THE GUM GARDEN

What is the best toothpaste to use?

Wait, we’ve had this question before! Lots of people are interested in learning about how to look after their teeth and gums. We recommend brushing twice per day for at least two minutes with any well-known fluoride toothpaste. You should also clean in between your teeth once per day with either floss or an interdental brush. Avoid sugary drinks or snacks in between mealtimes, particularly last thing at night. Finally, don’t forget to visit your dentist or periodontist for regular checks.

So it doesn’t matter what brand of toothpaste I use, as long as it contains fluoride?

Exactly. It probably doesn’t matter, as long as it’s from a reputable company. Your brushing technique is likely to be more important than the specific brand of toothpaste.

Is it better to use an electric or a manual toothbrush?

Electric toothbrushes are generally more efficient and easier to use, so they should do a better job than a manual brush. Nearly all electric brushes come with a built in timer (or even a smartphone app) to help you clean thoroughly.

A normal toothbrush can be effective, as long as you are using the correct technique. Please check with your periodontist or hygienist that you really are doing a good job. It’s surprisingly easy to miss some areas, which means that harmful bacteria can accumulate and cause inflammation or decay.

You mentioned floss. I hate using floss.

It’s important to clean between your teeth once per day to remove any deposits that your toothbrush can’t reach. Not just to remove food, but to remove the bacteria that build up naturally throughout the day.

For most people, interdental brushes are much easier to use than traditional floss. They will also do a better job of cleaning between your teeth. Ask your periodontist to show you the correct technique and help you choose the size.

Hmm. I think I’ll stick to mouthwash instead.

Unfortunately, mouthwash doesn’t remove bacteria as effectively as proper interdental cleaning. The bacteria in our mouths are very small, but they are sticky and won’t come off with a quick swish of mouthwash. They really need to be removed with a brush or floss. Mouthwashes can be helpful in some situations but they should not be used as a substitute for careful brushing.

Even if you are cleaning perfectly, your teeth can still be vulnerable to decay or erosion from sugary or acidic food and drinks.

That’s okay, I don’t eat sweets anyway.

Sugar is found in many different foods, not just the obvious sweet things. Even healthy snacks such as fresh fruit can contain large amounts of natural sugar. If consumed regularly, any sugar at all can cause your teeth to decay.

The safest way to protect your teeth is to avoid eating or drinking anything (apart from water or unsweetened drinks) between meals. This allows time for your teeth to recover from any possible damage.

So I have to give up my favourite snacks? What else do I have to stop doing?

Well, since you asked, you should seriously consider quitting smoking. Smoking is a significant cause of gum inflammation and oral cancer. And if bleeding gums, bad breath and loose teeth aren’t enough to persuade you, research has shown that gum disease is linked to many other serious medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Now, do you still hate flossing?

The Gum Gardener

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