National Smile Month runs from Monday, May 18 to Thursday, June 18 and so to keep your pearly whites looking well… pearly, we’ve enlisted expert Christina Chatfield, hygienist and owner of Dental Health Spa in Brighton, to share her top tips to have you smiling through lockdown!
Christina says: ‘The health of your mouth plays a really important role in your general health and wellbeing and so keeping your routine of twice daily toothbrushing and cleaning between your teeth once a day is more important now than it ever was. Discover the connections between the health of your mouth your general health here
A Healthy Smile for a Healthy Body!
The health of your mouth is often seen as a separate issue from that of general health but by optimising our dental health we can make a significant impact on our wellbeing.
There are over 700 different types of bacteria that live in the human mouth (both good and bad). At any one time you may have up to 10 billion bacteria in your mouth, which is about two billion more than you will find on the average toilet seat!
Over the last ten years there has been an increasing body of evidence to show an association between oral health and general health, particularly diseases and conditions such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, obesity and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Gum (periodontal) disease causes tooth loss and can also affect the rest of the body.
The presence of bacteria under the gums means that bacteria can pass into the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body causing systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is the common denominator between oral health and other diseases and research shows the successful treatment of periodontal disease reduces markers of overall systemic inflammation, improves blood sugar control in diabetes and reduces the risk of cardio-vascular disease
Mechanical removal of bacteria is the most important aspect of your oral care routine, remove the bacteria that are responsible for both decay and gum disease. Therefore a good oral hygiene regimen can mean more than just a perfect smile:
1) Brush your teeth when you first get out of bed and before you get back in at night. They’re the two most crucial times, that’s because saliva (which keeps cavity-causing bacterial plaque off teeth) dries up at night, so it’s best to brush the teeth before you go to bed. Have you ever thought what the bacteria in your mouth are up to whilst you are sleeping? They have been multiplying and, just like we are, by the time that we wake up they are pretty hungry. The bacteria in our mouths feed on the carbohydrate (the sugars) in the foods we eat and turns it into acids which cause decay, unless you brush some of the bacteria away in the morning, there will be thousands of them waiting to tuck into your breakfast with you… Brushing is down to technique whether you use power or manual, however Electric Toothbrushes are proven to be better than manual, improving technique and time taken. Choose a power toothbrush with a two-minute timer and brush twice daily .
2) Interdental cleaning: Clean in between your teeth using little bottle brushes eg TePes or floss. Your hygienist or dentist can advise you on size, one size does not fit all. People often miss this part because they find getting into the routine hard, so they overcompensate by brushing harder or more often. It’s a bit like having a car and cleaning it over and over on the outside, it will not clean the boot but might damage the outside. The bacteria that hide in between your teeth lie there undisturbed and become more offensive in terms of smell and the damage to both the teeth and gums.
3) Toothpaste: Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps to harden enamel and reduces your risk of decay. If you choose to use toothpaste without fluoride you need to balance that against the risk of decay plus reduce all sugars in your diet and have the best possible mechanical cleaning. You should brush your teeth and spit the toothpaste and and not rinse afterwards.
4) Mouthrinsing: Follow your oral hygiene routine by rinsing with a mouthwash, which not only makes your mouth taste great but also helps to eliminate any debris left after cleaning. A mouthwash that contains fluoride will also help protect the teeth from decay. Listerine Total with Zinc has four essential oils in it, and as an antimicrobial will help to eliminate harmful bacteria. This is not used to replace the mechanical action of toothbrushing and interdental cleaning but to give incremental benefit. Additional it should be used separately to your brushing, e.g. leave 30 minutes after brushing or rinse at a separate time.
5) Clean your tongue: We all suffer with bad breath from time to time and in about 85% of cases, the bad odour comes from the mouth. The bacteria that sit on the surface of the tongue can be a major contributor to bad breath. Scraping with a tongue scraper or simply brushing with a standard toothbrush will greatly reduce the bacteria that cause bad breath.
6) Throw away your toothbrush... or change the head of your electric toothbrush at least every two to three months. Otherwise, you’re just transferring bacteria in your mouth. Plus a splayed out brush is ineffective in the hard to reach areas and is likely to just buff the surface of the tooth it touches.
7) Diet: Limit sugary food to meal times, bacteria in dental plaque change sugars into acids. Limit acidic drinks like soft drinks, cordials and fruit juices. Food acids soften tooth material and dissolve the minerals in tooth enamel, causing holes (cavities or caries). In severe cases, teeth may be ‘eaten’ right down to the gum. Having a healthier diet and drinking plenty water can improve gum health too. Do not brush directly after you have eaten or have had something to drink because the surfaces of the teeth are softened and further damage or wear will occur.
For more info on Dental Health Spa, visit: www.dentalhealthspa.com
For more info on National Smile Month, see the website here: