In the third and final article in our myth buster series, we examine a few more grey areas associated with our daily dental habits.
Myth Number One : How frequently should you change your toothbrush? – Bristling with Tide!
Every three months use either a new toothbrush or change the head of your electric toothbrush. This is necessary to prevent an excess build-up of bacteria from your mouth in the bristles.
Always ensure that your brush is storied in a clean, dry place, not on the side of a washbasin, where it could be contaminated by people washing their hands especially when the basin is in close proximity to the loo.
If this isn’t possible, you may want to regularly sterilize the brush head using special disinfecting sprays or ultraviolet light boxes. If the bristles on your brush start to splay then discard your brush straight away. If this happens within 3 months you may be brushing your teeth too hard.
Myth Number Two : Why do teeth go yellow? – The staining of the guard!
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 can’t be brushed off that easily but can be lightened with professional teeth whitening products.
Myth Number Three : When gums bleed is this a sign of over brushing? – Brush up on your brushing!
If gums bleed it is more likely to be due to either gingivitis or early stage gum disease (late stage gum disease often causes no bleeding or pain).
Over-zealous brushing will damage teeth through tooth abrasion. Abrasion is usually characterised by round or V-like lesions at the neck of the teeth and wears away enamel, exposing the dentine, which surrounds the entire pulp of the tooth and can lead to cavities.
Receding gums are not always inevitable, though they are very likely after a lifetime of incorrect brushing and bouts of gum disease. Another error is to use wide, side-to-side strokes across the backs or fronts of the teeth, which can cause abrasion and may cause you to miss areas. Instead, hold your brush at a 45- degree angle to your gums and make small circular motions.
Myth Number Four: What is worse for staining teeth- Tea or Coffee? – Storm in a teacup?
Tannin in tea is a far more powerful staining agent than caffeine in coffee. If you have ever noticed what tea can do to the inside of a white porcelain cup, then that is precisely what’s accumulating on your teeth enamel. You only need 3 or 4 cups of tea, daily and the staining process will begin.
Coffee contains tannins too but in lower amounts. You need to drink at least five or six cups of black coffee before teeth staining starts to make an impact. White coffee will also stain teeth but is less concentrated, so the effect is less compared with the same amount of tea. Staining from coffee is very superficial, just affecting the biofilm and not penetrating the enamel itself.
Ultimately exercising good daily teeth cleaning habits will minimise the risk of staining, but reducing your beverage intake can only help good oral hygiene.
Myth Number Five: Are there toothpastes that work while you sleep? – Let sleeping teeth lie!
With normal toothpaste, the fluoride will stay on teeth for around two hours. There are some new toothpastes available on the market, however, where the fluoride in suspended in particles that stick to the teeth for up to 12 hours protecting your teeth during your slumber period.
This new toothpaste is called BioMinF and works by slowly releasing calcium and phosphate. These minerals work together to replace and strengthen the enamel. Re-mineralising toothpaste in this way makes teeth more resistant to attack from acidic drinks such as fruit juice.
With any fluoride toothpaste, the rule of thumb is to spit and not rinse. As it is always better to spit out the excess toothpaste and retain as much of the fluoride and other therapeutic ingredients to maximise the benefit of your product.
This futuristic topic leads us nicely to the next series of articles regarding the future of dentistry, which will be available next month.