15 Nov How should I look after my teeth and gums?
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy have huge benefits, especially if you would like to keep your teeth for life! No longer do we think of losing teeth as we get older, they really can last us, but only if we look after them. Good dental hygiene is at the basis of this and if you are already a regular attender our dental hygienist will have discussed a personalised preventive plan for you than includes your very own dental hygiene routine.
Let’s discuss brushing first. There are lots of techniques when it comes to tooth brushing, some tell you to brush up and down, some side to side and some in circular motion. The reality is that all of these methods are correct but there may well be a method that is better for you. We recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day using a suitable sized toothbrush – not too big – and use fluoride toothpaste.
We do recommend electric toothbrushes (see our blog on electric and manual brushes)and if you are thinking of buying one then do ask at your next appointment with your dentist or dental hygienist which model would be suitable for you. There are lots of different models available and it can be quite confusing, also some types are not advised depending on the type of dental work you may have in your mouth.
It is also important to cleanse between the teeth, where they contact the tooth next door. We advise several interdental cleansing methods, floss, tape, interdental brushes or a water jet.
Interdental cleansing is much trickier and it is worth getting the advice from our dental hygienist, Anita, on which method is the best for you. Shewill also help show you how to do this.
For our patients who have dental implants a water jet can be a good solution to cleanse around the implants. Again you will be guided by our dental hygienist as to which technique is more suitable for you. A water jet or an air flosser can also be used if you don’t have implants and can be a good interdental cleansing method if you struggle using dental floss/tape. However, beware, water jets are messy!! Don’t use a water jet once you are ready for the day, better to use it before you have your morning shower or last thing at night. Water jets are great, though, at gentle and thorough cleansing just using water.
How do I know if I have removed all the plaque and debris off my teeth, my hygienist tells me I am not removing it all?
This is very common, we think we have removed all the plaque but because some of it is invisible we are unaware. In this case, it is quite a good idea to purchase some plaque disclosing tablets. You chew a tablet and then rinse out your mouth before brushing. The tablet will stain where the plaque is present and then it is a matter of just brushing until all the stain is removed. Warning though!!! Do not do this before heading out somewhere, it could take you longer than you thought to clean all the plaque away and your tongue will also be stained from the dye.
Do I need to clean my tongue?
Yes, just like the teeth, the tongue can collect plaque and look coated. Getting into the habit of regularly brushing your tongue will help keep the level of plaque and bacteria down in the mouth and will help keep your breath sweet smelling.
Any brush will do for this, or you can buy a tongue scraper.
Which toothpaste should I use and do I need a mouthwash?
We recommend that you use a fluoride containing toothpaste. Fluoride helps strengthen your teeth and help protect them from decay and it can also help in reversing early areas of decay. Most toothpastes have a fluoride content of 1000 ppm (part per million) and this will suffice for most. If you have a very high level of decay then your dentist may recommend a stronger fluoride toothpaste but these are not available to purchase generally – they are prescription only.
There are all sorts of other ingredients in toothpaste, to help keep teeth whiter, to reduce bacteria, and these can be helpful but we feel the most important ingredient in toothpaste is fluoride.
Mouthwashes are also a bit confusing and many of them just often mask an underlying problem so unless your dentist or dental hygienist particularly recommends you use a mouthwash, then you may be wiser saving your money.
We look forward to seeing you and helping guide you to find the right dental hygiene routine to help you keep teeth for life.
Dr Ali Rifai
The Gentle Dental