It’s a twice a day habit that many won’t give much thought to.
But dentists have now revealed the most common mistakes people make when brushing their teeth.
From forgetting a key practice along with brushing to brushing your teeth at the wrong time of day, Dr. Sameer Patel and Dr. Safa Al-Naher explain ways to keep your teeth pearly white.
Dr Patel, founder and clinical director of Elleven Dental in central London, said: “If we don’t take care of our oral health, it can have serious implications for our future health.”
“In addition to chronic bad breath (halitosis), neglecting to care for your teeth and gums can lead to problems including gum disease, tooth abscesses, cavities, infections, and even tooth loss.”
Elleven Dental Founder and Clinical Director Dr. Sameer Patel and Dr. Safa revealed the top mistakes to avoid to help maintain a healthy white smile
About half of adults over the age of 30 show signs of gum disease, but dental experts recommend the top mistakes to avoid in your daily cleaning routine
forgetting to floss
Everyone knows that they are supposed to brush their teeth twice a day.
But it is believed that only one in three Britons floss on a daily basis.
This is despite the NHS urging everyone over 12 to do so, as brushing only cleans the 40 per cent of the tooth surface that a brush cannot reach.
The practice not only helps maintain healthy gums and white teeth, as evidence also suggests that it has other important health benefits.
Dr Patel said: ‘Increasingly, studies are showing the importance of flossing for neurological and cardiac health as well.
“Flossing removes plaque below the gum line, which can erode tooth enamel and cause tartar, as well as reduce the risk of gingivitis, cavities, and the likelihood of gums becoming inflamed, sore, and red.
“Be sure to floss every day for optimal tooth and gum health, as well as your overall well-being.”
Research funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found that people with moderate to severe gum disease had a 69 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Dental experts strongly recommend the use of interdental brushes or electric flossers as part of people’s daily cleaning routines.
Gum disease forms spaces between the teeth, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation.
This is a natural response to infection, but when it continues for too long, it could damage blood vessels, including those in the heart, and could lead to or worsen coronary heart disease, according to BHF.
A review of 14 studies, conducted by a team at NYU’s Rory Meyers School of Nursing, concluded that those who had lost more teeth were 1.48 times more likely to suffer from cognitive decline and 1.28 times more at risk of dementia.
Dr. Patel’s Top Tips
- Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing
- No Smoking
- Avoid biting or chewing on your nails; Better chew sugarless gum
- Limit the intake of coloring and acidic foods such as curry and chocolate.
- Limit the intake of colored and acidic drinks such as fruit juices, smoothies, red wine, coffee and energy drinks. When you drink these types of beverages, rinse your mouth with water afterwards.
Therefore, the researchers concluded that flossing can improve oral hygiene and reduce the risk of tooth loss.
People who have gum disease and tooth loss are also at higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than those with good oral health.
Experts believe this may be because gum-infecting bacteria damage blood vessels, causing tiny blood clots, or inflammation in the gums triggers vascular damage throughout the body.
Dr Safa, founder and head dentist at Serene in west London, said: “It’s really important to do something to clean between the teeth because brushing only cleans around 40 per cent of the tooth structure.”
The rest is between the teeth. Therefore, you should remove plaque with dental floss, interdental brushes, or an electric flosser.
The NHS recommends that children start flossing after the age of 12.
Not brushing before bed
Before bed is the most important time to brush your teeth, experts say.
But a quarter of Britons forget to do so, polls suggest.
Health chiefs urge people to brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day for about two minutes to keep teeth and mouth healthy.
But it is believed that the brush before going to bed is the most important thing.
This is because plaque (soft food particles and bacteria) can harden on teeth overnight, at which point it cannot be removed with normal brushing. Instead, a dentist or hygienist will need to remove this calcified plaque with special tools.
Also, levels of saliva, which has natural antibacterial properties, drop during sleep, making them more prone to being attacked by bacteria if food particles are left on them, Dr. Safa explained.
Dr Safa’s ‘Cheap and Cheerful’ Trick for Gum Health
If you want to pay attention to your gums, the best mouthwash for your gums is saltwater, which is cheap, cheerful, and readily available.
So half a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt is enough to keep everything nice and healthy.
It kills the bad bacteria, but keeps the good bacteria there.
She said: ‘We recommend brushing your teeth twice a day. If you’re only going to brush once a day, make sure it’s at night before you go to bed at the end of the day.’
Wait until after breakfast to brush your teeth
Many wait until after they eat their first meal of the day before brushing their teeth.
But brushing your teeth after eating can actually do more harm than good.
Dr Patel said: “The inside of our mouth accumulates a lot of bacteria overnight.”
Eating breakfast and drinking coffee or fruit juice effectively feeds these bacteria with sugar, which forms an acid and can attack tooth enamel.
Worse still, brushing your teeth immediately after eating can abrade the softened enamel, which encourages this acid to penetrate the teeth and cause even more damage.
He added: ‘It is therefore important to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste first thing in the morning, before eating.
‘Your toothpaste will also protect the enamel on your teeth from the acid in your food; especially if you like fruit juices or smoothies in the morning.’
Using teeth as tools
Chewing on clothing tags, opening plastic wrap, and removing bottle caps are ways some people can reuse their teeth.
However, dentists warn that this can lead to chipped teeth.
Dr Patel said: “I have seen so many patients with damaged teeth and gums due to years of treating their mouth like a Swiss Army knife.”
‘People use their teeth for all kinds of tasks.
“This is never a good idea, as it puts you at risk of chipping your teeth, cutting your gums, and more.”
How often should you brush your teeth?
- Brush your teeth for at least two minutes in the morning before breakfast and at night before bed. Brush with fluoride toothpaste, spending 30 seconds on each quarter of your mouth.
- Never brush your teeth immediately after a meal, as it can damage your teeth, especially if you have eaten fruit, soft drinks, wine, or any other food that contains acid. Wait one hour after a meal before brushing.
- For most adults, a toothbrush with a small head and a compact, angled arrangement of long and short rounded bristles is fine. Medium or soft bristles are best for most people.
- A simple tip is to visualize a tooth with five surfaces. Three of these, the top, front, and back, need brushing. Flossing takes care of the two hidden surfaces between the teeth.
Source: Direct Health