Surprising Facts About the Cleanliness of Your Mouth
Since your mouth only belongs to you, it may be surprising that it contains more germs than are on your cell phone. According to a testing analysis conducted by Ameritech Laboratories for Colgate, the human mouth has over one billion germs on just the teeth. (There's 1,032 per square inch on your Blackberry or iPhone and 558 per square inch on a women's restroom toilet seat.) Since you can't exactly spray your mouth with Lysol, how do you keep these at bay?
Surprisingly, the burn of an antiseptic mouthwash only does so much, as does brushing after each meal and flossing. (Although we still advise that you do that!) Your best bet is to opt for a toothpaste that provides long-lasting protection like Colgate Total, ($4.99, drugstore.com), which keeps your mouth extra clean for 12 hours. The formula contains fluoride (to help protect teeth against cavities), the antibacterial ingredient triclosan (to fight off germs), and a Colgate-patented co-polymer that helps the effects last longer between brushings.
Why You Need to Be More Concerned About Your Gums
It's the question that your dentist asks as soon as you sit down for your twice-a-year checkup: "Have you been flossing?" Lo and behold, he or she isn't trying to be a nag, but rather, making sure that you're getting into all the nooks and crevices in between your teeth and along your gum line to avoid the Big G (gingivitis). "One in two American adults have gingivitis, and many don't even know it. When left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which can be a major cause of tooth loss," says dental hygienist Amy Hazlewood. "Healthy gums are pale pink in color and firm. Gums that are soft, swollen, red and bleed easily during brushing and flossing are signs that you have gingivitis."
To avoid the Big G, get a check up every six months or per your dentist's discretion. In between visits, stick to a regular oral-care routine, and avoid sticky, sugary sweets and carbohydrates as they can contribute to plaque and bacteria that leads to gum disease. Hazlewood recommends using Crest Pro-Health Clinical Gum Protection, a line that includes specially-formulated toothpaste, dental floss, and a toothbrush that has a unique design to get in-between teeth.