Not a day goes by where we go to our washroom and think to ourselves, “Today’s the day I’m not going to brush my teeth.” No, that’s not how it works. We learned at an early age to brush our teeth twice a day, morning and evening, for two minutes. It’s really not a hard task, and a lot of people will affirm they do it when asked by their dentist. So, why is it then that dentists are telling these same people they need a filling? In reality, not enough of us are practicing good dental habits. Brushing your teeth is just the starting point for taking care of your teeth. There’s so much more you need to be doing if you are looking to avoid having to get one or more fillings every time you go to the dentist.
Spreading toothpaste on your toothbrush and mindlessly moving your toothbrush around inside your mouth for two minutes is easy. However, you’re not really doing anything to help your teeth out at all if you don’t know what you’re doing with your toothbrush. Brushing is meant to help remove very sticky dental plaque off the surface of your teeth and food remnants lodged in between. If you’re not brushing thoroughly, plaque will develop into tartar, which isn’t possible to get rid of without the help of your dentist. In turn, tartar can eat away at your teeth nonchalantly and progress into a cavity.
There are two motions to use when brushing your teeth. Brush in small, circular motions across the surface of your teeth, and use short, vertical strokes when addressing the back side of your teeth. Make sure you go over every single tooth 10-15 times. If you do this for every tooth, you will be around the two minute mark. Make sure you’re not brushing long afterwards, as that will lead to enamel abrasion.
Beyond learning how to brush your teeth the right way, it helps if you switch from a regular toothbrush to an electric one. Electric toothbrushes are more proactive at reaching awkward corners in your mouth and do the small circular motions for you. Plus, they eliminate the damage done to your gums and teeth generally caused by normal toothbrushes.
Fluoride toothpaste is a primary ingredient in fighting tooth decay. There is plenty of evidence that shows fluoride aids in the remineralization of teeth, thus making them stronger. If you ever read over the ingredients of the back of your toothpaste, you’ll notice the concentration of fluoride within the tube. Generally, you want to be using a toothpaste with a 1350-1500 ppmF (concentration of fluoride in parts per million) to fight against tooth decay. In some cases, your dentist may even prescribe you a higher strength fluoride toothpaste for you to use.
One trend that’s popped up recently is charcoal toothpaste. Influencers and dentists alike are saying how charcoal toothpaste helps whiten teeth, lift stains and pull tartar away from the teeth. However, there have been incidents where charcoal toothpaste actually diminishes the layer of enamel protecting teeth, which is exactly the opposite of what brushing your teeth with toothpaste is meant to do. It’s only a suggestion but stick to fluoride toothpaste rather than follow a trend that may or may not be worse for your teeth.
There’s a reason why you have to brush your teeth not once, but twice a day. At night, you produce a lot less saliva than you do during the day. As a result, your teeth have minimum protection from the effects of acid lingering around after dark. If you’re not brushing your teeth at night, bacteria are going to feast all night long, excreting acid which will hurt your teeth more than anything.
Brush your teeth before bed. This should always be the case; doing so will remove any lodged food between your teeth and give bacteria very little to work with. Make sure to not rinse with water or mouthwash, as you’ll wash away the fluoride. Instead, spit out your toothpaste. It can be a weird habit to break, but it can decrease your chance of tooth decay up to 25%. On top of it all, do not eat or drink anything but water for the rest of the night after brushing your teeth. This allows fluoride now covering the surface of your teeth the greatest opportunity to do its work.
Sugars fall into one of two categories – intrinsic and added/free sugars. Intrinsic sugars are natural sugars most common in fruits. Free sugars, on the other hand, are sugars added to foods by manufacturers. This includes any commercial honey, syrup and fruit juices.
The World Health Organization and NHS agree that free sugars should make up less than equal to 5% of your daily calorie intake. For the average adult, that limits you to about 30g of sugar a day. To compare, a standard can of Coca-Cola has 35g of sugar. That’s already more than the amount of sugar you need.
Keep in mind, simple carbohydrates like sugar break down into acid really easily by bacteria. That makes it important to moderate how often you eat sugary foods as well. Your teeth can take up to 4 “sugar hits”, or episodes of sugar intake a day without irreversible damage to your teeth. Do yourself a favor and start counting how many sugar hits you have a day. You’ll be surprised by the number. One simple way of cutting down the number to 4 or lower is to stop putting sugar into your hot drinks and limit the snacking.
Hopefully these are dental habits that you pick up and incorporate into your routine. Taking care of your teeth isn’t that hard, but it does require effort on your part. Maybe the next time you go to the dentist, you won’t have to get a filling!
For more information, or to schedule a dental appointment with Atlantic Dental Group, be sure to fill our our online appointment form or call us at (562) 567-0498.