The way you brush your teeth makes a huge difference. Brushing mechanically removes dental plaque, a sticky mixture of bacteria and their acids, as well as sticky food residues. The plaque forms on your teeth after eating, but it doesn’t become harmful until it has reached a certain maturity stage. It is not known how long it takes, but at least 12 hours.
As bacteria consume sugar, they produce acid, which dissolves minerals from the teeth and leaves microscopic holes that we cannot see. These small holes can grow into large, visible ones if the process is not stopped or repaired.
Cavities are caused by untreated tooth decay and require a filling. Sergii Kuchugurnyi/Shutterstock
Brushing your teeth for two minutes is an effective way to remove plaque. It would help if you did this at night and once more daily. Brushing your teeth frequently prevents the bacteria from developing to the point where they can produce acid.
Electric toothbrushes are more efficient than manual brushes. A small head makes it easier to reach difficult areas of the mouth. Medium-textured bristles allow you to clean your teeth and gums without harming them. It is important to brush your teeth!
Use fluoride toothpaste to reduce the risk of cancer
The toothpaste is the main ingredient that provides most of the benefits. Fluoride is the key ingredient, as has been shown to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is a mineral that replaces minerals lost in teeth. It also strengthens them.
To get the maximum benefit from fluoride, use toothpaste that contains 1350-1500 parts per million (ppmF ).
You can check the concentration of your toothpaste by looking at the ingredients listed on the tube. Some children’s toothpaste do not contain enough fluoride to provide maximum benefit. If your dentist determines that you or your child is at risk for tooth decay, they may prescribe a stronger fluoride toothpaste.
Plaque can be difficult to detect because it’s whitish, like your teeth. In supermarkets and pharmacies, revealing tablets make plaque visible and show areas that you might have missed while brushing.
A tablet that reveals the plaque in bright pink is used. Weakiva/Shutterstock
Spit and don’t Rinse
You produce less saliva at night than you do during the day. Your teeth are less protected by saliva and more susceptible to acid attacks. It’s therefore important to remove any food particles from your teeth prior to going to bed so that plaque bacteria cannot feast on them overnight. After brushing your teeth at night , do not eat or drink any other liquid than water. It also allows fluoride to have the longest chance of working.
After brushing, do not rinse with mouthwash or water. You’re washing the fluoride away! It can be difficult to break this habit, but it can lower tooth decay by as much as 25%.
Four’sugar-hits’ is the maximum.
Free Sugars are added sugars that are not naturally present in food. Honey, syrup, and fruit juices are also free sugars.
All of these are easy for bacteria and other microorganisms to digest, metabolize, and produce acid from. It can be hard to determine which sugars are bad for your teeth. Fruit juices, for example, contain sugar released from plant cells, and excessive consumption can lead to tooth decay.
World Health Organization and NHS both recommend that free sugars shouldn’t make up more than 5% of your daily caloric intake. What does that look like? This is about 30g of sugar a day for adults and children older than 11 years.
A 330ml Coke can contains 35g sugar. The Change4life app can be used to monitor how much sugar is consumed in your diet.
A hot drink with no sugar can help you cut back on your sugar intake. Eviart/Shutterstock
How often you consume sugar is important, but not as much as the amount. Bacteria can digest simple carbohydrates more easily than complex carbohydrates or proteins. After bacteria metabolize the sugar, they produce acids that cause demineralization.
Fluoride toothpaste can help to remineralize your teeth and stop the initial stages of this attack. You can think of it as balancing a scale – sugars are on one side and fluoride toothpaste on the other.
Read more: Children’s toothpaste: the facts.
Typically, your teeth can be exposed to four “sugar hits” – episodes of sugar intake – daily without irreversible damage to the teeth. Why not try counting how many sugary hits you have a day? This includes biscuits, cups of sugary tea or coffee, and other snacks with refined carbohydrates like crisps. A simple way of cutting down would be to stop putting sugar in hot drinks and limiting snacking.
Brush twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste. Spit, don’t rinse. Eat and drink nothing immediately after brushing. And don’t consume sugar more than four times a day. Easy!