Updated Dental Care – apologies to my children

Like most of us I was taught (and taught my kids) to brush their teeth after meals, at least twice per day. Apparently modern dental science has updated the optimal care and it is no longer necessary and possibly harmful to brush your teeth straight after eating.

Here are new guidelines:

Don’t brush your teeth straight after eating.  Chewing food stresses the enamel coating on teeth and it takes several hours of bathing in saliva for the coating to be restored. Brushing within this time-frame is a second episode of stress on the weakened tooth protection system. Wait at least a couple of hours following eating.

Use a circular action electric toothbrush. Most of us are too vigorous with a manual brush and can damage the gum line.

Apply the toothbrush to the gums not to the teeth. Brushing the gums stimulates blood flow and ensures you access the deeper crevices. The teeth will be flushed with the run-off (like a shower) and be cleaned without insult.

Once a day is enough for brushing. Seriously? Yes. The damage to teeth and gums is due to bacteria on the surface. The bacteria take several days to mature and begin to damage the tooth structure. Provided you brush well within the two to three day window you can remove immature bacteria before damage is done.

Your tooth care routine should take around four minutes. This includes a couple of minutes of picking and flossing followed by two minutes of gentle, circular brushing and rinsing. Dislodge the food scraps first then brush them away.

Mouthwashes (antiseptic or fresheners) are a well marketed but unnecessary part of the dental hygiene routine. Spend your money on a better toothbrush.

See your dentist at least once per year for a super clean and inspection. Then stick to the four minutes per day routine to maintain a quality mouth environment.

Special sensitive toothpaste does work to reduce sensitivity but is often very abrasive. Better to brush with regular toothpaste then when finished apply a small smear of the sensitive past to your gums using a finger. Then rinse.

There you go – an update based on current dental science. So, apologies to my children for being a ‘Tooth Nazi’ – turns out I was a bit over the top.

Craig Allingham
Men’s Health

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