Are you confident that you’re doing everything you can to look after your oral health? Do you brush twice a day for a minimum of 2 minutes, floss, use interdentals and a GumSaver brush, and have a 6 monthly check up with your dentist? Well you may be doing better than 1 in 4 adults* who don’t brush their teeth twice a day, but you might be able to do better still…
Looking after your teeth and gums isn’t just about a good oral hygiene routine, it’s also about the things we do between brushing. Here are 5 mistakes to avoid.
5 Oral Health Mistakes
#1: Snacking on sugary foods between meals
This one’s a big one! Those cakes, muffins, biscuits, sweets and fizzy drinks are not good for your oral health. The problem is not just the sugar, although that’s a significant issue, it’s also the introduction of any food between meals that interrupts your mouth’s natural defences. After a meal your mouth produces salvia that neutralises the acid that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. This can take up to two hours, but if you snack between meals your mouth never has a chance to complete the process.
#2: Takeaway coffees
The UK has falling in love with coffee in the last few years; no high street is complete without a Starbucks, Costa, Neros or independent equivalent. However, all this coffee is not necessarily a good thing for our oral health, or waistlines. Unless you take your coffee black, you’re also consuming milk (which contains sugars) and possibly adding more refined sugar too. Although some research suggests that black coffee has antioxidant properties that may reduce the risk of gum disease, these studies are small and inconclusive. The boom in takeaway coffee sales also shows higher sales for cappuccinos, lattes and sweetened products, than black coffee. Furthermore, too much coffee can also cause dehydration and a dry mouth; we need salvia to protect our teeth and gums.
#3: Not Drinking Water
While many people do drink plenty of water throughout the day, timing is everything! Instead of having a cappuccino at the end of a meal a better choice would be a glass of water to rinse away the food particles, sugars and bacteria in your mouth. Water also helps with the production of salvia, which as we know neutralises acid and protects our teeth and gums.
#4: Not Brushing Your Teeth At Bedtime
Even if you are brushing your teeth twice a day a glass of milk at bedtime, or anything else, will not do your oral health any favours. During our sleep we produce a lot less salvia – many of us wake up in the morning with a dry mouth – so those opportunistic bacteria have a field day when our defences are down. Ideally you should brush your teeth before bedtime with a fluoride toothpaste and avoid rinsing afterwards. Rinsing washes away the fluoride and dilutes its’ affect.
#5: Not Replacing Your Toothbrush Often Enough
I’m going to presume that you have a good brushing technique, reaching all the areas of your mouth, cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth and gently brushing your gums. But when was the last time you replaced your toothbrush? Wear and tear reduces its’ efficiency so replacing it every three months, or when it shows signs of wear, will ensure that your excellent brushing technique is effective. 1 in 5 UK adults* can’t remember when they last replaced their toothbrush, which suggests they’re not replacing them enough!
So here are my tips for better oral health, things you can action today!
- If you want to enjoy a cake or other sweet treat, have it as dessert when you have lunch or your evening meal,
- Similarly enjoy a coffee or fizzy drink with a meal but drink green tea or water in between,
- Finish meals with a glass of water and if you do have a snack, wash away the food particles immediately afterwards with water,
- Last thing before you go to bed, brush your teeth thoroughly – try not to rinse afterwards,
- Stock up on toothbrushes so you have them to hand when yours needs replacing.
If you have any questions about your oral health you can leave a comment below, but if you’re concerned about your teeth and gums book an appointment with your dentist.