5 tips for better oral health

We all know (deep down) that we should take better care of our health, whether this be eating less calories or sugar, going to the gym more often, cutting down our drinking or smoking and eating more greens!

Do we ever REALLY do anything positive about these thoughts? Or simply leave them as a nice thought of, “yes, I really should do that at some point…..”

We’re not here to lecture you about your overall health, but we’re pretty sure most of you would like to be more healthy. So here are 5 top tips on how to help achieve and maintain a good overall level of Oral Health plus keep your teeth clean and healthy.

1. Brushing – Don’t Rush With Your Brush

This may seem the most obvious thing to be doing – but can we all honestly say this part of our day that we really pay attention to and prioritise?

The key to effective teeth brushing is to firstly ensure that you use the correct toothbrush – ideally an electric toothbrush. However, if you prefer a manual toothbrush, Dr. Fox would recommend a small brush, such as an Oral B 30 or equivalent.

Also, replacing your brush or brush head at least once every 8 to 10 weeks is essential to make sure you get that deep clean! We don’t want too many bugs growing on it after the 8/10 week mark….

Do you wet your brush? Well Dr. Fox advises to brush with a dry brush and toothpaste – the only time to wet your brush, is after you’ve finished brushing your teeth to wash off the saliva and toothpaste!

Lastly, follow the advice given on technique and timings by your dental hygienist. They have been highly trained and have loads of experience making them experts in their field. They know what they’re talking about!

2. In between Must be Clean

When looking at what contributes to poor Oral Health in our patients, more often than not we find that cleaning in between the teeth is neglected. Using interproximal brushes (like Tepes) and/or flossing is something that is overlooked or not known about, especially the benefits.

Dean & Hannah would recommend cleaning in between the teeth on a twice daily basis with a “TeePee” interdental brush. This gets the plaque out from deep between the teeth and this is essential in helping prevent tooth decay. This is probably the most important area to clean and is the main area where decay and gum disease occur.

3. Be Sugar Aware

Excessive sugar has long been associated with an increased risk of poor overall health, with an especially negative effect when it comes to children and older people. Various research articles point to poor Oral Health increasing the risk of a cardiac event (heart attack etc) in later life.

Cesar de Oliveira (and associates) conducted a study of 11,869 men and women investigating the the link between poor Oral Health and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease. They concluded: “Poor oral hygiene is associated with higher levels of risk of cardiovascular disease and low grade inflammation.”*

Reducing our consumption of sugar is really important when trying to improve our Oral Health. Excessive sugar consumption is certainly not good for our teeth, with increased risks of decay and gum problems.

However, all is not lost! There are some really useful tips and help out there, which everyone can use to their benefit. IOS and ANDROID phones have recently made the app “Sugar Smart” available to download for free, where you can scan the barcodes of foods you eat and measure their sugar content. There are also some foods that we generally wouldn’t associate with having a high sugar content, which actually do. Some examples are:

  • Fruit Smoothies
  • Bread
  • Yogurts
  • Salad Dressings
  • Pasta Sauces
  • Alcohol
  • Breakfast cereal and breakfast bars

Everyday items, that you would never think had high levels of sugar which is why it’s important to always read the label.

4. Reduce or Eliminate Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

There are various lifestyle choices we make, which have a negative impact on our Oral Health. The two most common ones are drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco. 65% of Oral Cancers in the UK are directly linked to smoking.

Further to this, if you drink alcohol you are 32% more likely to suffer from Oral Cancer (according to Cancer Research UK)**. People who drink alcohol AND smoke are 3 times more likely than anyone else to be diagnosed with Oral Cancer. We also know how much everyone LOVES eating their vegetables – which is great, as this can reduce your risk of Oral Cancer by 34% or 48% by eating plenty of fruit!

The simple and subtle changes can often lead to the biggest reduction in risk – something we can all control during our day to day lives.

5. Visit Your Dentist & Hygiene Team on a Regularly Basis

Regular visits to the see your Dentist and their Hygiene team are really important when it comes to ensuring you have a healthy mouth. Here at Hartley, we don’t like to lecture our patients, rather guide and inform them, through examples and evidence based observations over many years of experience. We ensure we have the time to have these conversations and make them as plain and easy to understand as possible. Adopting a preventative approach to our Oral Health is also really important – we don’t want people just coming to see us when they have pain or a problem, we want them to be happy with their oral health and their overall health.

Sources:

* = http://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c2451.

** = http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/oral-cancer/risk-factors#heading-Twenty-Three