Taking care of your dental health is a continuous process. Although brushing and flossing can keep your teeth clean, you need regular professional dental care to maintain your oral health and avoid dental issues.
Prioritising your oral health is important as it can save you from different oral and general health issues. Below are answers to frequently asked questions about caring for oral health. These tips and answers from a dental hygienist will ensure you have good oral health.
Should brushing my teeth be before or after breakfast?
Brushing your teeth before breakfast and rinsing afterwards is advisable. When you brush your teeth before breakfast, fluoride in the toothpaste protects your teeth, but if you brush after eating acid or sugar-containing meals, you will rub the sugars or acid on your enamel, increasing the risk of erosion and dental decay.
Suppose you want to clean your teeth after eating; the best way is rinsing your mouth with clean water or chew sugar-free gum containing xylitol. Xylitol helps in fighting tooth decay.
Are there teeth brushing techniques that can damage my teeth, and how can I brush correctly?
Most people do not brush long enough to clean their teeth. Some brush long enough but do not clean the gum line, while others over brush their teeth.
While brushing your teeth, place the bristles of the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line and ensure you brush your gum. Bacteria usually accumulate on the gum line and missing your gum line while cleaning your teeth can lead to gum disease.
Using an electric toothbrush instead of a battery-powered or manual brush is advisable because an electric brush provides better cleaning.
Ensure you hold the toothbrush gently with a light grip and apply light pressure when brushing. Glide the toothbrush across your gums and teeth gently. Applying much pressure while brushing your teeth can lead to permanent and irreversible gum damage (gum recession).
Ensure you change your toothbrush every three months and brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and before going to bed. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to brush your teeth.
Can I rinse my mouth after brushing?
Spitting after brushing your teeth is advisable. Rinsing your mouth after brushing your teeth will wash off the fluoride in your toothpaste which helps protect your teeth.
Should I brush my teeth immediately after eating sweet or acidic food?
If you drank or ate something sugary or acidic, wait for about 30 minutes to one hour before brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth immediately will spread the sugar or acid on your enamel, making it weak.
Try limiting your intake of acidic and sugary things to less than three or four times a day and consider having these foods or drinks during mealtimes. For example, if you drink orange juice during breakfast, avoid having anything for some hours to allow your mouth to neutralise itself. Your saliva and fluoride from brushing in the morning will help remineralise your teeth. However, when the teeth are under constant acid and sugar attack, they may become damaged.
Which toothpaste is the best?
Ensure you always use a toothpaste containing fluoride. Dental professionals recommend using toothpaste with 1450 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride to protect the teeth from damage. Your dental hygienist can recommend a suitable toothpaste depending on your dental needs.
If you have sensitive teeth, you may need a sensitive formula to relieve the sensitivity symptoms. However, teeth sensitivity results from several things, so consider visiting your dentist to determine the cause of your sensitivity and get a suitable sensitive toothpaste.
Using whitening toothpaste may not be advisable as they do not physically whiten the teeth and may not contain fluoride to strengthen the teeth. Although whitening toothpaste can remove surface stains, it may contain abrasives that damage the enamel, making your teeth more prone to staining.
This also applies to charcoal toothpaste. Charcoal toothpaste may not be as abrasive as whitening toothpaste, but no evidence supports its effectiveness in removing teeth stains. They may reduce your teeth aesthetics because the charcoal particles can accumulate in cracks on your teeth or margins of restoration such as veneers and crowns, making your teeth appear yellow.
What is the importance of flossing, and can I use water flossers?
Toothbrushes cannot reach certain areas of your teeth to remove food particles, and using a toothbrush only cleans about 60% of the teeth. However, cleaning between the teeth with floss or inter-dental brushes also prevents gum disease and tooth decay from plaque or food between the teeth.
If your teeth have spaces between them, opt for inter-dental brushes and consider using the biggest size. Dental floss is a good cleaning option if you do not have spaces between your teeth. Ensure you floss at least once daily, preferably at night in front of a mirror.
If flossing is difficult for you, try using an electric floss to supplement your interdental brushing or regular flossing.
What foods and drinks are bad for the teeth and why?
Being deficient in some nutrients can show in your mouth. Generally, deficiency in minerals can affect the teeth and bones, while vitamin deficiency affects the soft tissues. For example, an early sign of vitamin deficiency may lead to mouth ulcers which last for about three weeks.
All foods play a role in having a healthy balanced diet, but eating foods in the major groups is important. However, avoid acidic and sugary foods between meals because acid and sugar attack the enamel. If you want to take sugar or acidic foods or drinks, try incorporating them into your meal times to reduce their impact on the teeth. Consider reducing your acid and sugar intake to at most 3 – 4 times daily.
Besides protecting your teeth, avoiding sugary drinks and foods between meals can keep your blood sugar stable, reducing the risk of drops and spikes, improving energy levels and regulating appetite.
Take your drinks with a straw and rinse your mouth after having dark coloured drinks and foods. Eat enough lean protein, healthy fats, nuts, and plants to balance your diet, but avoid refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, processed foods, and meat. Consider reducing your alcohol intake.
What is your recommendation to get white teeth, and can I whiten my teeth?
The first step is identifying the cause of your teeth discolouration. However, note that the natural teeth colour varies. Your dental professional can recommend a suitable teeth whitening option for you after assessing your suitability for the treatment, and you can also discuss your options.
You may also consider professional teeth cleaning if you haven’t visited the dentist in a long time. Biofilm therapy available at different dental clinics combines air, fine powder and warm water to clean the teeth, remove deposits and stains, making the teeth look whiter.
Suppose you want to undergo professional teeth cleaning. In that case, you can consider an in-surgery treatment that takes about one hour or a home whitening system that whitens the teeth gradually over two weeks.
With home teeth whitening, you can have custom-made trays for periodic top-ups at home using professionally formulated teeth whitening gel. Ensure you always whiten your teeth under the guidance of a dental professional. Only registered dental practitioners are legally allowed to whiten the teeth, and you need a consultation to determine your suitability for the procedure.
How often do I need to visit my dentist?
Visiting your dentist should be at least once every year and your hygienist 1 – 2 times a year. Ensure you attend your routine dental appointments. Having regular check-ups allows you have an up-to-date and accurate medical record on your oral health.
You can get screening for dental decay, oral cancer and gum disease, which are preventable with the right care. Your visits to the dental clinic are an essential part of your oral hygiene routine and necessary to maintain your dental health.
If you haven’t had a dental check-up and cleaning in a long time, you can call 020 3137 5055 to book a hygienist appointment in London today.