Dental Myth Busting
There are numerous pieces of advice and old wives tales that are told when it comes to how best look after yourself. We all know small changes can make a big difference. So when I explain to my patients commonly misunderstood pieces of general oral health advice they do seem rather surprised. There are either those that have been given the correct information from childhood and wonder why I’m giving them such simples pieces of advice and the others that are shocked as they are then aware they’ve been doing thing ‘confidently wrong’ for years!
As a profession we are moving much more towards prevention and education, as we are empowering our patients to make the right choices and take control of their own well-being.
Here are a few pieces of advice I routinely give to my patients at each check-up and which (hopefully after a few times of hearing me drone on about them!!) they begin to take heed and act upon.
Similar to Chicken and the Egg – Brushing before or after breakfast??… Well there are no straight answers to this. If you’re anything like me, time is of the essence in the mornings so the short answer would be before. This is because it takes around 30minutes for your saliva to naturally neutralise the plaque acids that are developed when we eat or drink most things. So to avoid risking wearing your teeth when brushing (Abrasion), if you can spare this time then great, otherwise stick to before.
Rinse or spit?? … You should not rinse your mouth after brushing!! This negates one of the most important reasons for brushing your teeth. Toothpaste for adults/6yr plus containing ideally 1350-1550ppm Fluoride (can be checked in the ingredients on tube – most high street branded pastes) supersaturates your mouth with the protective Fluoride ions which gives the desired topical effect.
Mouthwash really worth it??….Yes it is! However it is best used at a time other than brushing to avoid the dilution effect described above with rinsing. I usually suggest after lunch or school/work to give you a top-up at a time other than brushing. Some controversy over alcohol containing washes mainly for religious reasons and those at higher risk of oral cancer. There are plenty of non-alcohol containing ones these days for those where this could be a concern.
It’s not the amount, it’s the frequency!….The analogy I use is if you were going to eat a bag of sugar, it would be better to have it all in one go as opposed to little bits throughout the day (I’m not advocating this by the way!!) Hence the emphasis on well balanced meals and restricting any food and drink to mealtimes. Also The use of sugar free chewing gum/mints after, to help stimulate the previously mentioned natural protective saliva buffering capacity.
Night time…. Brushing and ideally flossing should be the last thing before sleeping hence the most important piece of advice I give. The worst time to eat or drink anything would be after this in the evening. At night your saliva flow is dramatically reduced and food debri and plaque acids linger for longer.
As with all health advice it is best when tailored to your individual circumstances. This is what we aim to provide for our patients of all ages in our clinic. We bespoke our advice and plans to each individuals needs. This is why you should visit your Dentist and Hygienist on a regular basis even when you have no obvious problems as prevention is always better than cure!! 🙂
Dr Bhavin Patel BDS(Hons) MJDF RCS (Eng)
T: 02079356809 / 02079350476