WHETHER you think you have healthy teeth or not, reviewing your oral health between visits to the dentist by following these expert tips from Australian Dental Association Oral Health Committee chair Professor David Manton, can help keep you smiling.
Which type of toothbrush - manual vs electric?
- A soft brush is best, with the head of the brush not too large. For those people with dexterity difficulty, the handle should be as thick as possible.
- The evidence suggests that powered brushes do as well or better than manual brushes. The powered brushes also tend to have a larger and thicker handle, that may be of some advantage. The downside to most powered brushes is the cost of them.
When to brush
- Teeth should be brushed twice per day with a fluoridated toothpaste.
How should we brush?
- Brushing should cover all tooth surfaces in a gentle rotating motion, with the brush at 45 degrees to the gum line - avoid a scrubbing action.
What should we brush with?
- Adult toothpaste should be used in individuals who are not at high risk of decay. For those who are at high risk, your dentist may recommend a high strength toothpaste such as a 5000 parts per million fluoride paste (Neutrafluor 5000®) and a crème that helps strengthen teeth such as Tooth Mousse®.
Should we be using mouthrinse?
- A mouthrinse containing fluoride can decrease decay rates, but if it is being used in conjunction with other fluoridated products, its efficacy may not be great. Your dentist can advise you about this.
- Other mouthrinses, such as those with an alcohol base, may have some benefits in the short term, however, be careful with long term use.
- Specific mouthrinses, such as chlorhexidine based rinses, have targeted uses, such if you have a gum infection. Once again, these mouthrinses should only be used short term as they can eventually stain the teeth and often change taste perception with long term use.
- Mouthrinses have specific uses, so they should be used according to need - your dentist can advise.
Should we use floss?
- Interdental cleaning is important, and can be done using floss, interdental brushes and interdental sticks
- Often the easiest way to floss is to buy flossettes - these have a small length of floss attached to a plastic handle, often with an interdental stick at the other end.
- The floss should be moved between the teeth gently, so as not to damage the gum tissues - once between the teeth, the floss should be moved up and doNNews#18!wn against the tooth surfaces.
- Flossing once per day is fantastic, but less frequently also can have a positive effect on gum health and decay rates - just don't only do it when something gets stuck between your teeth.
What should we ask our dentist to do?
- Your dentist should give you a thorough check over each recall examination. This should include teeth, gums and the soft tissues (tongue, cheeks, etc), as well as checking your saliva, especially if you feel as though you have a dry mouth.
General dental health tips
Two main issues arise with oral health - dental caries (decay) and periodontal disease (gum disease).
Regular brushing and flossing, eating a diet low in sugars, limiting snacking and regular dental check-ups can limit the effects of these two diseases, however, there are other potential problems that should be looked out for -
- oral cancer (especially among smokers and drinkers),
- tooth erosion caused by drinking or eating acidic foods and drinks, and
- dry mouth (often caused by medications). Dry mouth is important as it increases decay risk greatly, and can also mean foods stick around in the mouth a lot longer.