World Oral Health Day is taking place with this year’s message being Act on Mouth Health. To mark the occasion, the Oral Health Foundation has compiled a list of five top tips to help us take steps towards a healthier and happier mouth.
1. Get ‘in-ter’ interdental brushing.
Brushing may come before flossing in the dictionary, but it shouldn’t when it comes to our teeth. Research shows that interdental cleaning before brushing is the best way to clean our teeth effectively.
The action of cleaning in between our teeth, using interdental brushes, dental floss or water or air flossers, loosens bacteria and food debris from between our teeth. This allows brushing to be much more successful at removing plaque. Studies show those of us who interdentally clean before brushing are left with a much cleaner mouth than those who did it afterwards.
Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, adds: “Using interdental brushes or flossing is a key part of any good oral health routine. By getting the areas in between our teeth, we can help keep gum disease and many other oral health problems at bay.”
Despite its effectiveness, many of us are yet to develop the habit of interdental cleaning. A study by the Oral Health Foundation also found that more than one in four (27%) of us admit to lying to our dentist about our flossing habits!1
2. Be a top brusher.
Brushing for two minutes last thing at night and at one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste is key to maintaining good oral health. Daily brushing is important because it removes plaque. If the plaque isn’t removed, it continues to build up, feeding on the bits of food left behind and causing tooth decay and gum disease.
Brushing our teeth twice a day may seem obvious but one in four (25%) of British adults still don’t do it, including a third of men2.
“Brushing our teeth for two minutes twice a day is something we often say we do every day, but statistics show that a lot us skip on this crucial part of good oral health,” adds Dr Carter. “Brushing our teeth should be top of our priority list when it comes to taking care of our health.”
3. Spit it out! But then don’t rinse.
After we have brushed our teeth, we should spit out the toothpaste. At this point, we might be tempted to rinse our mouth out, but if we do, we’ll be washing away the fluoride which continues to help protect the teeth.
Despite this, almost two in three of us (62%) rinse our mouth with water after brushing our teeth3.
Dr Carter says: “Fluoride is the single-most important ingredient in toothpaste. It greatly helps oral health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay.
“By spitting toothpaste out then not rinsing with water it ensures that the fluoride found in the majority of toothpastes will remain on the teeth and continue to be effective.”
4. Don’t be a dummy when it comes to your diet.
Diet can play a big part in our oral health. Eating sugary foods and drinking fizzy drinks both damage our teeth and leave them vulnerable to erosion and decay. Avoid snacking as this leads to more acid attacks on our teeth. Instead, keep sugar consumption to meal times only. If we do really need a snack, then stick to savoury snacks such as nuts or cheese.
Worryingly, one in five (20%) of us admit to regularly skipping meals and eating sugary snacks instead4.
Dr Carter adds: “It is better for our teeth and general health if we eat three meals a day instead of having seven-to-ten snacks. It’s important to have a healthy balanced diet and for our teeth it’s important to avoid sugar when we can.”
5. Don’t skip on the Dentist.
Our dentist shouldn’t just be there for when something goes wrong with our mouth. By having regular appointments, our dentist and hygienist can help us maintain a healthy mouth and keep oral disease at bay.
Despite the clear benefits of regular dental visits, as few as one in four (27%) of us only visit the dentist when we have a problem5.
“It’s important you visit the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend,” says Dr Carter. “Dental appointments shouldn’t just be made when you have a problem that needs to be addressed. Prevention is always better than needing a cure and a dentist can give you tailored advice on how best to look after your oral health at home.”
One final note…
Dr Carter adds: “The message of this year’s World Oral Health Day is ‘Act on Mouth Health’. It’s important that all of us are acting on having good oral health rather than simply reacting to problems.
“Having good oral health is so important and extends far beyond the health of our mouth. Numerous studies have linked poor oral health to a number of health problems such as diabetes, strokes and dementia.”