12 Dental Rules Everyone Should Follow

12 Dental Rules Everyone Should Follow

It’s pretty shocking to realise half the UK population are affected by oral diseases as a result of poor hygiene habits. With that statistic in mind, we went to three dental experts to get to the bottom of what we should be doing, the common mistakes we all make and the habits we should all avoid. Here’s what they told us…

Brush Before Breakfast 

“People still question this, but brushing your teeth pre-breakfast ensures all the bacteria that has accumulated during sleep is removed before you start eating,” explains cosmetic dental surgeon Dr Krystyna Wilczynski. “In short, this means anything you eat or drink has less plaque to adhere to, resulting in less staining and decay build-up. It’s so important, not least because it coats your teeth in a layer of fluoride to prevent tooth decay.” 

Floss, Floss, & Floss Again

“You’d be amazed how many people have never picked up floss or interdental brushes,” add Dr Lisa and Dr Vanessa, Founders of Spotlight Oral Care. “As a rule, use either each night. It’s the easiest way to get rid of small pieces of food that get wedged between your teeth – especially the back of the lower teeth which are often neglected. This area has one of the biggest salivary gland openings, too, so there’s a lot of mineral saliva and tartar (yellow or brown stains) that builds up." 

Don’t Neglect Your Tongue 

“Your tongue harbours plenty of bugs, bacteria and plaque,” says Dr Krystyna. “It’s important that it's scraped or brushed regularly to avoid build-up, which can cause bad breath and unbalance the flora in the mouth. You only need to do this once or twice a week, and most electric brushes have a setting for it now, but if you’re using a manual one, gently rub it over your tongue in soft, circular motions for the same effect.” 

Stop Over-Rinsing 

“After you brush your teeth, don’t reach for the mouthwash straight away,” advise Dr Lisa and Dr Vanessa. “This is something a lot of us do, but you must leave your toothpaste to work for at least 15 minutes. If you’re rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash right away, you’re rinsing away the toothpaste’s long-lasting effects, and any fluoride before it begins its re-mineralising process.” 

Skip Alcohol-Based Mouthwash

“Mouthwash that contains alcohol can actually dry out the mouth, leaving it more susceptible to bacterial growth and bad breath,” claims leading celebrity dentist, Dr Marques. “Use a mouthwash that is high in fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel, but avoid those that contain harsh or abrasive chemicals,” he says. 

Work On Your Technique

“Stick to the twice a day rule, brushing morning and night. No matter how tired you are, never neglect your night-time brushing, otherwise bacteria and plaque will accumulate and cause problems,” advises Dr Krystyna. “As for actual technique, take a systematic approach so you don’t miss a spot. Work through each quarter of your mouth: start by brushing the outside surface nearest the cheek, then the inside surface near the palate or tongue, and then brush the surface of top of the teeth. Try and get right between the gums and teeth, too. Finally, keep brushing for two to three minutes.” 

Use A Light Hand 

“Once you’ve nailed the technique, make sure you’re using a light-handed approach,” add Dr Lisa and Dr Vanessa. “You need to be brushing your teeth lightly, right up to where your tooth meets the gum, using gentle, circular motions. It’s important to try and find a soft bristle which is less abrasive to keep sensitivity to a minimum, too." 

Dry Your Toothbrush

"Ensure your toothbrush is dry before placing it back in a cosmetic bag or travel case: “If you don’t allow your toothbrush to air-dry after brushing, bacteria can multiply rapidly on the moist bristles,” says Dr Marques – especially in the warmer weather. 

Avoid Charcoal & ‘Natural’ Toothpastes 

“It’s worrying how popular these have become as the use of charcoal in toothpaste is actually damaging to the teeth,” say Dr Lisa and Dr Vanessa. “Charcoal is abrasive and will wear down the enamel, in turn creating a yellow hue. As for toothpastes that don’t contain active ingredients, these won’t effectively clean your teeth or prevent tooth decay. It’s key to avoid any toothpastes that have grit or roughness as this will cause enamel to wear down and contribute to darkening of your teeth. Instead, look for formulations that contain fluoride – these will strengthen the teeth and reduce tooth decay by up to 50%.” 

Limit Sugary Snacks 

“It’s an age-old rule but it still stands true,” advises Dr Krystyna. “Sugar from sweets or fizzy drinks can rot the teeth and cause decay, so really, these should be kept to an occasional treat when possible. It’s not the only thing that can disrupt your teeth between meals, either. Fruit acids can cause damage, too, so it’s advisable that if you are going to eat something sweet, try and do it with a main meal.” 

Be Careful With Tooth Whitening 

“At-home teeth whitening systems can cause a lot of sensitivity and damage,” advise Dr Lisa and Dr Vanessa. “For that reason, it’s really important to be extra careful about what you use to whiten your teeth. By using a clinically proven system that gradually brightens your teeth safely, you can avoid sharp sensitivity. It’s why we created our Spotlight Whitening Strips back in 2016. There wasn’t anything on the market containing an active whitening ingredient which we felt like recommending to our patients.”

See A Hygienist Regularly

“You should be getting your teeth cleaned professionally at least twice a year,” say Dr Lisa and Dr Vanessa. “There’s always going to be plaque and tartar that you simply can’t brush off yourself. By visiting a dental hygienist, you can avoid common issues like cavities, tooth decay and further tooth loss. If you have braces, consult your dentist to see how often you require a deep-clean. The same goes for general check-ups – never leave a problem too long before you make an appointment. By booking in straight away, whatever the problem is, it can be minimised to avoid extraction. It’s as important as visiting your GP.”

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