By: Helen Bradford
The night is for resting and gathering strength for another challenging day (unless you’re a stressed-out student finishing a paper), but that’s not all. At night, our bodies really do rest, but the bacteria in our mouth don’t. The bacteria continue to build up during the night and gather on your teeth which can result in severe dental problems such as cavities and gingivitis. The good news is – you can easily prevent this from happening by adopting some healthy nighttime habits which will significantly improve your oral health.
Rinse your mouth
We use mouthwash when we want to have fresh breath, but mouthwash shouldn’t only be used before you leave the house. Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash before going to bed will help reduce the plaque-forming bacteria that form on your teeth while you sleep. Not only will this help protect your teeth from cavities and decay, but it will also protect your gums from gingivitis. In addition to this, rinsing will allow you to get rid of any food particles that might have been stuck at the back of your throat. Still, remember that mouth rinse should be used with brushing and flossing otherwise it’s not as effective.
Cleanse your tongue
It’s very easy for bacteria to ‘hide’ on your tongue, which is why you should clean it thoroughly every day before going to bed. You can do this using your toothbrush – simply place a bit of toothpaste on it and use circular movements to brush your tongue. Be careful not to gag while doing this, and rinse your mouth afterwards. You can also use other convenient oral care products such as floss and tongue scrapers as these are both effective. With scrapers, you simply take both ends in each hand and scrape the surface of your tongue with the middle. It’s similar with the floss, but you should wrap the pieces of it around your fingers which can be tricky.
Brush before bed
This should go without saying – brushing your teeth is a must if you’re hoping to keep them healthy for a long time. Brushing is a great way to protect your teeth from plaque and decay, but you should make sure you’re using the right toothbrush and toothpaste. People with sensitive gums should use personalised toothbrushes with soft bristles because, otherwise, they might feel pain while brushing. Also, your toothpaste should contain fluoride for teeth strengthening. It’s best if you brush your teeth with short, circular motions and start from the outer teeth, slowly working your way to inner ones. If you’re susceptible to cavities and gum disease, it might be a good idea to brush after dinner and then once again before going to bed.
Wear a night guard
You might not even be aware of it, but you could be clenching and grinding your teeth while you sleep. While it might not seem like a big deal, people who do this are at a higher risk of tooth chipping and fractures, and they wear their teeth out sooner. If you’re not sure whether you’re doing this, ask your dentist to look for excessive wear on your teeth when you go for your regular checkup. Waking up with a headache or tenderness at the jaw might also be an indicator of grinding, so a night guard might be exactly what you need. You wear it just like a retainer or sports guard, and it will protect your teeth and relax your muscles.
Flossing is as important as brushing because it removes plaque build-up not only from the surface of your teeth but from the space between your teeth as well. Cavities can also occur between your teeth and these are much more difficult to fix afterwards. Use an 18-inch strand of a strong dental floss and wind it around your fingers to get a good grip. The floss should be held tightly between your thumb and forefingers and you can move it between your teeth with gentle motions. Flossing also strengthens and keeps your gums healthy too. It doesn’t take long but it will do wonders for your oral health.
You should always do everything you can to ensure that your teeth and mouth are healthy, but you should never forget to visit your dentist on regular basis as well. Regular check-ups and cleanings of your teeth by a professional will give you a piece of mind, and what is more, the dentist will be able to spot even the smallest imperfections and to fix them soon. Adopt healthy habits, visit your dentist regularly, and your teeth will stay healthy and strong for a long time.