Best Oral Hygiene Tips
If you want to know more about your oral health, how to clean your teeth or what’s good for your teeth and gums, there are no better people to ask than your local Marrickville Dentist or Oral health therapist at True Smiles Dental.
Every day we get asked questions about product recommendations or technique advice. So, we’ve round up a few of the most commonly asked questions and compiled them into one place for your convenience.
1. Is an electric toothbrush or manual toothbrush better?
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this. Studies show that there is no significant difference between using an electric or manual toothbrush. Therefore, the technique of how you brush and floss is more important that the type of toothbrush you use.
However, there can be many reasons as to why an electric toothbrush may be more beneficial for you.
– Brushing too hard: Many patients believe that the harder they brush, the cleaner their teeth will be. Sadly, this can be incorrect on many levels as brushing too hard can actually have the opposite effect and cause varying degrees of damage to your teeth and gums. This can result in gingival recession, toothbrush abrasion and increased sensitivity. In these circumstances, switching to an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor, can be helpful with pressure control. The team at True Smiles Dental recommend only switching to an electric toothbrush if it has a pressure on it and once you have learnt to use it correctly – you should aim to allow the electric toothbrush to do all the work for you and not use it like a manual toothbrush
– Motivation: electric toothbrushes for children can be great for on-going motivation. We understand that children may get bored of brushing, so electric toothbrushes can make it fun and exciting. Some children’s electric toothbrushes come with timers, music and flashing lights to help make brushing more fun and interactive.
– Limited dexterity: electric toothbrushes can be great for patients with limited mobility and arthritis as its power rotation does not require manual movements – it will do all the work for them. Ease of use is perfect for those with dexterity issues, thus improving oral hygiene.
2. Should I brush my teeth before or after breakfast?
Always brush before breakfast and rinse after. Brushing before breakfast allows you to protect your teeth before eating with the fluoride in your toothpaste. Brushing straight after breakfast or eating in general can lead to dental erosion. If you have the time in the morning, we recommend to normally wait at least 30 minutes after eating and drinking before brushing your teeth.
If you want to cleanse your mouth after eating, we recommend to rinse your mouth and then chew on some sugar free chewing gum. Chewing gum can help to stimulate saliva which in turn help with clearing food and debris from your teeth. In addition to this, sugar-free chewing gum with Xyitol specifically, is beneficial as it is good for decay prevention. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that tastes like sugar, but is actually good for your teeth! It can help to kill the bacteria responsible for dental decay by up to 90% and helps to neutralise plaque acids, making it harder for plaque to stick to your teeth in the future.
3. Should I use a mouthwash?
Mouthwashes can be great in certain circumstances but regular mouth rinses don’t provide a whole lot of benefit.
If you want to incorporate a mouth rinse into your regime, we recommend to use it prior to brushing and waiting at least 30 minutes before brushing. This is because using a mouth rinse after brushing can be counter-intuitive in that it will wash away the fluoride protection you’ve just applied when brushing. We also recommend to select a mouth rinse that is non-alcohol base, as alcohol ingredients can dry out your mouth. A dry mouth is known to increase your risk of tooth decay – something we are trying to prevent!
Occasionally, your Marrickville dental professional may recommend a specific mouth rinse to aid in decay prevention (for higher risk patients or patients undergoing orthodontic treatment) or gum disease.
For example: Mouth wash such as Colgate Neutrafluor 200 or 900 have additional fluoride whereas Savacol or Curasept contain a chlorhexidine ingredient which can be anti-inflammatory to aid in controlling gum infections and inflammation.
It is important to note that mouth washes with additional properties such as those listed above should only be used under the guidance of a dental professional. Long term use of certain mouthwashes can lead to issues in the future. Speak to the team at True Smiles Dental today to find out if incorporating a mouth wash is right for you.
4. What’s the best toothpaste to use?
We recommend using a fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen your teeth and prevent cavities. Fluoride is a natural mineral found in the earth’s core which is scientifically proven to prevent tooth decay or cavities.
If you suffer from sensitive teeth, opting for a sensitive formula toothpaste can definitely help minimize the symptoms of sensitivity. Dental sensitivity can however, be caused by a number of reasons, so it’s important to visit your dentist to assess the cause before investing in sensitive toothpaste. Check out our previous blog on dental sensitivity if you want to know more.
The use of toothpaste for children is completely safe provided we use an age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste for children aged 2-6 years old. Once your child has started to develop adult permanent teeth (usually after the age of 6), it is OK to switch to an adult-strength fluoride toothpaste. Children younger than 2 years old are OK to use non-fluoridated toothpaste if they are unable to spit after brushing.
No matter the brand, always ensure your toothpaste is approved by the TGA (Therapeutic goods administration) and ADA (Australian Dental Association). This is because they have been tested and proven medically to be safe and effective.
5. Is there any toothpaste we don’t recommend?
On the opposite spectrum, we do not recommend using a toothpaste without fluoride where possible. This is because it can increase your risk of dental decay and the need for further dental treatment.
In addition to this, we do not favour whitening toothpaste. This is because they do not work well and can be more abrasive to your enamel in the long term which can result in increased dental sensitivity and other problems. Similarly charcoal toothpastes have no scientific evidence on their effectiveness to whiten teeth or remove stains and are considered more abrasive than regular toothpaste.
6. Do I need to floss and what can I use? Are waterflossers better?
Yes! Brushing your teeth alone will only clean approximately 60% of all teeth surfaces. The remaining 40% of teeth surfaces in between your teeth cannot be fully reached with a toothbrush alone. That is why flossing or cleaning interdentally daily is just as important in the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease.
So what products are available to clean in between your teeth? There is an array of options when shopping for dental cleaning tools. Floss and interdental brushes are the gold standard in most cases as they manually ‘disrupt’ the plaque that can wedge themselves in between your teeth.
Water flossers can be a good alternative for those who have prosthetic dental work (including crowns, bridges and dental implants) however for individuals with natural teeth, we recommend regular conventional floss or interdental brushes! Ask us at True Smiles Dental which interdental cleaning tool might be right for you.
7. Is teeth whitening Safe and what is the best way to whiten my teeth?
Yes, teeth whitening is safe when done correctly. We recommend to speak to a dental professional about any teeth whitening concerns to see what may work best for you. As there are different reasons for why your teeth may be discoloured. It is important to identify if whitening will be enough. Unfortunately, over the counter products such as the above-mentioned whitening toothpaste or charcoal toothpaste can be more abrasive to the tooth enamel resulting in the underlying dentine shining through. Funnily enough, this secondary layer of your tooth is actually yellow in colour which results in the opposite effect of brightening your smile.
Professional whitening under the guidance of a dental professional will allow you to achieve better, more realistic results. See our blog on teeth whitening for more information.
8. How often should I visit the dentist?
It is important to have your teeth checked and clean at least twice a year. Regular dental visits allow us to screen for early signs of dental decay, gum disease or even oral cancers. Unfortunately brushing and flossing alone is not enough to completely avoid these problems. There are often areas that can be missed despite our brushing and flossing efforts. Regular check up and cleans allow us to clean these areas up for you.
Is it time for your next dental check-up? Visit the friendly team at True Smiles Dental at 235 Marrickville Road, Marrickville NSW 2204 or call us on (02) 7228 7272.