Unlike the Easter bunny, whose teeth grow continually, our adult teeth are permanent and stop growing once they have emerged from the gums. Tooth decay is the world’s most common health condition, so taking proper care is essential if you wish to keep them. Here’s expert advice on how to maintain healthy teeth, even when there are so many high-sugar Easter treats on offer.
“Dental decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth, known as plaque, breaks down food releasing acid which erodes the teeth,” says Dirna Grobbelaar, Ivohealth’s oral hygiene advisor. “If plaque is not removed it will cause tooth decay and gum disease.”
The most effective way to remove plaque is to simply clean the teeth, brushing correctly at least twice a day. Ideally use a soft-bristled brush, which won’t damage the gums, and thoroughly clean all three tooth surfaces (top, front and back). To help you brush for the full two minutes (as recommended by dentists), use a timer, an app or a brush with a built-in timer, like the Philips Sonicare powerbrush.
Daily cleaning in-between is essential and should start once the teeth begin to touch, usually from around age two. Floss is not everyone’s first choice, but these days there are plenty of options; Sunstar GUM has a huge range of interdental tools, including Soft-Picks (high-tech toothpicks), interdental brushes and floss handles. Or look an irrigator that directs jets of water between the teeth. The Panasonic Oral Irrigator is good, especially for people with implants or orthodontic braces.
Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet. On the whole, it’s best to avoid sugary foods and drinks. When you do occasionally indulge, don’t brush immediately, as the sugar will have temporarily softened your tooth’s enamel. Rather rinse with water or an alcohol-free mouthwash, like Dentyl Dual Action, immediately after. Wait an hour or so before brushing.
How often you eat is another factor. From a dental perspective, a brief fluctuation in pH balance is better than a continual bombardment. Regular meals or a single choc-fest is actually better for your teeth than eating small snacks and treats throughout the day.
Last, but not least, a professional clean with the oral hygienist every six months and a check-up with the dentist each year will ensure any problems are picked up before they become serious.
For more expert advice speak to your dentist or oral hygienist.