We have recently seen many stories in the media relating to the health benefits of reducing the amount of sugar in our diets. One of the health benefits is dentally focused since refined carbohydrate is one of the major causative factors of tooth decay (caries) which according to recent WHO statistics, is the number one disease on the planet in terms of numbers of global population affected.
There are actually a number of other simple techniques that anyone can use to massively tip the balance away from caries and towards dental health.
The first one is incredible simple – brush TWICE daily (morning before breakfast and last thing at night) with any fluoride containing toothpaste (whichever one you like the taste of!) – and MOST importantly, once finished brushing, spit the toothpaste out but DO NOT rinse with water. Fluoride is your best friend in decay prevention, it makes your tooth enamel more resistant to caries and by not rinsing with water after brushing, the fluoride levels in your mouth stay much higher for a lot longer. As a useful additional step, if you get the chance at lunchtime, rinse for 1 minute with a fluoride mouthwash (available over the counter or at your dental practice) after eating and again, do not rinse with water afterwards. For patients who suffer from a dry mouth, usually due to medication, it is sometimes advisable to use a high fluoride containing tooth paste and this can be supplied on prescription from ourselves.
Secondly, try chewing gum or sucking mints containing XYLITOL up to 4 times daily. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener which has the excellent property of inhibiting the action of bacteria that cause dental caries. Therefore, using this regularly throughout the day has a clinically significant anti-caries effect. You need to look at the product labels carefully thought to make sure that they do contain Xylitol.
Lastly, in addition to good brushing, you need to clean in between your teeth daily using either dental floss or interdental brushes (e.g. Tepe brushes). Removing plaque is essential in preventing caries and gum disease and as 35% of the surface area of a tooth sits in between the teeth, extra effort is always necessary to get to those hard to reach areas.
Believe it or not, most dentists (myself included) would rather not have to place fillings as we have found that patients don’t really enjoy it much and in this department, prevention is definitely better than cure!
Until next time, remember fluoride is your friend 🙂