Oral hygiene myths debunked

June 1st, 2016

This month the Daily Mail enlisted the help of Dr Tariq Idrees, dentist and owner of the Carisbrook Dental Clinic in Manchester, to explore some of the most commonly held beliefs about how we should look after our teeth. Dr Idrees highlighted that, whilst we might think we’re taking positive steps to protect our smiles, the opposite may in fact be the case. In today’s article we’ll take a look at some of the most common myths and reveal the truth.

Whitening toothpastes – the media tells us that our teeth need to be pearly white. It’s therefore no wonder that we are attracted to whitening toothpastes. However these formulas can often be very bad for our teeth. Their contents mean that they are often abrasive and lead to the wearing down of enamel. This in turn can lead to long-term sensitivity and ironically could actually lead to the darkening of your teeth! If you are looking to lighten the shade of your teeth, speak to your dentist about safer options that can be offered in your dental surgery.

Rinsing – when you rinse your mouth out after brushing your teeth you are likely to be removing the fluoride that has been left on your teeth. This fluoride actually helps to protect your teeth and maintain your oral health, so it’s a good idea to leave it on your teeth as long as possible. Washing it away can reduce the effectiveness of brushing your teeth. It’s advisable not to eat or drink for at least half an hour after brushing your teeth too, as this enables the fluoride to stay and do it’s job for longer. Research has also looked into the effect of mouthwashes, and it has been found that some can be particularly harsh. It’s best to avoid if possible, and to not use more than a couple of times a day.

Electric toothbrushes – long heralded as a must in our quest for maintaining a perfect smile, electric toothbrushes might not actually be as helpful as we think. The effectiveness of the electric toothbrush lies in the technique. Brush too hard and you’ll wear away the sides of your teeth. You’ll also bend the bristles of the brush meaning that it’s not working properly. The majority of electric toothbrushes are designed so that you only need to touch your tooth with the bristles. Ask your dental hygienist to show you how to use your electric toothbrush more effectively.

Flossing – we’re all told to floss our teeth regularly. However, flossing with the wrong technique could damage your gums, and cause them to recede. Avoid using a sawing motion when you floss, rather aim to slide the floss gently up and down between your teeth.

Brushing too soon after eating – we all need to think carefully about when and how often we brush. It may seem that the more quickly we brush after certain foods, the more we can limit the negative impact of these foods. However this is not the case. Certain foods and drinks (for example wine, citrus or acidic fruits) can leave our teeth particularly vulnerable, and so it’s important not to brush straight after consuming these. Aim to wait for at least 30 minutes and your teeth will thank you for it.

The more informed you are about the best way to care for your teeth, the more likely you are to maintain good oral health and keep your perfect smile. For more information about the most commonly held misconceptions about oral hygiene, visit Dr Idrees’ article on the Daily Mail website.

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