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Tend to your teeth properly

Tend to your teeth properly

If there's one thing you think you can do with your eyes shut, it's probably brushing your teeth. After all, it's a motion you go through at least twice a day, ever since you can remember. But there ARE ways of getting it wrong, which could lead to bad breath, tooth and gum problems and trips to the dentist. Luckily, US dentist and bacteriologist, and founder of The Breath Company, Dr Harold Katz, is on hand to share professional oral hygiene tips.

Don't ignore the gums

You might think it's all about the teeth and while they are important, your gums also need to be clean. When brushing, Dr Katz advises going above the gum line to help prevent disease in this area.

Don't slack

Even if you're rushing in the morning, don't skimp on your brushing routine. You need to perform this task at least twice a day, for two minutes each time. Make a conscious effort to reach every tooth and surface.

Pick the right product

You can be as careful a cleaner as you like - if the toothpaste is wrong, it's all for nothing. Invest in a good fluoride toothpaste without sulphate. Detergents in many toothpastes can cause dry mouth, which in turn can lead to bad breath and make ulcers worse. Picking a good toothbrush is also key. Dr Katz recommends an electric one with a timer, so you can keep track of how long you're brushing. And replace the heads/the whole manual brush every three to four months.

Nail the technique

A quick brush from side to side is not enough! Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle, then gently perform back-and-forth motions, reaching the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your gnashers. Finish it off with a brush of the tongue, which keeps breath fresh.

Floss and rinse

Brushing is not where your routine should finish: Dr Katz recommends rounding it off with a floss and a rinse of mouthwash.

"Neglecting to clean teeth interdentally can leave as much as 40 per cent of the tooth surface untouched and exposed to bacteria," he warns.

Start by breaking off half a metre of dental floss, wind most of it around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the middle finger of the other. When the floss reaches your gum line, curve it against one tooth and rub gently. Rub the tooth in a gentle up-and-down motion. Finish off with an alcohol-free mouthwash to kill bacteria.

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