Illustration by Daria Krikunova.
Good oral health involves more than just brushing your teeth. To keep your teeth and mouth healthy for a lifetime, we have put together a couple of tips and tricks on how you can improve your dental wellness with any of these steps.
Use a toothpaste with fluoride
Toothpaste is not just about flavour! Brushing your teeth thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste is one of the most effective ways of preventing tooth decay. A range of toothpaste is available containing different levels of fluoride. Recommended by NHS, children under 3 years should brush twice a day, with a smear of toothpaste containing at least 1000ppm fluoride. Children between 3 and 6 years old should brush at least twice a day with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing more than 1000ppm fluoride. Adults should brush at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing from 1450 to 1500ppm fluoride (1).
Protect your toothbrush
Take good care of your toothbrush, remember you put it in your mouth every day! Most people don't think about their toothbrush storage, however, there are some mistakes that can put your dental health at risk. The most unknown mistake is to store your toothbrush near the toilet. If you have a relatively small bathroom and a powerful water flush toilet, your toothbrush may be regularly exposed to contaminated water. One study (2) has found that a flushing toilet can expel microorganisms as far as 2.7 feet (82 cm). However, the microbiology community`s consensus is that toilet spray can spread around 6 feet (182cm) after every flush (3).
Spit, don't rinse
Once you have brushed your teeth, don't rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash. You are washing away the fluoride that is there to protect the teeth during the day. This can be a difficult habit to break but can reduce tooth decay by up to 25%. So, spit, rather than rinse after brushing to avoid washing away the benefits (4).
Floss, floss, floss
Brushing cleans only 60-65% of the tooth's surface, and that's why you need to get in between those teeth too. If you have very tight-fitting teeth, flossing will be your best friend. However, if you have space between your teeth, you should use interdental brushes. If you are not sure which size you should use, consult with your hygienist (5).
Make use of your mouthwash
Mouthwash just may be the cherry on the top. Mouthwash is nice for refreshing up on the go, when traveling, or during the day, but mouthwashes containing fluoride can also help protect cavities. Besides, vigorously rinsing with mouthwash can also loosen food particles between teeth that can contribute to cavities and gum disease. Don’t use it instead of toothbrushing but it can be a useful addition to your oral hygiene routine.
Don't forget your tongue
Debris, bacteria, and dead cells can build up on your tongue over time. This can lead to bad breath and harm your overall oral health. Gently brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth. By using a toothbrush or a tongue scraper can help you to improve your sense of taste, the appearance of your tongue, remove bacteria, and improve overall health (6).
Switch to sugar-free gum
Sugar-free gum is the accessory of dental care which can freshen your breath and reduce your risk of cavities. Chewing gum regularly, especially after meals, can help improve your oral health, but only if you choose the right type of gum. Choosing sugar-free gum over regular chewing gum will have a positive impact on your oral health. The benefits you receive when you chew sugar-free gum includes increased saliva production which makes your mouth less hospitable for plaque (7), reduces the development of gingivitis, strengthens teeth by remineralising and helps the digestion (8).
1. Fluoride. NHS, UK. 2019. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/fluoride/
2.The potential spread of infection caused by aerosol contamination of surfaces after flushing a domestic toilet. 2005. Journal of applied microbiology. Available at: https://sfamjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2672.2005.02610.x
3. Yes, Poop Particles Spray Into the Air When You Flush the Toilet. 2018. Available at:https://www.self.com/story/toilet-plume-poop-spray
4. Dental interventions to prevent caries in children.2014. Health Improvement Scotland. Available at: https://www.sign.ac.uk/assets/sign138.pdf
5. Flossing. Australian Dental Association. 2019. Available at: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Younger-Adults-18-30/flossing
6. Five reasons to scrape your tongue and how to do it. Healthline. 2019. Available at:https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/tongue-scraping#benefits
7. 5 Reasons to Opt for Sugar-Free Gum. 2019. Available at: https://www.interdent.com/gentle-dental/resources/5-reasons-to-opt-for-sugar-free-gum/
8. Regular vs. Sugar-free gum: What's the difference?. 2019. Available at: https://verovipdental.com/regular_vs_sugarfree_gum/