With so much time spent in lockdown and the inability to access regular dental appointments, it has never been more important to have an effective daily oral care routine.
Elaine Tilling, Head of Clinical Education at TePe UK shares her top 10 tips to achieve those healthy smiles:
1. Find the right tools
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush such as the TePe GOOD™ toothbrush. Manual toothbrushes work very well, but for some people, electric brushes can be more effective. Interdental brushing or flossing should also factor into your daily routine and should be undertaken at least once a day.
2. Try to eat a healthy and balanced diet
Try and limit your intake of sugary snacks and treats. Instead, opt for nutritious foods, such as plain yogurt, cheese, fruit or vegetables. Snacking on raw vegetables stimulates saliva - which helps to neutralise acids in the mouth.
Fruit is great for your overall health, but did you know that many fruits also contain high levels of organic acids and sugars which, if eaten constantly as snacks can damage the teeth? Try and keep your fruit intake to mealtimes. 1- 2 pieces of fruit a day is ideal with the rest of your recommended intake coming from vegetables. The acids from fruits ‘soften’ the enamel surface and so avoid brushing your teeth for 30-40 mins after consuming acidic fruit and juices – let your saliva do the important job of remineralising the enamel first.
3. Ice can help toothaches
If you have a toothache, simply take a piece of ice and massage it in the webbed area between your thumb and forefinger of the hand on the same side as your troublesome tooth. Research has shown that this can lessen the pain signals and reduce inflammation. It’s a unique method of short-term pain relief, however, the cause of the toothache does need to be treated as soon as possible.
4. Caffeine in moderation
Remember, caffeine isn’t always your friend. For some of us, life has come to a bit of a halt and for others it is more hectic than ever, so is it surprising that we turn to coffee to give us a boost?! However, the tannins present in many high caffeine drinks can cause staining and dehydration, leading to bad breath, so try to limit yourself to one or two cups a day to minimise the impact, or opt for a drink such as matcha, which has a slow caffeine release, has reduced staining and supports dental health.
5. Teeth aren’t tools
As handy as they are and as tempting as it is, teeth can be damaged by snipping electrical wires, tearing off plastic seals etc., so while you may be tempted to use your teeth, I suggest reaching for the scissors instead. Whilst enamel can repair early acid damage from our diets, it cannot replace itself once lost from a chip or fracture. The cells that are responsible for producing enamel do not function after the original enamel is formed.
6. Choose your lipstick shade wisely
Depending on your skin tone, the careful selection of your shade of lipstick can have quite a dramatic effect on the look of your teeth. Dark pink/purple hues produce a lightening effect on the enamel – the dark reds against paler skins do the opposite. Try chatting to a virtual cosmetic advisor from your favourite beauty brand for some tailored advice on shade selection.
Additionally, you should aim to protect your lips from the drying and sometimes damaging effects of the weather. Lips are an integral part of a good smile, so make sure you take care of them with a lip balm. Even better if you apply a lip balm or lipstick with an SPF to help prevent sun damage.
7. Don’t brush after eating
Yes, you heard that right! It’s recommended to leave toothbrushing for at least 30-40 min after eating to allow the saliva time to remineralise (harden) the tooth surfaces before brushing.
8. Sustainable straws are your friend
Juicing can be a great way to take on your five-a-day for some, however juices and other sugary drinks can have an undesirable effect on your smile, damaging the tooth’s enamel through acid erosion and tooth decay if consumed frequently. Drinking through a straw can help reduce direct contact with the teeth.
9. Choose your mouthwash wisely
If you are a frequent mouthwash user, you might be surprised to find that some mouthwashes can cause staining that only a dental care professional can remove, so always read the advice on the label! Mouthwashes that contain Chlorhexidine and certain essential oils can leave staining on the tooth surface – there is usually a warning on the label.
10. Keep your breath fresh
If you are worried about bad breath, use a tongue cleaner, such as the TePe GOOD™ tongue cleaner, to help remove plaque from the surface of your tongue, which can build up and cause bad breath. If it is your first time, avoid placing the tongue cleaner too far back. Begin cleaning from the front, slowly moving to the back of the tongue to ensure you don’t trigger your gag reflex.
Additionally, it’s important to stay hydrated. Dehydration can be a cause of bad breath. When you become dehydrated, you do not produce as much saliva. The reduced cleaning action of the saliva allows bacteria to grow, which can contribute to bad breath. Aim to drink between six - eight glasses of water (or non-alcoholic).