In a healthy mouth, the population of bacteria is in balance: there is no inflammation, the teeth are strong and – if you take care of your water and food intake, as well as tooth brushing regularly – the breath is fresh. But once the bacteria start building the biofilm in our mouth, the balance gets disrupted. Proper oral hygiene is the key to bringing that balance back.
To see if your mouth is really clean, try these four tests.
1. Tongue test
Run your tongue over all the surfaces of your teeth. If your teeth feel as smooth as glass, you’ve done a good job of brushing. If some areas still feel a bit rough, you should brush them again.
Bacteria start forming the layer of biofilm in as little as two hours after brushing. After 48 hours this biofilm gets stronger, turning into a thicker dental plaque. This plaque can be removed only by mechanical cleaning with a toothbrush.
If the plaque stays on your teeth too long, it can lead to any number of problems, including tooth decay (also known as caries), gingivitis or even periodontitis.
The only way to steer clear of these unpleasant issues is to clean your teeth properly, including the hard-to-access places like the lines between your gums and teeth where plaque likes to settle in.
2. Test with an interdental brush
While classic tooth brushing helps you get rid of bacteria in most parts of your teeth and gums, there are places that can’t be reached with a conventional toothbrush. And these are the interdental spaces.
To check if your interdental spaces are clean, use an interdental brush. Just insert the interdental brush between your teeth – make sure to use one that fits your size – and pull it out. Quite possibly it will be covered with a white mushy substance; this is the dental plaque.
To double-check, take a quick sniff of the interdental brush after pulling it out of your interdental spaces, and you’ll know that the plaque that remains between your teeth has got to go. In order to remove this plaque and avoid bad breath, caries and gum disease, clean your interdental spaces daily.
3. Breath test
Another test you can do to find out if your teeth, gums and interdental spaces have been thoroughly and properly cleaned, is the breath test.
Wash your hands and then lick the inner part of the wrist (the place where you would usually spray your perfume) with the back part of your tongue. Then, smell your wrist. The odour you smell is the actual odour of your breath.
If it’s not as pleasant as you’d like it to be, make sure you pay enough attention to all hard-to-reach places in your mouth. The cause of your unfresh breath might be the microorganisms in the dental plaque, which produce odorous sulphur compounds that studies have identified as a leading cause of bad breath.
4. Single toothbrush test
A single toothbrush is specially designed for cleaning every single tooth individually, step by step. It also makes it easier to clean the line between the gum and tooth without damaging the gum.
To test how clean your teeth are, brush one of your front teeth using the single toothbrush. Next, run your tongue over the tooth you brushed and a few of its neighbours. You should immediately feel the difference – the tooth you cleaned with the single toothbrush will be noticeably smoother than the others.
Try to adapt these simple steps into your daily teeth brushing routine. The results will soon become obvious – fresh breath and a healthy mouth.