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Now is not the time to have dental problems

May 2020

man brushing teeth

There is now talk about the UK’s 12,000 dental clinics re-opening. That won’t come soon enough for anyone unfortunate enough to have suffered problems with their teeth, or even worse, tooth ache, at this time.

In the last few weeks the general advice has been, if you have toothache, then you need to take painkillers and wait for the situation to improve. This can’t be easy for anyone with that dull throbbing invasive pain of toothache.  

The advice until the dentists reopen is, if you have a really bad problem that is intolerable and can’t be relieved, to call NHS111 for advice. If the pain really is intolerable, if you have severe bleeding or a mouth injury, then go to your local A&E.

In the meantime it makes sense for everyone to look at their dental hygiene and see if they can improve their regular cleaning to prevent problems building up.  It all sounds common sense of course, but when you consider recent figures given out with National Smile month indicated that nearly a third of adults are suffering from tooth decay and 66% have visible plaque, just checking out that we are brushing our teeth properly is probably a good thing.

Check your toothbrush.
Check your toothbrush. If the brushes are worn or frayed, it may well be time to buy a new one. There are lots of toothbrushes available now for quick delivery online. Look for a soft or medium bristle brush. It is easy to think harder bristles will do a better job, but this is not necessarily the case and too vigorous brushing with a really hard toothbrush could damage the enamel on the teeth. Choose a toothbrush with a fairly small head and with short and long round ended bristles for the best reach and brushing.

Electric toothbrushes are excellent and with their oscillating or rotating heads they do give a very good clean. Some people find it a lot easier to achieve a really good clean with an electric brush. However, these can get worn quite quickly, and the heads may need replacing perhaps every two or three months.

Toothpaste and fluoride.
Apart from those on special medication or with specific health problems, everyone is advised to use toothpaste with fluoride in it.  In some countries like America they add it to the water to help ensure their citizens have healthy teeth. Fluoride works because it helps tooth enamel. When bacteria breaks down sugar and carbohydrates in the mouth, it produces acid. This acid can eat away at the minerals in your tooth enamel, leaving the teeth vulnerable.  Fluoride helps to remineralize tooth enamel.

However, it is important to use a toothpaste that contains the right levels of fluoride. Generally, those containing 1,350 to 1,500 parts per million fluoride are best. You can find the amount of fluoride in the toothpaste on the side of the tube. Sometimes, if you are at particular risk of tooth decay, a dentist can recommend higher levels of fluoride.

Be aware that children under the age of three should use just a smear of toothpaste, and they certainly shouldn’t lick or eat toothpaste.

Twice a day brushing and don’t forget the backs of the teeth.
It is very important to brush your teeth regularly, at least two times a day including once before you go to bed. Allow proper time to do this. Many dentists say patients can go too fast and regularly miss spots.

Ideally you should try and brush your teeth with small circular motions mixed with short back and forth strokes. This helps to ensure you reach every part of each tooth. Don’t forget to do the back of the teeth with the same care as the front; just because you can’t see the backs doesn’t mean bacteria won’t get in.

Also it is a good idea to brush gently along the gum line as well to ensure all bacteria is removed.

After brushing, spit out any excess tooth paste but don’t rinse immediately as this will wash away the concentrated fluoride in any remaining toothpaste.

Flossing
This is now seen as an integral part of teeth cleaning and there are today lots of different products available to make this easier, from traditional dental floss and prethreaded flossers to water flossers and special little interdental brushes designed to go inbetween and round the teeth. Always take that extra time to floss.

Mouthwashes
There is a huge selection of mouthwashes now available offering a range of benefits including sweet smelling breath. Basically if you use a mouthwash that contains fluoride, then it can help prevent tooth decay. But it is best not to use it directly after brushing your teeth as it will wash away any concentrated fluoride that has been left on your teeth from your toothpaste. Instead, use the mouthwash as a supplement at other times of the day when you are not brushing your teeth; perhaps after lunch. Once you have rinsed with a fluoride mouthwash, it is best not to eat or drink for half an hour to let it have effect.

There is lots of additional advice online including at:

www.colgate.co.uk
www.dentalhealth.org.uk
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-keep-your-teeth-clean

Sensodyne offer an online check up on the health of your teeth:
https://www.sensodyne.co.uk/online-check-up.html

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