how to keep your teeth for life

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“After eating or drinking something containing sugar, drink some water or rinse your mouth with water -but wait before brushing teeth,” advises Chinotti. “Drinks that are acidic and also contain sugar – soft drink, juice, sports drinks, energy drinks, wine and some kombuchas – mount a two-pronged acid attack that softens tooth enamel. Besides the drink’s acidity, more acid is produced by bacteria feeding on the sugar. It can take at least an hour for teeth to recover from acid attacks – brushing too soon can damage the enamel.”

Rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth.

Spit into the bathroom basin after brushing – but don’t rinse, says Mikaela Chinotti. “Not rinsing means leaving a layer of toothpaste on your teeth that provides longer lasting protection from decay – providing you use a fluoride toothpaste.”

Brushing once a day is enough.

One in five of us only brushes once daily – but you need to brush twice to effectively remove plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that builds up on teeth through the day, Chinotti says.

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Will electric toothbrushes do this better?

“They can be more effective, but some people brush just as well with a manual – it can depend on technique and manual dexterity. Your dentist can tell you how well you’re brushing – if your technique isn’t effective, a different type of brush might make a difference. ”

A toothbrush is all I need to keep teeth and gums healthy.

Toothbrushes can’t reach between teeth, and any lingering plaque can lead to gum disease and decay. Around 75 per cent of us rarely or never clean between teeth, ADA surveys reveal, yet using floss or interdental brushes daily goes a long way towards keeping teeth for life – and keeping breath fresh, says Chinotti.

“Either floss or interdental brushes will do the job but interdental brushes are good if you have spaces between your teeth,” she says.

Any toothpaste will do – it’s the brushing that counts.

“Unless toothpaste contains fluoride, it may not give optimum protection – a large body of evidence shows that fluoride prevents tooth decay and is an important ingredient in toothpaste,” says Chinotti.

Charcoal toothpaste can whiten teeth.

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It might do the opposite. Charcoal particles can build up in the grooves of teeth or on white fillings, according to a 2019 report in The British Dental Journal. For anyone with gum disease, there’s potential for these particles to collect under the gums, causing discolouration. The report also found that most charcoal toothpastes don’t contain fluoride and that the charcoal in some products was abrasive enough to cause wear and tear on tooth enamel.

Oil pulling keeps teeth white and prevents decay.

Removing bacteria and whitening teeth are among the claims made for swishing a tablespoon of oil around the mouth for 15 to 20 minutes.

But research into oil pulling’s benefits is still limited, says the University of Queensland’s Professor Do.

“There’s some evidence that it may help reduce gingivitis but no evidence that it whitens teeth or reduces decay. ”

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