IF you brush your teeth straight after breakfast, drink bottled water and open chip packets with your teeth then you’re committing some of the 10 deadly sins of dentistry.
You might think a hard bristled brush removes more plaque from your teeth or that rinsing after brushing delivers a cleaner mouth, but you’re wrong.
The chairman of the Australin Dental Associations Oral Health Committee Dr Peter Alldritt explains ten common mistakes you’re making with your dental care.
1. BRUSHING TEETH AFTER BREAKFAST
Most people want to ensure they have fresh breath before work but brushing your teeth straight after breakfast can harm rather than help your teeth, says Dr Alldritt.
If you’ve had orange juice or fruit for breakfast the acid from that fruit softens the enamel on your teeth and if you brush too soon you could abrade the enamel.
You should wait until at least an hour after you’ve eaten before you attempt to brush, he says.
“That advice is if you’ve eaten something acidic, it does not apply if you’ve had bacon and eggs or cereal and milk,” says Dr Alldritt.
Socially most people won’t want to leave the house with the remnants of breakfast on their teeth so Dr Aldritt suggests reconsidering drinking fruit juice in the morning.
2. RINSING AFTER BRUSHING
You’ve cleaned your teeth and think a final rinse with water will wash off any final bits of food brushed off your teeth.
“Don’t do it,” says Dr Alldritt.
“When you rinse after brushing you’re washing off the good fluoride from the toothpaste left on your teeth and spitting out the excess,” he says.
“If you don’t rinse you’re giving yourself a mini fluoride treatment every day,” he says.
3. THE BEST TOOTHBRUSH
When you are removing dental disease causing plaque from your teeth you might think the harder the bristles, the better the job. Not so says Dr Alldritt.
“Hard bristle brushes are great for cleaning the grout in your bathroom but they are so damaging to gums,’ he says.
A hard bristled brush will abrade the gum tissue around the teeth and once it’s gone it doesn’t grow back.
“It’s not like hair, if you abrade your gums then your teeth are stuck like that forever,” says Dr Alldritt.
Once you’ve purchased a good soft brush make sure you change it every three months.
“Change your brush with every season and we also recommend changing your brush if you’ve had a cold or a flu because they can harbour viruses,” he says.
4. SNACKING AND YOUR TEETH
Your mother and your dietitian don’t want you to eat between meals to keep down you weight but snacking and grazing is not great for your teeth either.
“The problem is every time we eat bacteria in the mouth breaks down the food and creates acid,” says Dr Alldritt.
“Saliva neutralises the acid. If you eat something for lunch and get an acid attack, within an hour its neutralised, but if you have a snack all of a sudden you’re getting another acid attack and that is where the decay happens because the amount of acidity outweighs the amount of time your mouth is neutral,” he says.
That’s why he says eating ten lollies in one go is better for your teeth than eating one lolly an hour.
5. USING YOUR TEETH AS A TOOL
“Teeth are for smiling, eating and biting, don’t use them as a bottle opener or a tool,” says Dr Alldritt.
“People use them to open a chip packet. I saw someone last week who broke a tooth off doing that. Use a pair of scissors,” he says.
6. THE DENTAL DANGER OF DARK COLOURED DRINKS
If you crave a shiny white smile you must be careful what you drink.
“Dark drinks like cola drinks, tea, coffee, red wine even curries, have more potential to stain the teeth,” says Dr Alldritt.
Even green tea can stain the teeth, he says.
And beware carbonated drinks, even if they contain no sugar many contain acid created in the process of making the drink fizzy, he says.
It doesn’t matter if you floss before or after you brush.
Dr Alldritt says if you floss after you brush it can be educational “you see the stuff the brush didn’t get, it’s a mental reminder of how good flossing is,” he says.
“At the end of the day it’s a personal preference but given only 25 per cent of Australians floss daily I’d be jolly happy if they flossed at all,” he says.
When you do floss make sure you curve the floss around the teeth before moving the floss up and down. Flossing backwards and forwards through the tooth gap won’t get all the residue, he says.
8. HOW DRINKING BOTTLED WATER CAN DAMAGE YOUR TEETH
Australians spend over $621 million a year buying bottled water and we consume over 555 million litres of the stuff which adds to landfill and pollution.
But our bottled water habit is not just doing damage to our hip pockets and the environment, its hurting our teeth.
Most major towns and cities in Australia have fluoridated water on tap.
“Using tap water is not just cheaper, dentally it is much better because fluoride reduces tooth decay,” says Dr Alldritt.
9. GET A FITTED MOUTHGUARD FOR PLAYING SPORT
“One of the ways you can damage your teeth is by not wearing a mouthguard during sport,” says Dr Alldritt.
“A chemist mouthguard is not good enough, only a custom mad mouthguard provides adequate protection,” he says.
Standard mouth guards can loosen and be dislodged and give a false sense of security, he says.
10. BE AWARE OF HIDDEN SUGARS
We all know sugar is bad for our teeth but we may not realise it is hidden secretly in many “health” foods.
“We’re not only seeing this in increasing rates of diabetes, overweight and obesity we’re seeing it in the tooth decay rate,” says Dr Alldritt.
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