Are YOU brushing your teeth wrong? Dentists reveal four tips for better dental health
We all know the advice for healthy teeth – brush twice a day and don’t eat too much sugar.
Why do those of us who follow these instructions sometimes need a filling when we go to the dentist?
The truth is, there is a bit more to preventing tooth decay than these guidelines suggest.
Here’s what you need to know, according to Clement Seeballuck and Professor Nicola Innes, a pediatric dentist at the University of Dundee.
After brushing, don’t rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash, the experts say
Improve your skills
How you brush makes a huge difference. Mechanical brushing removes the very sticky plaque – a mixture of bacteria, their acids and sticky by-products as well as food residues.
It forms naturally on the teeth immediately after you eat it, but it doesn’t get nasty and starts damaging the teeth until it reaches a certain level of maturity. The exact time is not known, but is at least more than 12 hours.
Bacteria consume sugar and, as a by-product, produce acids that loosen minerals from teeth and leave microscopic holes that we cannot see.
If the process is not stopped and repaired, these can become large, visible voids.
Brushing your teeth takes two minutes and is a good goal to remove plaque. You should brush at night and one more time a day.
Brushing often stops bacteria from developing to a stage where the species that produce the most acid can establish themselves.
Electric toothbrushes can be more effective than manual brushing, and a small toothbrush head helps reach uncomfortable areas in the mouth, while medium-textured bristles help you clean effectively without damaging gums and teeth.
The main thing, however, is to get brushed!
Use fluoride toothpaste and release tablets
The biggest benefit of brushing comes from toothpaste. The main ingredient is fluoride, which has been shown to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride replaces lost minerals in your teeth and also makes them stronger.
For maximum benefit, use toothpaste with 1350-1500 ppmF – this is the fluoride concentration in ppm – to prevent tooth decay.
Check the concentration of your toothpaste by reading the ingredients on the back of the tube. Not all children’s toothpastes are strong enough to get the most benefit.
Your dentist may prescribe a higher strength fluoride toothpaste based on an assessment of the risk of tooth decay in you or your child.
Plaque is difficult to see because it is whitish, like your teeth.
Disclosure tablets are available in supermarkets and pharmacies and make plaque more visible. They reveal areas that you may have missed while brushing.
Spit, do not rinse
You produce less saliva at night than during the day. Because of this, your teeth are less protected from saliva and more prone to acid attacks.
This is why it is important to remove food from your teeth before bed so that plaque bacteria cannot eat overnight.
Do not eat or drink anything other than water after brushing at night. This also gives fluoride the longest opportunity to work.
After brushing, do not rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash – you will wash away the fluoride! This can be a difficult habit, but it can reduce tooth decay by up to 25 percent.
Brushing often stops bacteria from developing to a stage where the species that produce the most acid can establish themselves
HOW MUCH SUGAR IS TOO MUCH?
The amount of sugar a person should eat in a day depends on how old they are.
Children between the ages of four and six should be limited to a maximum of 19 g per day.
Seven to ten year olds shouldn’t be more than 24 g, and children 11 and over should be 30 g or less.
In the meantime, the NHS recommends that adults eat no more than 30 grams of free sugar per day.
Popular snacks are surprisingly high in sugar, and even a single can of Coca Cola (35 g sugar) or a Mars bar (33 g) contains more than the maximum amount of sugar a child should have over a day.
A bowl of Frosties contains 24g of sugar, which means that a 10-year-old who has Frosties for breakfast will likely have reached their limit for the day before they even leave the house.
Children who eat too much sugar risk damaging their teeth, gaining fat, becoming overweight, and developing type 2 diabetes, which increases the risk of heart disease and cancer.
No more than four “sugar hits”
Intrinsic sugars occur naturally in foods like fruits and are far less likely to cause tooth decay than added or free sugars.
Free sugars are generally those added to foods by manufacturers, but so are honey, syrups, and fruit juices.
These are easy for bacteria to consume, metabolize, and produce acids. However, it can be difficult to tell which sugars are worst for your teeth.
For example, while normal amounts of fruit are fine, fruit juices have sugars that are released from plant cells, and heavy consumption can cause putrefaction.
The World Health Organization and the NHS recommend that free sugar ideally make up less than five percent of your daily caloric intake.
How does it look? For adults and children over 11 years of age, this is about 30 g – about eight teaspoons – of sugar per day.
A 330 ml can of cola contains 35 g of sugar. The change4life app is helpful for keeping track of how much sugar you are consuming in your diet.
While not as important as how much, how often you eat sugar is also important.
Simple carbohydrates like sugar are easier for bacteria to digest than proteins or complex carbohydrates. Bacteria produce acids after metabolizing sugar, which leads to demineralization.
Fortunately, the effects of fluoride toothpaste and the remineralizing effects of saliva allow your teeth to recover from the early stages of these seizures.
It’s like having a scale trying to balance sugar on one side, fluoride toothpaste and cleaning on the other.
As a rule, your teeth can be exposed to four “sugar hits” – episodes of sugar intake – per day without irreversible damage to the teeth.
Why don’t you count how many sugary hits you have a day? These include cookies, cups of sugary tea or coffee, and other snacks with refined carbohydrates like chips.
An easy way to reduce it would be to stop adding the sugar to hot drinks and limit snacking.
Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, do not rinse, do not eat or drink anything after brushing and do not consume sugar more than four times a day. Easy!