There’s no excuse for not smiling your brightest smile! Dr Georgios Sotiropoulos shares his top dental care tips and advice with us.
- Your dental care routine should consist of thorough tooth brushing and flossing in the morning after breakfast and at night before bed. Your dentist was right, flossing is important to get to those areas between your teeth that can’t be cleaned by brushing alone.
- Brushing should take at least 2 minutes — try and brush with small circular strokes with the brush aimed at 45 degrees to where the tooth and gum meet.
- Keeping teeth white means a good daily oral care routine, healthy diet and lifestyle and limiting tea, coffee, smoking, red wine, soft drink consumption, and having regular professional preventive dental care at your dentist. No easy task!
- Choosing the right manual toothbrush should be simple, but all the options can make this quite overwhelming. Generally, you should choose a compact head with soft, good quality round-ended bristles in a cross-action pattern. Don’t go for a hard brush, it can end up damaging teeth and gums.
- Rotary action or oscillating electric brushes are very effective and can be more efficient at removing plaque than manual brushes. Children, and adults with limited dexterity, may be better off with an electric brush.
- Food and drinks that are high in sugar and acid should be limited, especially between meals, to maintain healthy teeth. Soft drinks and sports drinks are extremely damaging if consumed frequently, as are wine, citrus-based juices, and citrus infused teas. ‘A common mistake is that people have a diet soft drink, thinking that because it has low or no sugar it’s better for their dental health. This isn’t true, because instead of sugar, they usually contain high concentrations of food acids and can be even more erosive and damaging than sugary soft drinks,’ Dr Sotiropoulos advises.
How should you floss?
- Flossing is done by carefully sliding floss into the triangular space between teeth and wiping or gliding it against and down the side of one tooth all the way to just under the gum.
- Then, lift the floss slightly and wipe it against and down the side of the other tooth until it reaches under the gum. Pull it through to leave a clean gap. This should be done for every gap.
‘I once was asked by a patient whether they should floss all their teeth, and my reply was “only the ones you want to keep”. Flossing is extremely important because it removes plaque from the area between teeth, which is a high-risk area for tooth decay and gum disease, and can’t be cleaned by brushing and mouthwashes alone,’ advises Dr Sotiropoulos.
Is using a mouthwash important?
- Dentists usually consider mouthwashes additional to proper brushing and flossing. If you do use them, just remember they don’t compensate for a thorough brush and floss – you can achieve excellent oral health and hygiene with brushing and flossing alone, but not with mouthwash alone.
- A simple natural home preparation of 1:2 table salt and bicarbonate of soda mixed with water can be just as effective as many types of mouthwash.
What should you keep in mind when it comes to keeping your gums, tongue and teeth healthy?
- Keep gums healthy with brushing and flossing as well as a healthy balanced diet containing fruit, vegetables, enough iron and plenty of water (ideally fluoridated water straight from the tap).
- It’s becoming widely recognised that saliva plays a very important role in gum and oral health, and staying well hydrated is a simple yet effective way to maintain naturally good gum health.
- The surface of the tongue is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, especially if you’re a smoker, consume lots of alcohol or are sick. Tongue cleaners can be effective for a diet rich in fibre and roughage, because textured food can keep the tongue surface clean.
How often should you see the dentist?
- Everyone should see a dentist at least once a year. Most dental disease is best treated by prevention or in its earliest stages. Because most of us wouldn’t notice the signs of early tooth decay and gum disease it’s important to visit your dental professional.
- People who drink non-fluoridated water or who suffer from medical conditions that increase their risk of dental problems should visit their dentist every six months or as often as advised by their dentist.
What about managing teeth sensitivity?
- Teeth sensitivity is triggered when the underlying layer of your teeth, called dentine, is exposed, allowing external stimuli — for example hot, cold, or sweet food — to irritate the nerve in your tooth.
- Sensitive teeth can be caused by thinning of the overlying enamel through abrasion and erosion, or heavy wear through grinding and clenching.
- Sensitivity can be alleviated by limiting how many damaging acidic drinks you consume, especially soft drinks, sports drinks, wine, vinegar, lemon and fruit juices, and gently brushing with a soft toothbrush. In addition, using a toothpaste designed to manage sensitivity can give temporary relief. In advanced cases, a dentist may need to repair or resurface teeth that have suffered too much enamel loss.