Being an eternal optimist I have always held the belief that as my parents have strong teeth, I will also have strong teeth and therefore have never bothered to do anything other than brush them, a lot. I cared far more about having fresh breath than what I was doing to my teeth. They were just getting an added benefit from my ‘fear of halitosis!’
Recently I visited a hygienist who opened my eyes (and mouth) to the importance of good oral hygiene for the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums into old age. I was so surprised to receive this unexpected insight into everything I was not doing or doing wrong that I felt moved to share the information.
If any of you are dentists and disagree with what you read then please share your thoughts and I will make the appropriate amendment in my next newsletter. If you are a dentist and learn something from this then I suppose that is why you send us to the hygienist!
The key points:
Electric or Manual? There is no question that electric does a more thorough job. A recent survey showed them to be more effective at removing plaque by 21%. The vibration allows for more micro-movements every time you move your toothbrush across your teeth. Oscillating (rotating) toothbrushes apparently work better than just vibrating toothbrushes.
Let the brush do the work. Most of us are too rough on our teeth. I now have a brush that flashes red when I press too hard. As I never read instructions I didn’t know what the red light meant, or why it was on more than off. When I found out, I apologised to my poor teeth!
How to brush. I don’t know about you but I thought as long as the brush was in contact with my teeth that was good enough? This is not entirely correct because the gums are as important as the teeth. This had to be explained to me carefully!
“When you eat foods containing sugars and starches, the bacteria in plaque produce acids, which attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth. After constant acid attack, the tooth enamel breaks down forming a hole or cavity.
If plaque is not removed by brushing, it can harden into ‘tartar’. As tartar forms near the gumline, the plaque underneath releases harmful poisons causing the gums to become irritated and inflamed.” The gums start to pull away from the teeth and the gaps become infected. If gum disease is not treated promptly, the bone supporting the teeth is destroyed, and healthy teeth can become loose and fall out. Severe gum disease can lead to teeth falling out and needing to be replaced.
That little horror story led me to find out how to brush my teeth and gums more effectively.
- Brush for 2 minutes twice a day – This was one of the hardest things for me as I thought that meant standing still for a length of time! I got used to it very quickly and can now text one handed which my children never thought I would master. Result!
- One tooth at a time simply so you don’t miss any.
- Brush more on the gums than the tooth by angling the brush upwards for the top teeth and downwards for the lower set. Place the brushhead 2/3 on gums 1/3 on teeth
- Don’t rinse with water straight after brushing as it will wash away the concentrated fluoride in the remaining toothpaste. This dilutes it and reduces its preventative effects.
It is important to use a toothpaste with the right concentration of fluoride. Adults should look for one with at least 1,350 ppm (parts per million) fluoride. You can find this information on the packaging. Warning, you might need your glasses!
Floss and interdental brushes:
Don’t worry if you have never heard of the latter, they were new to me too. I now have a bathroom cabinet full of them! They are vital for removing the plaque between your teeth and on your gums that brushing will not reach. You should floss before brushing
I am experimenting with all different types and am finding that I need floss for any teeth that are very close together despite there being many different sizes of interdental brushes.
My research amongst family and friends has taught that everyone prefers different brands, textures, shapes etc. and it is worth trying out a few different ones to see which suits your mouth best.
Basically you need a mouth like Wallace (of Wallace & Gromit) until you get better at this in-between the teeth business!
When I researched mouthwash I discovered that they are considered to be similar to multi vitamins, a phycological insurance. No proven benefit.
You don’t need mouthwash, but if you enjoy it, or you have bad breath and feel it helps, then there’s no substantiated risks to rinsing once or twice a day.
Bad Breath: (the worst thing about bad breath is not knowing you have it!)
Failing to brush and floss your teeth properly and regularly can make your breath smell because plaque and bacteria accumulate on and between your teeth. Food that’s not removed by flossing stays between your teeth, causing your breath to smell unpleasant. Gum disease can also contribute to bad breath.
Finally, I want to make a link between this topic and Tessfit. Toothache and urgent dentist appointments will prevent you from attending class. I rest my case!
I hope this blog has been of interest to you and encouraged some changes in your tooth routine as it did mine .😊