Start 2013 with a smile with our 6 top tips for terrific teeth
1. VISITING TIMES
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how many teeth you have, you should always follow your dentist’s advice about how often they need to see you,” says Karen Coates, Dental Advisor at the British Dental Health Foundation.
“Prevention is always better than cure and regular visits to the dentist can help identify developing problems early – and, more importantly, set you on a path to rectify them. There’s a chance everyone will suffer from gum disease at some point in their lives ( it’s that common) so do remember to get to your dentist or hygienist as often as they recommend.”
2. FOOD AND DRINK
“Diet may have a large impact on the growing obesity problem in the UK, but there’s no escaping the damage a poor diet does to our teeth too,” says Karen.
“One of the Foundation’s key messages is ‘ cut down how often you have sugary foods and drinks’. This is a particularly important message for parents to remember. The more often your child has sugary or acidic foods or drinks, the more likely they are to have tooth decay. It is therefore important to keep sugary and acidic foods to mealtimes only. Food and drinks which are kindest to teeth include cheese, crackers, bread sticks, raw vegetables, plain water and milk.”
3. FLUORIDE FACTS
“It’s important to brush your teeth first thing in the morning and just before you go to bed for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste,” says Karen. “During the night the flow of saliva, which is the mouth’s cleaning system, slows down. This leaves the mouth more at risk of decay; therefore brushing acts as a preventive measure.
“Fluoride is an incredibly important addition to the toothpaste we use. It’s also found in drinking water across the country. There are different levels recommended depending on how old you are. All children up to three years old should use a toothpaste with a fluoride level of at least 1,000ppm ( parts per million). After three years old, the Foundation recommends you use a tooth paste that contains 1 , 3 5 0 ppm - 1,500p pm. If you’re unsure how much fluoride is in a particular brand, check the packaging for the Foundation’s approved symbol for reassurance.”
4. CLEAN BETWEEN
“As brushing alone only cleans around two thirds of the mouth, it is important to use interdental brushes or floss to clean away any food debris caught between the teeth,” says Karen. “Interdental cleaning can help reduce the risk of gum disease.”
“Rigorous tests have proven electric tooth brushes, with small round oscillating rotating heads, can be up to twice as effective at removing plaque than a manual brush,” says Karen. “Many also have two- minute timers to ensure you clean for the recommended period of time. Some, such as the Oral B Triumph with Smart Guide, also have a remote display to help you brush for the correct time and sensors to
show you when you are brushing too hard. Look for the British Dental Health Foundation accredited logo which shows that the claims the product is making have been scientifically proven.”
6. THE ONE- HOUR RULE
“It takes an average of 40 minutes for the mouth to neutralise the acid caused by eating or drinking sugar, therefore it is best to wait at least one hour after eating before brushing teeth,” says Karen. “Eating or drinking weakens the enamel on the teeth, meaning if you brush too soon it can cause tiny particles of the enamel to be brushed away. You can help to speed up the time that is takes for the saliva to neutralise these plaque acids and lessen the damage that they can cause by chewing sugar- free gum containing Xylitol, rinsing with a fluoride mouthrinse or plain water.”
Karen Coates, Dental Advisor at the British Dental Health Foundation