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Focus on oral hygiene

September is national Oral Health Month – time to pay extra attention to your dental routine, particularly as two of the world’s most common health problems affect the mouth – cavities (dental caries) and gum disease.

Gum disease ranks second only to the common cold in terms of prevalence, with an estimated 90% of South Africans experiencing the problem at some point.

It really is in your best interests to practice good oral hygiene. Not only does it ensure a beautiful smile, but it is good for your health – gum disease has been linked to coronary heart disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes and diabetes. And new research also shows that women with gum disease find it harder to conceive.

Here are five simple steps to care for your mouth, teeth and gums:

1. Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least two full minutes each time. First thing in the morning and before bedtime are the most important times to do so.

2. Floss every day. Bedtime is the best time for this.

3. Limit the number of times you snack each day. The longer food stays near bacteria on your teeth, the more acids are produced. This makes dental plaque more acidic and starts a process that leads to cavities.

4. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Frayed bristles don’t clean teeth as thoroughly. Think about replacing it sooner if you’ve been ill and your toothbrush is stored close to other toothbrushes.

5.Visit your dentist every six months for a check-up and professional cleaning. The cost of maintaining your teeth’s condition could save you a lot of money, pain and inconvenience in the long-run.

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