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Patient advice 

ORAL HYGIENE AND DIET ADVICE

Effective regular cleaning of your teeth is vital in preventing gum disease and tooth decay.

What we eat and drink is the other major factor involved in the development of tooth decay and erosion.

Brushing

The following advice should be suitable for most patients, but always ask your dentist for advice on the best toothbrush and brushing technique for you.

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening for at least two minutes each time with a suitable. At Ribble Dental we recommend the Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush as the ideal brush for most people. There are also good electric brushes from Braun and Oral B. f you prefer a manual toothbrush it should have medium textured bristles. Squeeze a small amount (about the size of pea) of fluoride toothpaste onto your brush.

Cleaning should be done in a methodical way so that no areas are missed. One good method is to start on one side of the mouth and start by cleaning the outer surface of each tooth in turn. Then move on to clean the biting surfaces and finally the inner surfaces. Pay particular attention to the areas close to the gums which are often missed. If an area bleeds whilst brushing it is a good idea to spend more time on this area for the next week or so. The bleeding should gradually reduce over time with improved brushing. If it persists please bring it to the attention of your dentist at your next check up.

Flossing / Interdental brushes

Teeth should be flossed daily to clean the areas that brushing cannot get to. These are the areas between the teeth which will otherwise trap food debris and plaque which can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath.

A quick search on Google for “how to floss” provides helpful video clips if you are not sure how to floss.
Remove approximately 30cms from the packet and wrap either end around your index fingers until there is a taut section which you can slide between each of your teeth. Slide the floss between each tooth gently firstly up and down one surface of the tooth then again on the adjacent surface of the tooth.

There may be some bleeding the first few times you floss .This is normal and will fade away as the gums get used to being cleaned in this way and become healthier.

Interdental brushes are an excellent alternative to floss which many people find easier to use. They look like little bottle brushes and are simply slid between the teeth to clean these areas. They come in a variety of sizes. Please ask your dentist who will be happy to demonstate their use and advise you on the correct size. We recommend using the TEPE brand of interdental brushes.

Diet advice

Tooth decay

Even if you clean your teeth thoroughly between meals, tooth decay will still occur if you consume sugary snacks or sugary drinks at frequent intervals.

The sugars combine with bacteria in plaque to form acids which attack the tooth enamel and damage it.

The mouth has a natural defense in the form of saliva this neutralizes acid within the mouth after eating but this process takes approximately 20 minutes to 2 hours to take effect. Therefore it is the frequency of sugary substances consumed that determines whether the surface of the tooth (enamel) can repair itself.

To help protect your teeth from decay, try following these steps:

  • Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste approximately 20 minutes after eating
  • Floss your teeth every day
  • Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production
  • Avoid eating/drinking anything containing sugar between meals
  • Reduce your consumption of foods containing sugar
  • Use a fluoride containing mouthwash

Tooth erosion

An increasing problem in the United Kingdom is the erosion of teeth by acidic foods and drinks. This is not related to sugar but to the direct action of acid on teeth.

The most severe damage tends to be seen in patients who drink a lot of fizzy drinks especially cola drinks (diet versions are no better in this respect). Damage is also seen from excessive consumption of citrus fruits and drinks such as fresh orange juice or some smoothies.

Ask your dentist for advice at your next check up. At Ribble Dental our dentists routinely check your teeth for signs of acidic erosion and will inform you and discuss it if apparent.