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Planning Retirement Online

There is more to cleaning teeth
than a toothbrush

July 2016

Who remembers the dentist of their childhood using mercury in dental fillings? It was common practice for dentists to give children a weird shiny drop of mercury to play with to reassure them before undertaking dental work.

This is one area where things have progressed fabulously. Today with new products and techniques together with vastly improved knowledge about how to look after teeth properly, teeth really should last a lifetime.

Along with information and all the improvements in dental practices, toothpastes and brushes, flossing is a key addition in today’s armoury of tooth care.

The importance of flossing can easily be overlooked because it can be tricky, take time and there is rarely any visible benefit.  But in fact flossing does about 40% of the work needed to remove the sticky bacteria or plaque from teeth which can irritate the gums and cause gum disease plus tooth cavities.  Floss is the only way to really get into the space between the teeth and remove bacteria.

While most flosses are made of nylon or Teflon, there are lots of different flosses available today. Waxed versions are popular because they do not fray and glide easily between the teeth, but it can cost a little more. For results, waxed and non waxed floss  are both similarly effective. Some types of dental floss contain antibacterial agents such as sodium fluoride, but the main factor to consider when choosing floss is its shape…floss is sold in different widths and shapes.

Dental tape is a type of floss that is wider and flatter than conventional floss and it is probably best to get your hygienist’s or dentist’s advice on the best floss for your teeth.

Most of us use far too short strands of floss which make it very difficult to clean our teeth effectively.
This video gives a clear idea of the length of floss you need to make it work properly, and there are other video aids on the internet too...

Today you can also buy special plastic wands carefully designed to hold floss and this saves winding the floss around your fingers which some people find difficult or dislike. But wands can make it awkward to reach back teeth and clean properly at difficult angles. You can also buy Super Floss which has one stiff end which helps to move the floss through the teeth before cleaning the space with the regular spongier thread further down the floss. This can be really helpful for people with bridges.

Interdental brushes are now a popular way to floss between teeth. These little brushes come in a range of widths appropriate to the gaps between your teeth, and most people need two or three different widths to clean all the spaces effectively.

There is lots of information about interdental brushes here.

Now it seems you can also have bacteria on your tongue, and tongue cleaners are becoming available.
These are especially useful if you suffer from bad breath as 90% of this is caused by odour-generating residue on the top of your tongue.

Colgate say you can brush your tongue with your regular brush but the problem here is that the bristles designed to clean the smooth surfaces of your teeth won’t work effectively on the rougher creviced surface of your tongue. A study in the Journal of Periodontology has shown that while a toothbrush can reduce the surface compounds on a tongue by 45 per cent, a special tongue scraper can reduce it by 75%.

Modern tongue scrapers are easy to use,  you simply place the tool on the back of your tongue and gently pull forward; then rinse.

More information is available here.


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