There has been a few articles in the press recently around the topic of do’s and don’ts when it comes to brushing your teeth. The points made are quite important so I thought I’d write a quick summary of two important pieces:
1. A recent study from a Swedish University found that the big majority of those sampled:
- Often did not brush twice daily, as is required for best preventing decay and gum disease.
- Rinsed their mouths out with water immediately after brushing – A big no-no! Doing this will wash away the fluoride which fights decay.
- Did not use an optimal brushing technique. Many just used the same technique for life, sticking to whatever they learned as a child. SO any bad practices seem hard to get out of.
- Cleaned their teeth to ‘keep their mouths fresh’. Many were unaware of the main purpose of oral hygiene – to fight tooth decay and gum disease.
2. An article in the NY Times explains the dangers of brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking. Many will be surprised by the fact that it is best not to do so for at least 30 minutes. Surely it is best to clean away all the food etc.?
Well, no as once we eat or drink our plaque acid levels are raised. If we brush at this stage we can actually damage the enamel as the surface is in a slightly weaker state due to the acid. Over years, this can do a lot of damage to the tooth enamel. The damage is known as tooth-wear. For more info on tooth-wear see this article.
So, the advice is to leave at least 30 minutes before brushing, as the pH levels lower to a safer level after this time. What you can do to help fight decay after eating or drinking includes:
- Rinse out with water or a mouthwash. This helps lower the acidity levels after eating.
- Drink some milk. Again this neutralises acid.
- Chew sugar-free gum. Doing so will raise saliva levels which naturally helps reduce the acidity. Additionally, many sugar-free gums contain xylitol, a chemical which helps fight decay.
“So What is the Best Advice For Brushing Your Teeth?”
Here are the most important points to remember:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste. Use higher concentrations of fluoride if you are prone to decay. Ask your dentist for specific advice.
- Brush for a minimum of two minutes twice a day. Spend 30 seconds in each ‘quadrant’ of your mouth.
- Do not rinse out with water immediately after cleaning your teeth, as this washes away the fluoride. Spit but don’t rinse!
- Turn off the tap when brushing – Nothing to do with your teeth, but saves a lot of water!
- Floss or use another inter-dental cleaning device such as a water flosser at least once daily.