We all know that flossing is the star of the show when it comes to oral health. But a new study in The Journal of The American Dental Association found the key to good flossing is to match your floss to your teeth.
TIP: If you have rough fillings, use waxed floss. If you have bigger spaces between your teeth go for braided floss. Lucky enough to have normal teeth? Go with unwaxed floss, as the friction will pull out more plaque, according to guidelines set by the American Dental Association. As for technique, when the string squeaks, you know the plaque is gone.
If you think you are being virtuous by forgoing a cup of builder’s in favour of a fruit tea, you might have to think again. New research has found that the acid in fruit teas can be three times more damaging than orange juice – the arch-enemy of healthy teeth. Lemon, grapefruit and blackberry teas were found to be the worst culprits in the study, carried out by the University of Bristol Dental School.
TIP: A cup of black tea can actually be good for your teeth because it contains compounds called polyphenols, which attach plaque-forming bacteria and suppress plaque accumulation. Opt for green tea if you’re worried about staining – it works just as well.
New research shows that cranberries contain a compound that stops bacteria clinging to the teeth, blocking the formation of plaque deposits. Cranberry tea also makes an excellent mouth rinse after food, according to the study by the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York.
TIP: If you’re on the run and can’t brush, eat some cranberries. But remember – many cranberry drinks are loaded with sugar, which could eradicate the benefits.
If your meal isn’t complete without a sweet, it’s worth remembering that sugary things make the pH level of your saliva nosedive, transforming the plaque on your teeth into an aggressive, tooth-dissolving acid.
TIP: If you follow your dessert with a chunk of Cheddar, your pH level will remain steady, according to a study by Nutrition Review.
If you’ve got a chocolate habit and alleviate the guilt by brushing your teeth straight after eating, it’s time to reassess. Your mouth is normally alkaline, but after eating or drinking, it becomes slightly acid, causing the enamel surface of your teeth to soften. Brushing them at this point means your teeth are much more vulnerable to damage.
TIP: Wait for 30 minutes after eating before brushing to allow alkaline levels to normalise.
It’s not just your teeth that need looking after; bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease. This is because bacteria from the mouth get into the bloodstream where it encourages fatty deposits to cling to the inside of the arteries, limiting blood flow. People with gum disease are almost twice more likely to have coronary artery disease than those without gum disease. And there are strong links between oral health and a range of other serious health conditions too, including respiratory disease, strokes and diabetes.
TIP: Reduce your risk by brushing your gum line as well as your teeth.
Be warned: not all mouthwash is a bonus to your oral routine. A recent study in the Australian Dental Journal found that mouthwashes containing alcohol are linked to an increased risk of mouth cancer. The theory is that alcohol makes it easier for cancer-causing carcinogens to permeate the mouth lining. Be aware that mouthwashes can contain as much as 27% alcohol.
TIP: Opt for alcohol-free brands.