By Dr Tan Wee Kiat, Senior Consultant, Paediatric Dentistry Unit, National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS), a member of the SingHealth group.

Your teeth are the hardest substance in your body. With correct care, they should last a lifetime.

Request for a caries risk assessment
Stop the cycle of fillings. Instead, ask your dentist to do a caries risk assessment for you and help you manage the risk.

Don’t brush your teeth immediately after acidic drinks like wine and juices
You could be brushing away your enamel. Wait 20 minutes for your saliva to neutralise the acid or gargle with a bicarbonate mouth wash.

Wear a mouth guard
If you grind your teeth at night, consider wearing a mouth guard to protect your teeth from excessive wear. Your dentist can make one for you.

Use the right toothpaste
When brushing your teeth, use a remineralising toothpaste to reharden areas of teeth which have been attacked by acids.

Get a yearly fluoride treatment at your dentist
Once every year, treat your teeth to a fluoride treatment by your dentist.

Whiten your teeth
Teeth discoloured by ageing or stains can be whitened professionally in one visit. Results are immediate and last at least a year if you stay away from smoking and drinks like tea and coffee.

Home bleaching kits take longer and have less dramatic results. Watch out for sensitivity which is the downside of bleaching treatment. Fortunately this is temporary.

Straighten your crooked teeth
Mildly crooked teeth can be straightened with veneers if you have no time for braces. Hate the visibility of metal braces? Ask your dentist for “invisible” ones.

Follow the 3-2-1 rule to keep bad breath at bay
While mouth rinses may be available, they are transient in effect. The 3-2-1 rule can help to keep bad breath at bay and promote good oral health. The 3-2-1 rule is as follows:

3 minutes to brush your teeth
2 times a day of 1-minute flossing and
1 visit to the dentist every 6 months

Reproduced with permission from SingHealth’s Health Xchange, Singapore’s first interactive health and lifestyle resource portal. For more information, visit www.healthxchange.com.sg.

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