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tooth decay

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Dentists advise us that we should floss our teeth as well as brushing twice a day.

According to specialists, flossing lowers your risk of tooth decay and gum disease by preventing the build-up of plaque.

Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria fuelled by the carbohydrates we eat. If left to breed, these bacteria eventually begin to break down the tooth’s surface, leading to painful cavities that need filling, or even to the removal of the tooth if the decay is too widespread. Plaque begins to reform the minute you remove it, and if not removed it can lead to gingivitis, where gums become inflamed and bleed easily.

In a 26-year longitudinal study of men in Norway, teeth surrounded by inflamed gums were 46 times more likely to be lost by the end of the study than teeth surrounded by healthy gums.

Dentists advise us that we should floss our teeth as well as brushing twice a day

Dentists advise us that we should floss our teeth as well as brushing twice a day

We know a toothbrush cannot address the plaque problem completely, as it’s so hard to reach areas between the teeth. The idea of using flossing to reach the rest is credited to a dentist from New Orleans called Levi Spear Parmly, who recommended using silk for the purpose back in 1815. But it’s not only humans who do it. Long-tailed macaques at the Buddhist shrine of Prang Sam Yot in Thailand take strands of long human hair and wind them round their fingers to get to those hard to reach parts of their mouths.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that flossing reduces plaque levels, but what evidence is there that flossing can reduce the risk of both tooth decay and gingivitis? When you take a close look at the research, it’s not quite as straightforward as you may think.

A review of flossing in children found it could reduce decay, but in adults it’s not been as easy to demonstrate. A review published by the respected Cochrane Collaboration in 2012 gathered all the existing research on flossing and found just 12 trials, mostly conducted in the US, where adults were randomized either to brush their teeth as usual or to floss in addition.

They weren’t impressed with what they found. Combining the results of the studies and re-analyzing them, they found a possible small reduction in plaque, but the studies’ evidence was graded as weak and very unreliable.

“We are unable to claim or refute a benefit for flossing plus tooth brushing,” they said.

A reduction in plaque would suggest a reduction in tooth decay in the long-term, but not a single long-term randomized controlled trial had been done (the longest was nine months). None had included an assessment of tooth decay because it would be too soon to see any difference.

Flossing does help reduce the risk, if only by 8%. This was at least some positive news for flossing fans, in contrast to an earlier review from 2008 which found it couldn’t demonstrate any benefits for regular flossing.

But the quality of the evidence makes it hard to come to any strong conclusions. Cochrane Reviews not only summarize all the data available, but they rate the research according to how well it was designed and conducted. They judged that many studies didn’t come up to scratch, ranking the quality as “low”.

As poor as the evidence might be deemed to be, it’s still all we have to go on at the moment. So you could argue that if it may be useful for us, what’s the harm in getting everyone to floss anyway? Self-inflicted damage could be the reason, and some studies have investigated this.

One found that three of the 39 people taking part had damaged their gums one month into the study, but by two months, two of these people no longer had problems.

Another found two people had damaged their gums by using a type of automatic flosser, but not in quite the right way.

In the absence of any forthcoming evidence that could strengthen the case either way, if you are going to floss at least make sure it doesn’t do you more harm than good.

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According to a new study, the excessive consumption of soda – even diet soda – affects your teeth as badly as ingesting two of the most dangerous narcotics on earth.

The good news is it likely takes far more soda than the amount consumed by a normal human being to achieve the same dental devastation as c**ck or m**h.
The study – conducted by Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia – references a woman in her 30s who drank two liters of soda a day for nearly five years. According to Prof. Mohamed Bassiouny, the woman had the same amount of dental damage as a 29-year-old m**h user and a 51-year-old c**ck addict.
The m**h user, however, also consumed two or three cans of regular soda a day because the drugs made his mouth dry, and the c**ck addict has been a regular c**ck user for 18 years, nearly four times as long as the soda drinker had been consuming excessive amounts of soda. Additionally, the soda drinker admitted that she has not seen a dentist in many years.
“None of the teeth affected by erosion were salvageable,” Prof. Mohamed Bassiouny tells U.S. News and World Report, noting that all of the study participants had to have all of their teeth removed.

A new study claims that the excessive consumption of soda, even diet soda, affects your teeth as badly as ingesting two of the most dangerous narcotics on earth

A new study claims that the excessive consumption of soda, even diet soda, affects your teeth as badly as ingesting two of the most dangerous narcotics on earth

The study also finds that sugar-free soda is just as damaging to teeth as regular soda if they are consumed in the same quantity because of their acidic content – a high acidity level also is what makes c**ck and m**h so bad for teeth.
But soda advocates say the study is flawed, and that comparing soda to illegal d**gs is unfair and “irresponsible”.
“The woman referenced in this article did not receive dental health services for more than 20 years – two-thirds of her life,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement.

“To single out diet soda consumption as the unique factor in her tooth decay and erosion – and to compare it to that from illicit d**g use – is irresponsible.
‘The body of available science does not support that beverages are a unique factor in causing tooth decay or erosion,”
the group said.

“However, we do know that brushing and flossing our teeth, along with making regular visits to the dentist, play a very important role in preventing them.”

 

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Drinking large quantities of Coca-Cola was a “substantial factor” in the death of 30-year-old Natasha Harris in New Zealand, a coroner has said.

Natasha Harris, who died three years ago after a cardiac arrest, drank up to 10 litres of the fizzy drink each day.

This is twice the recommended safe limit of caffeine and more than 11 times the recommended sugar intake.

Coca-Cola had argued that it could not be proved its product had contributed to Natasha Harris’ death.

The mother of eight, from the southern city of Invercargill, had suffered for years from ill health.

Her family said she had developed an addiction to Coca-Cola and would get withdrawal symptoms, including “the shakes”, if she went without her favorite drink.

Natasha Harris drank Coke throughout her waking hours and her teeth had been removed because of decay.

Coroner David Crerar said her Coca-Cola consumption had given rise to cardiac arrhythmia, a condition when the heart beats too fast or too slow.

“I find that when all the available evidence is considered, were it not for the consumption of very large quantities of Coke by Natasha Harris, it is unlikely that she would have died when she died and how she died,” David Crerar’s finding said.

Drinking large quantities of Coca-Cola was a "substantial factor" in the death of 30-year-old Natasha Harris in New Zealand

Drinking large quantities of Coca-Cola was a “substantial factor” in the death of 30-year-old Natasha Harris in New Zealand

The coroner calculated that drinking 10 litres (17.5 pints) of Coke amounted to more than 1 kg (2.2 lb) of sugar and 970 mg of caffeine, Television New Zealand (TVNZ) reports.

David Crerar said that Coca-Cola could not be held responsible for the health of consumers who drank excessive quantities of its product.

But he called on soft drinks companies to display clearer warnings on their beverages about the risks of too much sugar and caffeine.

Natasha Harris and her family should have heeded the warning signs about her ill health, the coroner added.

“The fact she had her teeth extracted several years before her death because of what her family believed was Coke induced tooth decay, and the fact that one or more of her children were born without enamel on their teeth, should have been treated by her, and by her family, as a warning,” TVNZ quotes his statement as saying.

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Dentists insist flossing will keep our teeth sparkling and free from decay, as well as keeping our gums healthy.

Regular flossing has even been said to protect us from heart disease.

Yet, for most of us who try wrestling with the tape, it only results in a cricked neck and bleeding gums.

And now, according to a provocative new book, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, it seems that dedicated followers of flossing could actually be wasting their time.

The book is causing waves because it’s written by U.S.-based Dr. Ellie Phillips, who was among the first women dentists to train at Guy’s Hospital in London.

Dr. Ellie Phillips says that flossing – and that goes for whichever gizmo, gadget or bit of tape you choose to use – will do nothing to reduce your risk of tooth decay.

The science, she says, is on her side. Only one study has shown a benefit, and that involved a group of schoolchildren who did not floss themselves, but instead had their teeth flossed by a hygienist five days a week for two years.

And a study published in the British Dental Journal in 2006 found no difference in the number of cavities suffered by adults who flossed and those who did not.

So is Dr. Ellie Phillips right? Surprisingly, it seems she may be – but only up to a point.

“In all fairness, there is no evidence that flossing is effective in preventing tooth decay in the long run,” says Dr. Graham Barnby, a dentist from Marlow, Bucks, who is also a member of the Simply Health Advisory Research Panel, which analyses the latest research and medical thinking.

“So in a sense, she does have a point. Yet although the benefits of flossing may be limited with tooth decay, flossing does have a role in the prevention of gum disease.”

Tooth decay occurs when acid in the mouth eats away at the teeth. This acid is found in foods, but is mainly produced when bacteria in the mouth “digest” sugar – hence the reason sweets rot our teeth.

Gum disease, on the other hand, is caused by plaque – a film of bacteria on the teeth which, if not removed with brushing, irritates the gums, causing them to bleed and recede.

If left, the plaque hardens into tartar, which irritates the underlying bone of the gums and, in severe cases, can lead to wobbly teeth.

Some studies have even linked gum disease to heart disease, as the same bacteria found in the mouth have also been found in the heart.

Christina Chatfield, an independent dental hygienist based in Brighton, who is nominated for hygienist of the year, says effective flossing should help reduce both tooth cavities and gum disease.

She argues that the reason studies have shown it to have little effect is that too few people actually do it properly.

“The majority of those who do use floss (which I believe to be around 5% of the population), don’t use it effectively, so it is of minimal benefit to them,” Christina Chatfield says.

“To remove plaque, you need to hook the floss like a C around the tooth, so it hooks out the plaque from between the contact points of the teeth.

“I liken bad flossing to trying to clean a bottle neck with a piece of string floating in the middle – which, in effect, is all most people achieve.”

Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, says flossing is definitely not a waste of time – provided you’re doing it properly.

“We certainly shouldn’t be encouraging people not to do it,” he says.

“If you don’t clean between the teeth, you’re cleaning only 60% of the tooth’s surface.

“The dental profession has been pushing it for 20 years, yet we’ve got only 5% of the population to do it – because it’s fiddly.

“Most dentists recommend interdental brushes – small brushes that can get right below the gum line.

“They are much easier to use, and get into the curves of teeth so it’s easier to clean each side of the tooth.”

According to a provocative new book, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, it seems that dedicated followers of flossing could actually be wasting their time

According to a provocative new book, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, it seems that dedicated followers of flossing could actually be wasting their time

However, Dr. Ellie Phillips argues that rather than flossing or using brushes, all you need to do is use three different mouthwashes – one before brushing, and two after.

People often clean their teeth immediately after eating, yet this can lead to the teeth wearing away, she says, because food softens teeth.

Instead, she recommends using Ultradex mouthwash before brushing, which stops this happening. It contains chlorine dioxide, which studies show may help remove bacteria.

After brushing teeth, Dr. Ellie Phillips advocates Listerine, to enhance the cleaning process, and then a fluoride rinse such as Fluorigard to help strengthen and repair teeth.

In addition, she advocates using lozenges or chewing gum containing the sweetener xylitol, which has been found in tests to reduce tooth decay.

So does Dr. Ellie Phillips’ method work?

“The bacteria around teeth that cause gum disease are extremely protective and hard to shift – they don’t even respond to antibiotics,” says Christina Chatfield.

“The idea that these bacteria could be shifted by mouthwash alone is ludicrous. The only option is to shift them physically, and even with the most thorough flossing some get left behind.”

But could xylitol still be the secret to a healthy mouth?

Xylitol, a naturally occurring sweetener found mainly in the bark of the silver birch tree but also in the fibres of many berries, fruits and mushrooms, works by suppressing production of harmful bacteria in the mouth.

“There are clearly dental health benefits with xylitol, therefore products that contain it can help fight tooth decay,” says Dr. Nigel Carter.

Hundreds of studies show it is a proven force against tooth decay. A study of 80 adults who, for three weeks, were given xylitol gum to chew three times a day after meals revealed that the gum brought about a dramatic decline in bacteria numbers.

In Scandinavia – which is a major producer of xylitol thanks to its high numbers of birch trees – xylitol lozenges are popular.

“The lozenges have about 100% xylitol, but in the chewing gums you’ll get only about 30%,” says Dr. Nigel Carter.

“Many dentists now recognize the benefits of xylitol and encourage their patients to use it.”

He adds that many European countries use xylitol in sweets instead of sugar. In Spain, for instance, around 70% of confectionary is sugar-free, whereas in the UK it is closer to 30%.

Peppersmith mints and gum are made with pure xylitol (these are available at most large supermarkets and in Holland & Barrett), and you can also buy granulated xylitol in the sugar aisle of supermarkets. Lozenges can be bought online and in some health food stores.

The recommended dose is about 5g a day. Regular intake of xylitol can cause flatulence and diarrhoea, but Dr. Nigel Carter says this effect will only be temporary.

Professor Stephen Porter, director of the Eastman Dental Institute in London, cautions that xylitol lozenges should be avoided by some groups.

“It’s certainly not suitable for children or the elderly, because it can have a laxative effect and cause tummy upsets.”

Rather than mouthwashes and sweets, most dental professionals say it is simple measures that will help protect dental health.

“That means avoiding sugary snacks between meals as sugar leads to more acid which then attacks the teeth, and you want to limit the time that this happens,” says Prof. Stephen Porter.

“You also need to brush and floss thoroughly to clean plaque off, and use fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen the teeth.

“You don’t need fancy equipment – just dental tape and a toothbrush will do fine

“Above all, people must remember that flossing will do them absolutely no harm whatsoever, and will actually most probably have an awful lot of benefits.”

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Statistics show only 6% of adults were edentate, or had no teeth, in 2009, compared with 37% in 1968. Yet according to the Adult Dental Health Survey, only 10% of us have “excellent” oral health and 83% have some level of gum disease.

Dentist Dr. Susan Tanner says: “With the right advice, routine and technique, you should be able to have healthy teeth all your life.”

Dr. Simon Khoury, a private and NHS dentist from Bath, agrees: “Some of my patients don’t have a single filling.”

So how can we make teeth last for ever? We asked the experts…

1. GET THE CORRECT TOOLS FOR THE JOB

A. DITCH FANCY PASTES

“Fluoride is the most important component of toothpaste and in the prevention of tooth decay,” says Dr. Will Carter, cosmetic dentistry specialist at the Queensway Dental Clinic in Teesside.

“Whitening pastes can be abrasive, making teeth prone to staining and they can’t whiten significantly as no more than 0.1% bleach can be added.

“Don’t bother with enamel building paste,” says Dr. Jeremy Hill of The Centre of Dental Excellence in Essex.

“Ingredients to remineralize teeth are too small to make a difference.”

B. THE BUDS AND THE BEES

After brushing, Harley Street dentist Dr. Dana York says put bee propolis liquid along the gum line.

“Propolis is gathered by bees from buds and bark to disinfect the hive. It keeps decay at bay.”
TRY: Bee Health Propolis Tincture, 30ml, nutricentre.com

C. TONGUE TWISTER

“To some extent the tongue is self-cleaning,” says Dr. Asif Chatoo, orthodontist at the London Lingual Orthodontic Clinic.

“However, the deep grooves means it stores bacteria that could damage teeth. Try a scraper.”
TRY: DenTek Tongue Cleaner, thehealthcounter.com

D. WHICH MOUTHWASH?

“Don’t use mouthwashes containing alcohol as these have been linked to an increased risk in oral cancer,” says Dr. Mark Hughes at the Harley Street Dental Studio.

Ones containing chlorhexidine can stain teeth, he says.

“It’s an antiseptic found in Corsodyl, and should only be used if your dentist instructs you to.”
TRY: One containing fluoride.

E. CHEW GUM

Some US pastes contain xylitol, a sugar-free sweetener. It can reduce decay by binding to bacteria, weakening its bond to the teeth.

“Orbit Complete, a sugar-free gum, also contains xylitol,” says Dr. Uchenna Okoye of London Smiling.
TRY: Spry Toothpaste with Xylitol, healthstore.uk.com

2. MAKE SURE THE TIME IS RIGHT

A. USE A STOPWATCH

We should brush for two minutes, twice a day, but a quarter of adults brush once a day or less.

“Studies show we do it for only 45 seconds,” says Dr. Mark  Hughes. Yet two minutes of brushing will remove 25% more plaque.

B. BRUSH BEFORE BREAKFAST

“Brushing after breakfast is one of the biggest fallacies around,” says Dr. Uchenna Okoye, and Dr. Dana York agrees.

“Brush as soon as you wake up then you don’t have any bacteria in your mouth when eating,” he says.

“As soon as the bacteria has something on which to feast, you are more likely to develop tooth decay,” Dr. Uchenna Okoye adds.

“Any acidity in food softens enamel, and brushing teeth after may damage teeth.”

C. GO ELECTRIC

“I’d love to say otherwise but it is worth investing when it comes to brushes,” says Dr. Mark Hughes.

“A £10 [$15] toothbrush that vibrates will be more effective at plaque removal than manual brushing.

“Expensive sonic toothbrushes, which can cost up to £250 [$400], are even better. They can create more than 30,000 strokes a minute. Electric ones operate between 2,500 and 7,500 vibrations a minute. Sonic vibrations also clean under the gum.”

D. BE GENTLE

“Never use a hard brush. Plaque is quite soft and can be dislodged with gentle movements,” says Dr. Uchenna Okoye.

“Opt for a medium firmness with a rounded filament,” says Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation.

E. BRUSH UP ON YOUR TECHNIQUE

Studies suggest that 80% of adults don’t brush their teeth correctly – poor technique can damage gums.

“I regularly have to correct my patients,” says Dr. Mark Hughes. Here is his quick guide…

Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush.

– Start at the back of the upper teeth. With the brush head at an angle of 45 degrees so the bristles face up, use gentle rotating motions. Do not saw back and forth.

– Brush along the gum line.

– Do the same with the bottom teeth and on the inside. Afterwards, don’t rinse – residual toothpaste on the tooth surface makes it more resistant to decay.

– If using an electric brush, do not rotate it but instead steadily move it along the gum line.

3. CUT DOWN ON SUGAR AND WINE

A. BLEEDING GUMS CAN BE A GOOD SIGN

If you don’t floss, you are leaving 40% of the tooth surface untouched. “Flossing removes plaque and debris,” says Dr. Uchenna Okoye.

“It also helps prevent and treat bad breath. Just smell the floss after it has been used. I recommend a waxed tape rather than floss as it has a wider surface area.”

“Use an interdental brush for bigger gaps,” says Dr. Nicola Owen, of the Dental Phobia Clinic, Manchester.

“If your gums bleed it’s a good sign as you’re reaching areas where there is a build-up of plaque. It should stop after a few days as plaque is cleared.

“If it doesn’t, see your dentist as you may have a deeper problem.”

Dr. Federico Tinti, periodontist at London Smiling, adds: “Water-picks – also known as hydro-flossers – which emit a jet of water to remove trapped debris, are not as effective as old-fashioned floss.”

B. LEARN TO RELAX

“Tooth grinding – bruxism – is common,” says Dr. Asif Chatoo.

“It causes cracking and chipping of teeth and receding gums,” says Dr. Uchenna Okoye. Headaches are another side-effect.

Dr. Asif Chatoo recommends a tooth shield. “It’s a smaller version of the ones boxers wear to stop teeth grinding. Try to get a custom-made one as they are more comfortable.”

C. HIDDEN SUGAR

Sweets and sugary drinks cause tooth decay, but Dr. Simon Khoury says we also need to be aware of sugar in foods such as tomato ketchup and baked beans. Meanwhile, wine is acidic and will gradually erode the teeth. The key is not the quantity of sugar you eat but how often.

“It’s a great reason to avoid snacking,” says Dr. Uchenna Okoye.

“It takes an hour for mouth pH to rebalance after eating.”

4. BRACE YOURSELF…

A. STRAIGHT TEETH LAST LONGER

Braces are not just about vanity as straighter teeth are simply healthier for your body. So, it’s time to see an orthodontist

“Crooked teeth lead to more decay,” says Dr. Asif Chatoo.

“Straight teeth are easier to clean so you are less likely to get gum disease,” says Dr. Simon Khoury.

“Food can get into awkward places in crooked teeth, meaning that bacteria collects.”

B. FILLINGS: WHITE OR SILVER?

There have been concerns about the health risks of silver amalgam fillings, which contain mercury.

Dr. Stuart Johnston, of the British Dental Association, says: “Amalgam fillings were banned in some European countries but this was because of the environmental impact of mercury waste being washed down the plughole.

“It’s nothing to do with health. In my mind amalgam is safe and effective.”

White fillings are made of glass particles, synthetic resin and a setting ingredient and last five to eight years, compared with eight to 12 years with amalgam.

C. WHITENING:

The laws changed last week. It is now illegal to whiten the teeth of those under 18 and single-session whitening treatments are banned. Beauticians are no longer allowed to carry out whitening.

D. FALSE ECONOMY OF VENEERS

Dr.Jeremy Hill, of The Centre of Dental Excellence, Essex, says veneers can damage the tooth as treatment involves drilling on to the surface.

“One in ten people with veneers needs a root filling because the process irritates the nerve and affects the tooth.”

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A new research has found that coconut oil attacks the bacteria behind tooth decay and could be used in dental care products.

Scientists found that coconut oil which had been treated with enzymes stopped the growth of Streptococcus bacteria – a major cause of tooth decay.

Tooth decay affects 60% to 90% of children in industrialized countries.

Speaking at the Society for General Microbiology’s conference, the Irish researchers say that coconut oil also attacks the yeast which causes thrush.

The research team from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland tested the impact of coconut oil, vegetable oil and olive oil in their natural states and when treated with enzymes, in a process similar to digestion.

The oils were then tested against Streptococcus bacteria which are common inhabitants of the mouth.

A new research has found that coconut oil attacks the bacteria behind tooth decay and could be used in dental care products

A new research has found that coconut oil attacks the bacteria behind tooth decay and could be used in dental care products

Only the enzyme-modified coconut oil showed an ability to inhibit the growth of most strains of the bacteria.

It also attacked Streptococcus mutans, an acid-producing bacterium which is a major cause of tooth decay.

It is thought that the breaking down of the fatty coconut oil by the enzymes turns it into acids which are active and effective against bacteria.

Previous research found that enzyme-modified milk could stop Streptococcus mutans from binding to tooth enamel.

Researchers now want to look at how coconut oil interacts with Streptococcus bacteria at the molecular level and which other strains of harmful bacteria it can inhibit.

Dr. Damien Brady, who led the research at the Athlone Institute of Technology with Patricia Hughes, a Masters student, said coconut oil could be an attractive alternative to chemical additives.

“It works at relatively low concentrations.

“Also, with increasing antibiotic resistance, it is important that we turn our attention to new ways to combat microbial infection.”

Their studies are also looking into the workings of antibacterial activity in the human gut.

“Our data suggests that products of human digestion show antimicrobial activity. This could have implications for how bacteria colonize the cells lining the digestive tract and for overall gut health,” said Dr. Damien Brady.

 

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A European study has found that while almost all Swedes brush their teeth, only one in 10 does it in a way that effectively prevents tooth decay.

Here is the advice from the British Dental Health Foundation:

  • Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth, then tilt the bristle tips to a 45 degree angle against the gum line. Move the brush in small circular movements, several times, on all the surfaces of every tooth.
  • Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower, keeping the bristles angled against the gum line.
  • Use the same method on the inside surfaces of all your teeth.
A European study has found that while almost all Swedes brush their teeth, only one in 10 does it in a way that effectively prevents tooth decay

A European study has found that while almost all Swedes brush their teeth, only one in 10 does it in a way that effectively prevents tooth decay

  • Brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several small circular strokes with the toe (the front part) of the brush.
  • Brushing your tongue will freshen your breath and clean your mouth by removing bacteria.

 

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A European study has found that while almost all Swedes brush their teeth, only one in 10 does it in a way that effectively prevents tooth decay.

Prof. Pia Gabre from the University of Gothenburg, led two studies into the tooth brushing habits of more than 2,000 Swedes aged 15-16, 31-35, 60-65 and 76-80.

They were asked various dental care questions like how long they brushed for and how much toothpaste they used.

The researchers were aghast to discover 90% of the population did not clean their teeth in the most effective way.

Many failed to brush twice a day, while others rinsed out their mouths afterwards so diluting the protective effect of the fluoride toothpaste.

A European study has found that while almost all Swedes brush their teeth, only one in 10 does it in a way that effectively prevents tooth decay

A European study has found that while almost all Swedes brush their teeth, only one in 10 does it in a way that effectively prevents tooth decay

“Swedes generally do brush their teeth, but mostly because of social norms and to feel fresh rather than to prevent tooth decay,” said Prof. Pia Gabre.

“Most of the interviewed subjects learned to brush their teeth as children, by their parents. Even if they have been informed about more effective techniques later in life, they continue to brush their teeth like they always have.”

The British Dental Association recommends using a toothbrush with a small head as it’s easier to get into all the nooks and crannies. Most people should opt for a medium or soft brush.

Meanwhile the best technique is a circular action rather than scrubbing up and down, taking time to reach areas at the very back of the mouth where bacteria can accumulate.

Teeth should be cleaned for a minimum of two minutes twice a day.

Toothpaste should contain fluoride at a concentration of at least 1,350 ppm. Most leading brands will contain these levels.

Flossing between teeth is important to remove a build up of detritus.

Despite their shortcomings, 80% of Swedes were generally happy with how they took care of their teeth.

The researchers concluded that knowledge about tooth brushing must be improved and that the provided advice must be made simpler, clearer and more easy to use.

 

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Dentists warn that children who are encouraged to drink large amounts of fruit juice as part of their “five a day” could be damaging their teeth.

Specialists are concerned that health- conscious parents who regularly give their children juices and smoothies bursting with fruit could be doing long-term damage.

Dr. Kathy Harley, dean of the dental faculty at the Royal College of Surgeons in UK, warned that half of 5-year-olds had signs of wear to their tooth enamel.

She has called on schools to offer milk or water to pupils during breaks instead of fruit juice, which has a high acid content.

Dental erosion, which is irreversible, is caused by acid attacking the surface of teeth – and citrus fruit juices in particular are very acidic.

While fruit juices contain a range of vitamins that are good for your health, they are also often high in natural sugars, which cause tooth decay.

Kathy Harley suggested parents should give their children fruit juice as a treat once a week, for example on Saturdays.

It suggests people drink the juice with a meal as this can help to reduce damage to the teeth.

Drinking more than one glass of juice a day does not count as more than one portion of fruit, as it does not contain the fibre found in the whole fruit.

Juicing or blending fruit releases the sugars inside and is worse for the teeth if drunk frequently.

Dentists warn that children who are encouraged to drink large amounts of fruit juice as part of their “five a day” could be damaging their teeth

Dentists warn that children who are encouraged to drink large amounts of fruit juice as part of their “five a day” could be damaging their teeth

Some researchers also say drinking juice slowly can cause more damage to teeth.

Dentists have previously warned that, while tooth decay is less common as more children and adults brush their teeth regularly than in the past, dental erosion is a growing problem due to acidic drinks.

Research published last year by King’s College London Dental Institute, based on a study of 1,000 people aged between 18 and 30, suggested eating an apple could be worse for teeth than drinking a fizzy drink because of the acid it contains.

Experts recommend people continue to eat fruit but drink water afterwards to wash away the acid or eat something containing calcium, such as cheese, which neutralizes acid.

Damien Walmsley, an adviser to the British Dental Association said: “If you are having fruit, keep it to meal times. That [may] go against the [recommendation of] five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but it is not a good idea snacking on it because of the continual drip, drip on to the tooth.”