A Hygienist’s Guide To Looking After Your Teeth
A Hygienist’s Guide To Looking After Your Teeth

A Hygienist’s Guide To Looking After Your Teeth

The health of your teeth, gums and mouth can have a significant bearing on your overall wellbeing – something hygienist Lottie Manahan (@TeethByLottie on Instagram) knows a lot about. With close to half of us affected by oral diseases as a result of poor hygiene habits, we asked her to share her top oral care tips…
By Tor West

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Keeping your mouth healthy is linked to your overall health. We all know the importance of cleaning our teeth twice a day, regular flossing and regular hygienist appointments, but it’s less known that by keeping your teeth and gums healthy, you’re reducing your risk of health problems like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. As well as being a dental hygienist and therapist, I am also a biological dentist. That means I understand that the mouth and body are connected and that illness or disease that occurs inside the body is reflected orally, and vice versa. Stress, diet and sleep patterns all have a direct impact on oral inflammation and disease. 

It's more important than ever to maintain oral hygiene at home. Since the pandemic, dentistry demand has soared, and it can be difficult to get an NHS appointment now. So, looking after your teeth at home is paramount. Dental appointments are vital to check for early signs of infections or problems, but using a fluoride toothpaste, an electric toothbrush and flossing between your teeth twice a day will reduce the levels of bacteria in your mouth before it becomes harmful. Healthy gums are only possible when the bacteria in your mouth is disturbed (i.e. cleaned away) every day – not just at routine dental appointments. Get into the habit of seeing your hygienist every six months – prevention is better than cure. 

Brushing technique trumps time. The average adult in the UK brushes their teeth for 45 seconds – but this should be closer to two minutes to give you enough time to cover all surfaces. More complicated mouths, including fixed braces or crooked teeth, may require longer. The next time you’re at the hygienist, don’t be afraid to ask them to give you some pointers. They’ll also check your toothbrush, too – chances are you could replace the head or battery, or buy a new one entirely if it’s lost its power.

Stress, diet and sleep patterns all have a DIRECT IMPACT ON ORAL INFLAMMATION and disease.

An electric toothbrush is a no-brainer. The biggest mistake people make with their oral care is scrubbing with a manual toothbrush, which causes permanent enamel loss. If you’re using a manual toothbrush, you must use small, circular movements at a 45˚ angle touching both the tooth and gum along all surfaces in the mouth. Investing in a quality electric toothbrush will make this easier for you and offer a superior clean. Oscillating, rotating toothbrushes are my favourite and the style I recommend to my patients. Oral-B Io’s electric toothbrush is my go-to – it removes plaque like no other electric toothbrush. If you’re looking for a new electric toothbrush, make sure you buy one that has a pressure sensor to prevent damage to teeth and gums. 

You should be brushing your gums and tongue. Gums are arguably more important than your teeth – they are what hold your teeth in place. Brushing along the margin of the gum will disturb the bacteria that causes bleeding and inflammation. My top tip? Don’t be afraid to brush a bleeding gum, as the more you clean it, the quicker it will heal. Cleaning the tongue with a tongue scraper is also a fantastic way to keep the mouth feeling fresh. Using a metal reusable scraper is a sustainable option.

If you’re not flossing, start today. Not cleaning between your teeth is like getting in the shower and not washing your armpits, but worse. Your mouth is the portal to your entire body, and leaving bacteria in the mouth will contribute to health problems throughout the body. Flossing once a day will disturb bacteria while it’s young and not harmful (the longer it stays in the mouth, the cleverer and more destructive it becomes). If you’re a first-time flosser, start with Oral-B’s gum care floss picks. When you start flossing, you will notice some bleeding, and this is a good thing as it means you are disturbing unhealthy sites that require cleaning. Stick with it and the bleeding will subside within a few days as the gum heals. I’m also a fan of Cocofloss – a super-cleansing, exfoliating and coconut oil-infused dental floss. 

Your toothpaste should always contain fluoride. This may seem obvious, but not all toothpastes on the shelves have adequate levels of fluoride. Fluoride is essential to prevent cavities. Look for a toothpaste that contains stannous fluoride as studies have found this form of fluoride is particularly effective at fighting bacteria compared to sodium fluoride. Oral-B Pro Expert contains stannous fluoride and has a lovely, minty flavour. Brands like Euthymol and Marvis come in pretty packaging but they don’t contain fluoride, which could then cost you later down the line. 

Oral-B Io’s electric toothbrush is my go-to – it REMOVES PLAQUE LIKE NO OTHER electric toothbrush.

Sensitive teeth need more care. Sensitive teeth are increasingly common and can be very uncomfortable, affecting day-to-day life. Using a sensitive toothpaste morning and night, and then rubbing extra on the teeth like a cream before bed can help. Never rinse your toothpaste after brushing – instead just spit it out and leave it on to work its magic. If you’re really suffering, try BioMin F toothpaste, which slowly releases calcium, phosphate and an optimum level of fluoride for protection over a 12-hour period, whereas regular toothpastes are only effective with fluoride for around 90 minutes.

Whitening your teeth will instantly transform your smile. Whitening brightens the whole smile effortlessly and is relatively low-cost for the impact of the result. Whitening toothpastes will only remove surface stains, and some can be very abrasive, so approach with caution. Ask your hygienist about guided biofilm therapy – this is a relatively new treatment that removes stains and brightens the smile naturally using a gentle powder, warm water and air to clean the entire mouth. Between visits, I recommend patients use an electric toothbrush, and to swish with water after red wine, tea and coffee. 

You’ll be hearing more about the oral microbiome in the next few years. Like your gut, the mouth houses a diverse population of microorganisms known as the oral microbiome. The oral microbiome is the second most diverse habit on the human body, with more than 700 different species. The microorganisms that cover teeth create what’s called a biofilm (aka plaque), and some of these bacteria can be harmful. Signs your oral microbiome is out of balance include bad breath, bleeding gums and frequent tooth decay. If you notice any of these symptoms, book in for a hygienist appointment. 

For more information or to book an appointment with Lottie, visit TeethByLottie.com or follow her on Instagram @TeethByLottie. Lottie Manahan is an ambassador for Oral B.

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DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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