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30 May 2012

How to keep your teeth in tip top condition

We have had a lot of request from our feedback surveys for information on how to keep your teeth in tip top condition so here’s how…

Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Anything like Colgate or even your supermarkets own brand is fine as long as it contains fluoride. Be wary of the ‘whitening’ toothpastes, these will only remove superficial stains from smoking, food & drink and cannot actually ‘whiten’ your teeth. They are usually very abrasive and are not recommended for daily use. We recommend that if you wish to use whitening toothpaste that you limit use to once per week and continue with regular toothpaste for everyday use.

The best advised for brushing is to use a small head with medium bristles or an electric toothbrush by oral b or Phillips. It is important to brush every surface of the tooth to remove bacteria and sugars which can cause decay and gum disease. Try to avoid scrubbing when brushing your teeth as this can result in the gums receding. Tooth brushing should take at least 2 ½ minutes whereas the average person spends only 40 seconds.

Children under 3 should be using a toothpaste that contains no less than 1,000ppm fluoride, and only a smear should be applied to the toothbrush. Some children’s toothpastes do not contain this level of toothpaste so it is important to check. Children over 3 should be using a pea sized amount of family toothpaste (1,350 to 1,500ppm of fluoride). A list of toothpastes is available from the dental practice

Clean between! You may feel that after brushing you have removed all of the bacteria in your mouth. The problem is only about 70% of bacteria is removed when brushing your teeth and the rest harbours in between your teeth and around your mouth. If left these bacteria can cause problems such as bad breath gum disease, periodontitis and even tooth and bone loss.

Dental floss, interdental brushes, floss picks and the Philips air floss are all great ways of cleaning in-between your teeth to remove these bacteria. The bacteria stay between the teeth and around the gum edges which are the most important places to clean. Without good healthy gums as a solid foundation bone can be lost which causes your teeth to loosen and overtime may result in tooth loss. It is important to clean between teeth every day

Many people find floss difficult to use which is why the floss picks are great. They look like a small catapult with a piece of dental floss attached which makes manoeuvring easier for better cleaning. The interdental brushes come in the form of a small bottle brush or a small plastic brush with a rubber coating. The idea is to use the biggest size possible that fits into the space which means more bacteria and plaque is removed. You will usually find that one size will not fit every gap in your mouth and you might need to use a few different brushes for different areas. If kept clean brushes can be reused a few times.

Mouthwashes cannot remove plaque but are great for getting extra fluoride around your teeth. Look out for a mouthwash that contains sodium fluoride 0.05% w/w or 225ppmF. This will be enough fluoride to rinse once a day. The best time to rinse is during the day so more fluoride can be absorbed into the teeth

Teeth can still decay even if teeth are kept spotlessly clean so it is essential to watch those sugary drinks and foodstuffs. Some sugars are hidden on ingredient lists such as dextrose, glucose and sucrose. If sugars are eaten very frequently then tooth decay will occur. We recommend that you save sweet sticky treats for meal times and look out for tooth friendlier snacks and drinks between meals.

Xylitol is a natural sweetening agent that cannot cause tooth decay but actually has a protective effect on teeth. It can be found in Chewing gum marketed as Spry.

Smoking can have a negative impact on your mouth. Unfortunately smoking can contribute to gum disease and can cause oral cancer. 70% of smokers want to quit but find it hard to, we have found that patients are 4 times more likely to succeed in quitting if they use the stop smoking support service on 0800 022 4 332.

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