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Dental health tips: true or false?

Wednesday 1st October

If you've ever wondered whether eating an apple a day genuinely keeps the doctor away, then the following old wives' tales about your teeth should make fascinating reading.

With so many dental “must-haves” on the shelves – from electric toothbrushes, to whitening treatments, flosses and interdental brushes – it can be difficult to know what you really need to keep your teeth clean.

Elaine Tilling, a dental hygienist at TePe Oral Hygiene agrees, saying: “Establishing myth from truth can be difficult, and our oral hygiene habits taught and established during childhood can be difficult to change. The mantra for all is two minutes' brushing twice daily and, for adults, to additionally clean in between the teeth with either floss or an interdental brush once a day. Just using a mouthwash and toothbrush won’t reach the plaque built up between the teeth.”

Separating fact from fiction

“Eating fruit before you go to bed cleans your teeth” - true or false?

False. While containing necessary nutrients, a lot of fruit contains sugary substances that are not good for your teeth at bedtime. Eating fruit before bed provides sugary and acidic conditions for plaque bacteria to thrive. Coupled with the reduction in the protective saliva flow that occurs naturally at night, eating fruit before bed puts teeth at risk of damage.

“Always rinse your mouth with water after tooth brushing” - true or false?

False. We all do it – we rinse our mouths out with water after brushing our teeth. However, rinsing your teeth with either water or even some low-fluoride mouthwashes after brushing washes away the protective fluoride coating left by the toothpaste, which with optimal fluoride content adds hours of protection. Instead, simply spit out excess toothpaste after brushing.

“Only the sugar in sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks and chocolate are bad for teeth” - true or false?

False. All sugars have the potential to damage teeth, even the ones found naturally in fruits. Dried fruit, fruit juice, smoothies and honey all contain natural sugars that can cause tooth decay. Try to limit the frequency of these foods and drinks during the day and remember to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, and clean interdentally to help protect your teeth from the wear and tear of even a “healthy” diet.

Further information

The British Dental Association's BDA Smile website is a good source of reliable information on dental and oral care.

The cash plans offered by benenden insurance, for ages 17 to 65 and 66 plus cover dental treatment.