Wait a little while after eating before you brush.
Brushing our teeth regularly is the very foundation of good oral health, and is something that we regularly remind our patients about to help them keep their teeth and gums healthy.
Without doing this, it won’t matter how healthily we eat or how often we see the dentist, and is almost certain to result in tooth decay. Even if we currently brush our teeth twice a day though, there is every chance that we may not be doing it as well as we should be.
Before we move on to the main topic of this blog, it is worth reminding our Clapham dental patients of a few basic rules when brushing.
- Use a brush with bristles in good condition. This means replacing the brush every three months or so
- Make sure that your toothpaste contains fluoride. This helps to strengthen the protective enamel on your teeth
- Make sure you clean your gums too, and angle the brush approximately 45 degrees towards the gums so that the gum pockets are cleaned
- Don’t rinse afterwards, but allow the toothpaste to remain on your teeth. This helps fluoride absorption
- Floss your teeth too. This helps to remove food and bacteria from those hard to reach spaces between your teeth.
Why wait before you brush your teeth?
If we choose to brush our teeth straight after eating; whilst it may freshen our mouths, it also catches our teeth at a time when they are more vulnerable. Although probably not widely known, our teeth soften slightly after we eat. This is caused by a loss of minerals such as calcium and phosphate, important components of our tooth enamel.
Brushing immediately after eating will remove even more of these minerals and make it more difficult for our teeth to remineralise afterwards. If done regularly over a period of time, the enamel on our teeth will become thinner and may cause problems such as tooth sensitivity and even decay. It is best to leave approximately half an hour before we brush.
Helping the remineralisation process
The reality is that the more efficient the remineralisation process, the better protected our teeth are likely to be. There are a couple of ways that we can help to improve this process, in addition to waiting around half an hour after eating before we brush our teeth.
Saliva is a valuable asset and something that some older people especially may not produce sufficient of. It contains not only water, but also minerals, including, you’ve guessed it, calcium and phosphate. Helping to keep a healthy saliva flow through staying hydrated is beneficial for our teeth both to help our teeth remineralise and also to flush away food and bacteria that can cause decay and gum disease.
One easy and enjoyable thing that you can do to help your teeth is to eat a small amount of cheese at the end of the meal. This helps to not only produce saliva, but also to counterbalance the acid environment in our mouth after we have eaten. This more alkaline environment helps to minimise the risk of acid erosion.
There are also a number of remineralisation toothpastes that are available. These can help to restore your teeth, although if you follow the above advice, you will probably not need to use them.
It goes without saying that you will still need to see your dentist every six months or so for a check up, to make sure that all is well. You can make an appointment to see your dentist at the Confidental Clinic, by calling our Clapham practice on 020 7801 9060.
As this will almost certainly be the last dental blog of this year, please allow us to take the opportunity to wish all of our patients a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. We look forward to seeing you in 2019.