  • regular mouth infections

Oral hygiene

Oral hygiene is important to help reduce the likelihood of gum disease and dental decay.

Follow these simple steps for healthy teeth:

  • Floss daily
  • Clean your teeth at least twice a day, after meals and before bed
  • Brush gently and thoroughly with a toothpaste and soft toothbrush
  • Use a low fluoride toothpaste for children from 18 month to 6 years of age
  • Clean dentures thoroughly every day
  • Have regular dental check-ups - children generally need to see a dentist every three to 12 months, with adults between three and 24 months.

The correct way to floss

Many people prefer tape to floss, as it is wider and is less likely to cut into the gums. There are several different types of floss or tape, including mint-flavoured, waxed and fluoride varieties.  Natural options include beeswax, jojoba and myrrh coated floss/tape, which are gentle on the gums.

Hold a decent length with it tightly wrapped around and locked onto the middle finger of each hand.  You should floss using a gentle sawing motion, against the sides of your teeth. There are also flossing aids on the market.
Natural ways to a fresher breath

Drinking plenty of water will help to keep the mouth moist and the body properly hydrated.  Gargling with salt water will also help to clean out bacteria, mucus, and food particles in the back of the throat that may be causing bad breath.  Tea, particularly the polyphenols in green and black tea, help to stop the growth of bacteria responsible for bad breath.

A selection of herbs and foods are also effective in fighting bacteria and bad breath:

  • Alfalfa
  • Anise
  • Chlorophyll
  • Cloves
  • Hazelnuts
  • Herbs - sage, parsley, mint, and basil will help to mitigate bad breath
  • Lemon
  • Sage

If you are concerned about your breath, dental or oral hygiene see your dentist as soon as possible.

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