Here are some more oral hygiene conundrums to get your teeth into!
Apologies for the pun, but in our second article we continue to lift the lid on whether some of our daily dental habits fall into the fact or fantasy category!
Myth Number One : Should I chew gum to reduce plaque? – A man’s got to chew what a man’s got to chew!
After each meal that you eat, a residue of acid is produced by plaque bacteria and the sugars in food and drink. Chewing sugar-free gum especially after lunch, can help to create a protective barrier around your teeth, which can contribute to good oral hygiene.
Did You Know?
Chewing gum triggers the production of buffering saliva, which is alkaline and helps to neutralise the acid, which in turn helps to re-mineralise or harden the teeth. It is worth mentioning though that 20 minutes of chewing is sufficient, as any more can put strain on the temporomandibular joint in the jaw and cause an aching pain.
One lesser known fact is that eating a small amount of cheese/diary, also increases production of alkaline saliva and creates a protective barrier around teeth. Not recommended late at night though as it may lead to nightmares about your cardio vascular health!
Myth Number Two : Is a toothpick better than floss? – Don’t pick a bone with your teeth?
Using a toothpick should never take the place of flossing or brushing your teeth. They are simply an option for removing food that has stuck in your teeth after eating a meal.
Some people think using a toothpick at the table is a breach of etiquette, so you might want to wait until you are alone before breaking out your toothpick. Rarely do you see someone flossing at a table, although the sight of people secretly and subtly disguising the trajectory of a toothpick to an affected area is quite common place… especially in carnivorous restaurants!
Vigorous and continued use of a toothpick is a “no-no” as it can cause damage to delicate gums, particularly if you have sensitive or receding gums. Toothpicks are also too wide and are often forced between narrow gaps in teeth, causing the enamel to wear away over time. You can also give yourself a nasty jab in the gum, and regular use can potentially lead to gum disease.
There are some good products available which are less abrasive and a good alternative to wooden toothpicks called Tepe Easy Picks: These are both convenient to carry and subtle to use and ideal to use when you are out and about in restaurants and need to promptly deal with food packing.
Myth Number Three : What is better for your teeth, dental floss or tape? – Can there be other strings attached?
Whilst interdental brushes are still undoubtedly the most effective way of removing plaque as highlighted in our first article, the pros and cons of “floss” versus “tape”
The current majority view suggests that tape is preferred to floss for maintaining healthy teeth. It is usually more effective as it is broader and has a slightly rough surface which helps to loosen tartar. Tape is also a better option for anyone with bridgework and wider-than-average space between their teeth, especially where interdental brushes are still too big.
Waxed floss though can be easier to slide between closely spaced teeth
Unwaxed floss often “squeaks” against cleaned teeth, indicating plaque has been removed, creating that “feel good factor!”
Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss, but does tear more than waxed floss.
In short, the best way to floss may be to use tape! Although there is no hard and fast answer to this one as it ultimately depends upon your mouth, personal preference and your dentist’s or hygienist’s recommendations.
Myth Number Four : Does teeth whitening toothpaste work? – A white elephant or a white lie?
Teeth may look white but they are more of an opal colour, with a slightly bluey tinge. The surface layer is translucent enamel and beneath that is dentine, hard tissue which forms the bulk of the tooth, which is yellow in colour.
Teeth gradually discolour over time because the dentine absorbs the colour of all the things in your diet. This is difficult to “brush off” but it can be lightened with professional teeth whitening products.
The daily stains are removed along with some healthy enamel which, in the long term reveals the natural yellow colour of the underlying dentine. It is far better to let your hygienist remove the discoloration — from tea, coffee or red wine by scaling, during your routine check-up.
Currently, toothpaste for whitening teeth may not be the flavour of the month because many contain ingredients that act like scourers.
Legally within the UK products can only be sold over the counter containing up to 0.1% hydrogen peroxide, this concentration is far too low for any real noticeable effects on the colour of their teeth. Products of higher strength (up to 6%) can only be prescribed or sold by dentists and in this case premium whitening systems such as Enlighten Whitening are recommended.
Myth Number Five: Is daily rinsing with Coconut Oil good practice? Deciding between a lovely bunch of choppers or coconuts!
This is derived from the ancient Ayurvedic medicines that date back over 3,000 years and is being rekindled as a popular alternative therapy. It is called “Oil Pulling” and is thought to be a more natural way to reduce bacteria in the mouth.
The procedure involves rinsing (swishing) approximately one tablespoon of oil around in your mouth. As the oil hits your teeth and gums, microbes are picked up as though they are being drawn to a powerful magnet. Bacteria hiding under crevices in the gums and in pores and tubules within the teeth are sucked out of their hiding places and held firmly in the solution.
There are no scientific studies to support the efficacy of this treatment and dentists are sceptical as to its use. This cannot replace routine dental visits and traditional at-home oral care, such as tooth brushing and is actively discouraged.