From brushes to floss to electrical gadgets, the oral health aisle is steadily expanding. Which products are really a must-have?
If you’ve walked into a drugstore lately, you’ve probably noticed that the oral health aisle — everything from brushes and floss to electrical gadgets and whitening kits — is steadily expanding. But should we really think about our teeth other than brushing a few times a day?
Perhaps because GP and dentist visits are disconnected, people don’t always associate dental health with their overall physical health. But dr. Laura Dempster, an associate professor in the Department of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, says it’s “important to realize that dental health is part of overall system health, because what happens in your mouth can affect the rest of your body.” and vice versa. ”
When it comes to dental health, the most important thing is to find a routine that works and a dentist who can help you make the right choices. “Oral hygiene should be tailored to the patient,” says Dempster. And if you really want to maximize how effective you are, she says give your teeth their most thorough cleaning before going to bed. We produce less saliva – which protects our teeth – while we sleep.
For example, harmful bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans build up in your mouth if you don’t remove plaque from your teeth through proper brushing and flossing, which can lead to cavities and gum disease. This disease causes your gums to bleed, and the bacteria can then enter your bloodstream, where they encourage blood clots to form, increasing your risk of heart disease.
Fortunately, Canadians take pretty good care of their teeth – 75 percent visit a dental clinic every year. Keep in mind: by the time symptoms develop, a problem has been brewing beneath the surface for a while, which is why Dempster stresses the importance of regular checkups.
So, dental visits aside, how do we keep our mouths healthy?
How to floss?
It is recommended to floss once a day, but only 28 percent of Canadians even floss five times a week. Brushing only cleans the surface of your teeth, allowing plaque — a sticky film filled with bacteria — to build up between teeth and cause problems. That’s why floss was developed, Dempster says.
While flossing is ideal, other aids can mimic what it does. Dempster says a Sulcabrush (a small, angled brush) or Soft-Picks (which look like toothpicks with rubber bristles) can help create a routine, because these tools get you in the habit of flossing daily — between your brushing your teeth in any way is better than not at all. And while a Waterpik, which uses water pressure to clean between your teeth, could have the same effect as flossing, Dempster says it’s more effective for washing away food but won’t help with plaque, which is sticky and doesn’t wash off well with just water. Plaque requires the kind of mechanical removal that flossing provides.
How to Whiten Teeth Safely?
Teeth whitening is not new – the ancient Romans used a mixture of urine (which contains ammonia) and goat’s milk for their smiles.
Today, more and more better-smelling products for home use are available. However, it is normal for teeth to darken as we age. Over time, enamel — the hard mineral layer that protects our teeth — becomes stained or worn, exposing the dentin — a yellowish tissue — underneath. “I think the pressure to whiten your teeth is more of a societal pressure,” says Dempster.
This societal pressure can put our teeth at risk. “I’m not convinced there is a safe way to whiten your teeth,” she adds. Some whitening products, such as strips, contain carbamide or hydrogen peroxides, which act as whitening agents that penetrate part of the tooth to remove stains. In the process, they can increase tooth sensitivity or irritate gums, and Dempster says there is mounting evidence that whitening can directly damage teeth.
Home products don’t offer much user control, so it’s best to talk to your dentist or hygienist if you really love pearly whites. They can guide you in choosing the right whitening products or let you know if you should opt for an in-office treatment to ensure you don’t damage your teeth.
Is Fluoride Toothpaste Safe?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in our teeth and bones. It is also added to some municipal water supplies and found in products such as toothpaste because it helps strengthen enamel. However, for all its benefits, this mineral is shrouded in controversy.
Some people believe that too much fluoride can cause cancer when it builds up in the bones. But several studies in different populations have failed to find a strong link between cancer and fluoride, and organizations such as the World Health Organization, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, and the National Research Council of Canada have said there is no direct link between fluoride and cancer. . In fact, water fluoridation is associated with a 20 to 30 percent reduction in tooth decay at the population level.
In Canada, municipalities decide whether to fluoridate their water. Toronto’s water, for example, has been fluoridated since 1963, and as of 2017, about 39 percent of Canadians had access to fluoridated water.
Tongue Scraping Benefits
In addition to brushing, some people use tongue cleaning tools, such as tongue scrapers. While many do it to control bad breath, the purpose of cleaning the tongue is actually to remove plaque and bacteria that build up on it.
While some professionals say tongue scrapers can work better than toothbrushes, Dempster says you can clean your tongue just as easily with a toothbrush as you can with a special scraping tool. The best way to do this is to lightly scrape your brush from back to front, while not activating your gag reflex.
Now that you’ve learned expert-approved dental tips, learn about common dental problems and what they say about your overall health.