Having braces can put you at higher risk of tooth decay. Learn how to keep your teeth healthy while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Category: Dental Hygiene
If you have a buildup of tartar on the back of your bottom teeth you’re not alone. This is a common problem. The good news is tartar is treatable and preventable.
Most people have experienced tooth sensitivity at least once in their life. Eating ice cream, drinking hot liquids, breathing in cold fresh air or eating lollies is enough to trigger pain or discomfort at the root of your teeth. But what causes sensitive teeth and when should you do something about it?
Tooth sensitivity is a common problem. There are many reasons a person might have sensitive teeth and the symptoms might range from mild discomfort to a more intense pain.
What causes teeth sensitivity?
Lots of things can trigger the feeling of sensitive teeth but the underlying cause is when the nerve of the tooth is exposed to stimulation. There are a few reasons this can happen.
Thinner tooth enamel
Enamel is the outer protective covering that surrounds our teeth. Enamel is incredibly strong and shields our teeth from cavities and other types of damage. Tooth enamel can wear down over time thanks to plaque, acids and bacteria building up in our mouth. Eating and drinking acidic foods can also wear down enamel as can grinding your teeth. Tooth enamel loss can make our teeth more sensitive to heat, cold and sugar.
Gum recession is when the gums pull away from the teeth. Many people with gum recession experience sensitivity. This is because the tooth root which is now exposed isn’t protected with enamel. Instead, it’s covered with cementum, which isn’t as strong and offers less protection against hot or cold temperatures and sweet foods.
Cavities and chipped teeth
Cavities, tooth decay, chipped or broken teeth can all leave the interior of our teeth – the dentin – exposed, causing sensitivity. In the case of a decayed or damaged tooth, you’ll only feel pain in one tooth or area of your mouth rather than in across all of your teeth.
Tooth whitening kits and whitening strips may leave you with whiter teeth, but they can also increase teeth sensitivity. This is because a lot of at home products are overly acidic which wears down tooth enamel and can irritate your gums. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity after using whitening strips or gels your teeth stop using them for a while and your teeth should feel less sensitive. If you have sensitive teeth but want to explore teeth whitening talk to your dentist about professional teeth whitening.
Brushing too hard
Our teeth and gums are more sensitive to brushing than you might think. If you have sensitive teeth and gums, particularly after brushing, it could be because you’re brushing too hard. There’s no need to use a lot of force when you brush your teeth. Grip your toothbrush firmly and brush in gentle circular motions. You can also change your hard bristled toothbrush for a soft bristled brush. Better yet, use an electric toothbrush and let it do the hard work for you.
When is tooth sensitivity not normal?
There are lots of reasons a person might experience sensitive teeth but how do you know when it’s a problem?
If tooth sensitivity is affecting your daily life and is causing you pain, you need to see a dentist. The sharper and longer the pain lasts, the more likely your tooth sensitivity is caused by an underlying problem.
If you feel like you’ve always had sensitive teeth and the discomfort is mild, it’s still a good idea to come in for a checkup. Taking early action can help prevent cavities from forming and reduce enamel loss which is important for preventing tooth sensitivity.
When to see a dentist for sensitive teeth
You should book a dentist appointment if you have:
- Tooth pain that is sharp and feels isolated to one area
- Sensitivity that lasts longer than a day or two
- Reoccurring sensitivity after eating or drinking
- Staining on the surface enamel of your teeth
- Pain when biting or chewing
How is tooth sensitivity treated?
After a dental checkup, your dentist will recommend treatment based on the underlying cause of your sensitivity.
If your tooth sensitivity is mild and caused by thinning enamel, they may apply a flouride gel or desensitising agent during your appointment. These help to protect tooth enamel and reduce tooth sensitivity.
Your dentist might also recommend cutting back on acidic and sugary foods and drinks to help prevent further tooth enamel erosion.
If the sensitivity is caused by exposed dentin, you may need a filling to treat a cavity or broken tooth.
If you have receding gums your dentist may apply a desensitising agent to reduce sensitivity on the tooth root. In more pronounced cases a gum graft could be an option.
In all cases, your dentist will talk through their recommendations for treatment with you and make sure you’re comfortable with the right treatment.
Time to book an appointment?
Whether your discomfort is mild or more severe, new or something you’ve been dealing with for a while, you don’t have to live with it. Book an appointment now at Gentle Dental and let our dentists take care of you.
Good oral hygiene isn’t just about brushing and flossing every day; it’s also about visiting your dental team regularly. While most people know it’s important to see their dentist, they’re less sure about the role a dental hygienist plays in oral care. Here’s everything you should know about visiting a dental hygienist.
What is a dental hygienist?
If you’ve never been to a dental hygienist, you’re not alone. Dental hygienists work alongside dentists and orthodontists to provide extra care to dental patients. Their role is to focus on preventing and treating oral health problems like gum disease, inflamed gums, loose teeth, receding gums or bad breath. Part of their role is to educate patients on caring for their teeth and gums. A typical appointment may involve your hygienist cleaning your teeth and offering advice around:
- Flossing more effectively
- Choosing the right toothbrush
- Preventing plaque buildup
- Using dental aids
Why should I see a dental hygienist?
Seeing a dental hygienist regularly is essential for a few reasons. While your at-home dental routine matters, it’s hard for even the most dedicated person to clean everywhere. Bacteria and plaque can build up between your back molars, under gums or behind bonded retainers. Once plaque has hardened into tartar, removing it with a toothbrush is impossible.
Another reason to see a dental hygienist is to treat gum disease. Signs of gum disease include bad breath, bleeding gums, sore or swollen gums, a receding gum line and loose teeth. You should see a dental hygienist immediately if you have any of these signs.
A hygienist will clean and treat your teeth and advise you on improving your oral health.
What happens at a hygienist appointment?
At an appointment, your dental hygienist will ask about your dental routine, what type of toothbrush you use and if you have any specific concerns, like bleeding when you brush or floss or a buildup of tartar. They will then examine your mouth and assess the health of your teeth before performing a clean, scale and polish.
Clean, scale and polish
Your hygienist will start removing any plaque and tartar using specialised tools like an ultrasound scraper to remove the bulk of the tartar. They will then use smaller hand-held instruments to remove stubborn remains and get between the teeth.
After they have removed all the tartar, your hygienist will polish your teeth. Polishing helps smooth the surface of your teeth and makes it harder for plaque to accumulate in the future. Polishing also helps remove stains and will leave your teeth whiter and shinier. During this stage, your hygienist will apply a special gritty toothpaste to your teeth and clean them with an electric toothbrush.
Once the cleaning is finished, your hygienist will ask you to rinse your mouth. Rinsing helps to get rid of any debris and leaves your mouth feeling fresh and clean.
Rather than a clean and polish, your hygienist might recommend a deep clean. A deep clean is a more intensive treatment that targets the area below the gum line. This treatment, also known as root planing and scaling, is typically recommended for people with periodontal disease. During a deep clean, your hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from the tooth surface and the root surfaces of the teeth exposed beneath the gum line.
Your hygienist will also smooth out any rough spots on the roots of the teeth to prevent bacteria from accumulating and causing further damage. A deep clean may require multiple appointments and may be performed under local anesthesia to ensure you are comfortable.
A dental hygienist will recommend a deep clean based on your oral health needs. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices will prevent the need for a deep clean in the first place.
Pocket cleaning involves cleaning the pockets between the teeth and gums when bacteria and plaque build up. This buildup causes inflammation and damage to the gums, leading to periodontal disease.
A pocket clean is usually only recommended for patients with periodontal disease. The procedure is important for maintaining good oral health and preventing further damage to the gums and teeth.
Your hygienist may recommend fluoride treatment at the end of your appointment. A fluoride gel or varnish is applied to your teeth and helps to strengthen the enamel. This will also help protect your teeth from decay.
Advice and follow-up
Finally, your hygienist may advise on oral hygiene practices and recommend any additional treatment needed to maintain good oral health. Regular visits to the dental hygienist can help prevent gum disease, cavities, and other dental issues, making it an essential part of maintaining good oral health.
Does visiting the dental hygienist hurt?
Typically, scaling and polishing are not painful procedures. You might experience discomfort if you haven’t had a cleaning for a while. More intensive treatments like deep cleaning or dental pocket cleaning, use a local anesthetic to ensure you are completely comfortable and pain-free. You may feel some sensitivity after scaling, deep clean or pocket cleaning. This usually goes away after a few hours.
If you feel any discomfort or pain during any dental hygienist procedure, tell your hygienist so that they can make you more comfortable.
How often should I see a dental hygienist?
You should see a dental hygienist at least once a year. If you have a history of gum disease, some dentists may recommend that you make an appointment every six months. In between appointments, continue to brush twice a day and floss daily. This will prevent the need for restorative procedures in the future.
Need to book an appointment with a dental hygienist? Book in with Wellington’s gentlest dentists today.
Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be embarrassing. It can impact your self-esteem and make you not want to get physically close to other people. The good news is that improving your dental hygiene is one simple way to make your mouth feel and smell clean. In more persistent or severe cases, bad breath may be a sign of an underlying health condition. Read on to discover the causes and treatment for halitosis.
What causes bad breath?
There is no one single cause of bad breath.
Certain foods, such as onion and garlic, can make your breath smell bad temporarily as the strong smells of these foods can linger in your mouth, on your tongue and in your stomach.
Poor Oral Habits
If you find that your breath smells (and not just after eating food) it may be poor oral hygiene habits. After we eat, small particles of food get stuck between our teeth and gums. Brushing in the morning and again in the evening helps to remove this food. Without proper and frequent brushing and flossing, these food particles can start to smell as bacteria collects on the teeth, tongue and gums.
Smoking is another major contributor to bad breath. Nicotine and tobacco products have a strong smell and can linger for a long time on your teeth, tongue and gums.
If you suffer from halitosis and nothing seems to help, your bad breath could be caused by an underlying medical condition or medication side effects. Dry mouth can cause bad breath. Saliva naturally helps to wash away food particles in our mouths. When there is a decrease in saliva production this debris gets left behind and starts to smell.
Bad breath is also a symptom of gum disease. Periodontitis is a serious type of gum disease that results in inflamed gums, bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth. If your gums are red and swollen, you may have early signs of gum disease and should see your dentist immediately.
Tonsil stones are caused by food getting stuck in the tonsils and hardening into calcium deposits. These can sometimes contribute to bad breath.
A buildup of bacteria on the tongue can cause bad breath. If you experience a white film at the back of your tongue this may be odor-causing bacteria. This bacteria can interact with some amino acids and produce an unpleasant sulphur smell.
Dentures that aren’t cleaned correctly can harbour bacteria, food particles and plaque just like our natural teeth do. This can contribute to bad breath.
As our mouth is connected to other areas of the body, bad breath isn’t only caused by poor oral health. Respiratory infections, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, nasal drip, bronchitis, and ear, nose and throat infections can all cause our breath to smell.
What does it mean if I have bad breath all the time?
It’s normal to experience bad breath from time to time. However, if you suffer from halitosis regularly you should see your dentist first to check for signs of gum disease. They will be able to examine your teeth and gums and may recommend that you see a dental hygienist for a thorough mouth clean.
Bad breath can indicate that you aren’t taking care of your oral health. If this is the case, start brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day and booking in for dental visits every six months.
If your teeth and gums are healthy and well cared for, your bad breath could be a medical-related problem. If you’re on medication that causes dry mouth, speak to your doctor about the side effects. Drinking water regularly can help alleviate some of the discomfort and the smell of bad breath. Book in for a general checkup and talk to your doctor about your halitosis. Problems with your stomach, throat, ears and nose can also cause bad breath.
How do I prevent bad breath?
Studies show that around 30% of people worldwide experience halitosis. Many of these cases are caused by poor dental hygiene. Improving your oral health habits is the easiest way to work out whether your halitosis is quickly treatable.
Brush and Floss Every Day
Plaque builds up on our teeth every day from the foods we eat and collects bacteria which causes bad breath. Trapped food can also start to break down and will smell if not dealt with. You can improve the smell of your breath by simply brushing for two minutes morning and night, and flossing once per day.
Drink More Water
Water helps to flush away the food particles which break down in our mouths. Coffee can also cause bad breath as the smell lingers on the back of the tongue. Alleviate these food smells from your mouth by drinking water after your morning coffee and having a glass of water at lunch or after you snack.
Mouthwash can help to freshen your breath and rid your mouth of bacteria. While it’s not a necessary step, it can help your mouth feel more fresh.
Scrape your tongue
Odor-causing bacteria can build up at the back of the tongue and begin to smell. Scraping your tongue after you brush your teeth will help alleviate bacteria, food and dead cells. You can use your toothbrush or buy a tongue scraper. These are designed to apply even pressure across the back of the tongue and are easier to fit into the back of your mouth than a toothbrush.
Book in for a dental appointment
Booking in for regular dental appointments will ensure that your teeth, mouth and gums are healthy. If you are experiencing bad breath it could be a sign of early gum disease. Early treatment is recommended. Book a dental appointment now with Gentle Dental.
Many people don’t visit the dentist when they are experiencing sore gums. Since the pain is often less severe than toothache, sore gums are often overlooked. However, experiencing pain in your gums could be a sign of early gum disease.
Brushing or flossing too hard
Sore gums can be caused be a range of things including brushing or flossing. If you don’t usually experience sore gums, switching to a hard bristled toothbrush or flossing too hard can be enough to cause irritation and bleeding.
Take note of what type of toothbrush you have. If the bristles are hard or medium strength, they may irritate your gums. Try switching to a soft bristled brush and brushing and flossing gently around the mouth. You do not need to apply much pressure to your brush or floss to get a thorough clean.
If you are experiencing sore gums, it could be a sign of early gum disease. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. Symptoms include swollen or sore gums and bleeding when flossing and brushing. Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease and left untreated can lead to tooth loss and oral health problems.
If your gums look swollen, feel tender and bleed easily you may have gum disease. The best response is to see your dentist immediately.
Your diet can have a big effect on the health of your teeth and gums. Vitamin C helps keep the connective tissue found in our gums healthy and strong. Sailors lacking fruit and vegetables in their diet often suffered from diseases like scurvy, which causes the gums to bleed and bruise. While scurvy is no longer very common, a lack of vitamin C can still cause sensitivity or bleeding gums.
Vitamin A deficiency has also been linked to gum disease and other oral health concerns. Orange fruits and vegetables, oily fish, egg yolk, kumara, carrots, capsicum and pumpkin are all high in vitamin A and help keep your gums healthy.
Adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet or taking a multi-vitamin every day can help improve the health of your gums.
Smoking affects your oral health in many ways and can cause sore gums. The tobacco and carcinogens found in cigarettes can irritate the gum tissue and cause the gums to loosen over time. This provides more room for bacteria to settle around the teeth and gum disease to take hold.
If you suffer from gum disease and smoke your gums will find it harder to recover from gingivitis or periodontitis. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for the health of your teeth and gums.
Poor oral hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is a contributing factor to experiencing sore gums. If you aren’t brushing and flossing regularly and thoroughly, plaque and tartar can build up on the backs of your teeth and irritate the gums.
If you struggle to find time to brush your teeth establish a morning or nightly routine that works for your schedule. You don’t have to wait until you have had breakfast to brush your teeth. In fact, brushing your teeth when you first wake up in the morning has been proven to be more effective.
Struggle to brush right before bed? Try brushing your teeth two hours after dinner instead. Establishing oral hygiene habits you can stick to is important for the health of your teeth and gums.
What prevents sore gums?
A regular oral hygiene routine will help keep your gums healthy. Brushing twice a day for two minutes, flossing once per day and using fluoride toothbrush all help keep plaque and tartar at bay.
If you are looking after your teeth and gums and are showing signs of gum disease, take a look at your diet and lifestyle. Reducing stress, getting enough sleep, quitting smoking, eating well and regularly exercising all help to keep your body healthy.
Sore gum treatment
If you are experiencing sore gums, the first thing you should do is see your dentist. They can examine your mouth for signs of gum disease. They will also be able to provide a treatment plan for gingivitis or periodontitis and schedule you in for a hygiene checkup to remove stubborn tartar from the hard-to-reach parts of your teeth. Book an appointment with Gentle Dental today.
Electric toothbrushes are designed to make it easier to brush your teeth and help you keep your mouth clean, but are they really better at keeping plaque and tooth decay at bay? Here’s everything you need to know about swapping out your manual toothbrush for an electric model.
Electric toothbrush benefits
Studies show that people who use an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay and suffer less from tooth loss than those who use a manual toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes do a lot of the hard work for you and some models come with self-timers that make it easy to clean your teeth for the recommended two minutes, twice per day.
Electric toothbrushes have many benefits that make cleaning your teeth much easier.
1. Effective at removing plaque
Electric toothbrushes, especially ones with oscillating heads, are effective at removing plaque and food debris from teeth. The micro-movements of an electric toothbrush can clean teeth more thoroughly than a manual toothbrush. Studies show that using an electric toothbrush decreases plaque and gingivitis after just three months of use.
While you can still get a thorough clean from a manual brush more effort is required to clean each tooth thoroughly.
2. Perfect for all types of teeth
Electric toothbrushes have small heads which are perfect for getting into hard-to-reach places. If you have braces, gaps between teeth or a metal bar behind your teeth, an electric toothbrush can help to clean between the wires. Manual toothbrushes often have wider heads and are harder to maneuver into small hard-to-reach places.
3. Helpful for people with disabilities
Electric toothbrushes are suitable for people with mobility issues or disabilities that make brushing difficult. They are a great option for kids as they can also make cleaning your teeth more fun.
An electric toothbrush can prevent people with hand or wrist limitations from needing to make small, repetitive moments with their wrist or arm.
Some models of electric toothbrush come with built-in timers and can ensure you are brushing for a full two minutes.
Electric toothbrush cons
While electric toothbrushes have many benefits, there are a few downsides.
1. Electric toothbrushes are more expensive
When it comes to ditching your manual toothbrush for an electric model the main barrier many people face is the cost. While the average manual toothbrush will only set you back a couple of bucks, electric toothbrushes start at around $50. You’ll also need to pay for replacement heads and swap them out every few months.
While an electric model is more expensive, if you have trouble keeping your teeth clean it could save you money on dental bills down the line. With less plaque and less risk of developing gingivitis, opting for electric is a better choice when it comes to your oral health.
2. Manual toothbrushes can be more environmentally friendly
In recent years, bamboo toothbrushes have been marketed as an environmentally friendly way to brush your teeth. While bamboo or other recyclable toothbrushes can be better for the earth, they’re not always the best option for your teeth and gums.
Some manual toothbrushes (bamboo included) can include hard bristles which are abrasive on gums or are less effective at removing plaque. Furthermore, some bamboo brushes overstate their environmentally friendly claims. An investigation carried out by Consumer.org.nz found that some eco toothbrushes don’t live up to their claims of being 100% sustainable or biodegradable and included nylon and polyester in their brush bristles.
Which toothbrush is right for me?
At the end of the day choosing the right toothbrush comes down to personal choice. While you can still thoroughly clean your teeth with a manual toothbrush there are many benefits to investing in an electric model. Electric toothbrushes are great for people with mobility issues or braces or anyone who wants a thorough mouth clean.
Not sure if you would benefit from using an electric toothbrush? Book an appointment with our dental hygienist. After a thorough clean, we can discuss the best brush option for you.
Tooth discolouration and stains on teeth are common and happen for various reasons. The good news is that many of these stains are preventable. Some surface level stains are also treatable.
Here’s what you need to know about the causes of tooth discolouration and stains and what you can do to keep your teeth looking their best.
Types of Staining
- Extrinsic: The stains only affect the tooth’s enamel or surface.
- Intrinsic This type of stain is located within the tooth, making it more resistant to over-the-counter whitening products.
- Age-related: As we age, the outer enamel layer of our teeth wears away, and our gums can start to yellow. Age-related stains don’t happen overnight. Both extrinsic and intrinsic factors cause them.
What Causes Tooth Discolouration?
Eating, drinking, ageing, smoking, and tooth injuries all cause tooth discolouration. Certain types of food and drink can stain your teeth. Most people know that red wine and coffee can stain their teeth. However, other foods and drinks also contribute to the discolouration of tooth enamel:
Tea: Like coffee, tea contains tannins that stain our teeth’s white enamel. The research is still out on whether using milk in your tea or coffee can help prevent staining. However, limiting the amount of tea you drink can help.
Cola: The dark colouring of this soda, combined with acids and sugars, makes it particularly bad for teeth enamel. Soda will wear away at your teeth faster than other types of drinks.
Fruit juices: Dark-coloured fruit juices like blackberry, cranberry, and grape juice can stain your teeth. To avoid these from staining your teeth, drink these juices in moderation.
Tomato sauces: Tomatoes contain deep pigments that can cause teeth to stain over time.
Soy sauce: The dark colour of soy sauce can cause tooth enamel to stain.
While we don’t suggest avoiding eating soy sauce or tomato-based sauces, it is a good idea to limit the amount of soda and caffeine in your diet. Soda, in particular, has very little nutritional value, is high in sugar, and is highly acidic. Not only will it stain your teeth, the sugars and acid eat away at our teeth enamel and cause cavities.
Smoking: Once you start smoking, it doesn’t take long for the enamel of your teeth to begin to stain or yellow. Nicotine causes teeth to turn brown or yellow very quickly. The best way to prevent teeth from staining any further is to quit smoking (or not start at all). Smoking is bad for your teeth and gums in a lot of ways. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the gums which causes the jaw bones to weaken and teeth to loosen over time.
Age: Teeth naturally get more brittle with age and will stain or yellow more easily.
Injuries: If you have experienced trauma to your mouth an injuries can cause the damaged tooth or teeth to darken. It’s always a good idea to see your dentist after experiencing a mouth injury.
Antibiotics: Some medications cause tooth enamel to discolour. When mixed with saliva, medication can cause dark spots or stains to form on your tooth enamel. Often, these stains are not permanent as they develop below the surface of the tooth. This intrinsic staining can disappear once you finish the antibiotic cycle.
What Can You Do to Treat and Prevent Tooth Stains?
Tooth discolouration caused by aging is natural. However, you can prevent surface staining by changing your lifestyle.
Limit your intake of soda and caffeine. Switch to water and light-coloured herbal teas to prevent tooth staining. If you drink red wine often, try drinking water simultaneously to rinse your mouth between sips. Stop drinking soda or save it for special occasions.
Use at-home whitening kits. Whitening kits can lift stains from your teeth in as little as one or two days. However, many at-home products can cause teeth sensitivity and gum irritation.
Brush with a whitening toothpaste. Many effective tooth whitening products on the market are safe to use. While whitening toothpaste can remove some surface stains from teeth, it won’t change the natural colour of your tooth enamel or lighten intrinsic stains.
When Should You See a Dentist About Tooth Stains?
If you notice a change in the colour of your teeth and it doesn’t get better with a whitening product, it’s a good idea to follow up with your dentist. If the staining looks like a dark shadow, and nothing you try seems to remove the stain, it could be due to a deeper problem such as a cavity or demineralisation of the enamel.
If one single tooth is discoloured, it could mean that you have a cavity or a tooth injury. In this case, visit your dentist as soon as possible. Cavities can eventually lead to infection and tooth loss if left untreated.
The Bottom Line
The appearance of unwanted discolourations on your teeth can occur for many reasons, mainly related to your lifestyle. Limiting coffee, tea and soda and avoiding smoking will help keep your teeth enamel whiter for longer.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with having discoloured teeth. However, tooth discolouration sometimes signifies an underlying oral health issue. We recommend scheduling regular checkups with your dentist every six months to ensure your teeth enamel is healthy. Book a dental appointment now if you have noticed rapid discolouration of your tooth enamel.
Everybody knows that dentists recommend brushing your teeth for twice a day and that brushing should take two full minutes, for healthy teeth and gums. However, when to brush is another question. Is there any benefit to brushing when you wake up rather than waiting until after breakfast?
Most people brush their teeth after breakfast because it seems to make the most sense. After all, you don’t have to risk drinking orange juice with a minty tasting mouth. Plus, you can leave the house for work or school, knowing there’s no food lodged in your teeth.
However, there is data that suggests brushing when you wake up is more beneficial than waiting until after you’ve eaten for the first time.
Brushing your teeth at the same time each day can help create a regular habit. And, if brushing before or after breakfast helps you to remember to brush each morning, you may be better off sticking to your regular morning routine, regardless.
Why it might be better to brush your teeth before breakfast
When we sleep, we produce less saliva because our mouth is in a restful state. While this is good for our sleep cycle (and pillows) this lack of saliva dries our mouths out during the night and can leave us with a bad taste when we wake up.
There is another downside to producing less saliva overnight. While we sleep, plaque-causing bacteria are multiplying in our mouth. Sometimes our teeth can feel like they are coated in a slippery film when we wake up because there is no saliva to wash the plaque away.
Brushing when we wake up, washes away the bacteria and plaque that cling to our teeth. The fluoride in our toothpaste not only rids your teeth from cavity-causing nasties, but it also coats the enamel of our teeth with a protective layer that prevents acids from eating away at the tooth.
Brushing first thing in the morning also helps to kick-start saliva production.
The downsides of brushing your teeth after breakfast
Brushing your teeth before breakfast is more beneficial, but are there any downsides to waiting until after breakfast?
Dentists recommend waiting thirty minutes after you’ve eaten before brushing your teeth. For some people, there isn’t enough time in their morning routine to wait that long. However, if you brush your teeth immediately after eating breakfast rather than removing bacteria from your mouth, you can actually end up covering your teeth with remnants of acidic food. This can weaken the enamel of your teeth.
Some breakfast foods are actually bad for your tooth enamel. This is because they can be high in acids, or sugars, or when saliva breaks them down, they turn into sugar. If you eat the following foods in the morning, don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating:
- Citrus fruits – these fruits are high in natural acids. While citrus fruits are high in vitamin c and other nutrients, their acid erodes enamel making your teeth vulnerable to cavities. Eat citrus fruit in moderation and wash your mouth by rinsing or drinking water after you consume these fruits.
- Dried fruit – dried fruit has lots of good health benefits. However, the stickiness of dried fruit can make them cling to your teeth where they leave behind sugars which attack your tooth enamel. Always brush and floss at least 30 minutes after eating dried fruits and rinse your mouth by drinking water.
- White bread – when you eat highly processed bread, like the white variety, the saliva in your mouth breaks down the bread’s starch into sugar. White bread also turns into a gluey paste in your mouth, coating our teeth and crevices in between them where they release sugars which attack our tooth enamel. Switch to wholegrain breads instead.
- Orange juice — you may think that drinking orange juice is less harmful to your teeth than eating citrus fruit, but even the juice of an orange contains quite a lot of acid. Drink orange juice in moderation or drink alongside a glass of water so that the acids aren’t clinging to your teeth.
- Pastries — like white bread, pastries are high in sugar and can coat the mouth in a sugary paste when you chew. Make sure you drink plenty of water and brush your teeth after thirty minutes after you eat pastries. Pastries are high in fat and sugar and should not be consumed regularly.
Brushing after eating these foods can push the acids and sugars around your mouth where they can attack the delicate enamel coating on your teeth. However, if you brush your teeth before breakfast, the sugars from these foods will cling to your teeth for the rest of the day. So, what should you do?
If you consume any of the above foods for breakfast, wait at least thirty minutes before you brush your teeth. This way, you’ll rid your mouth of sugars and acid which can attack your enamel through the day while avoiding brushing sugars into your teeth.
Regular checkups are the best way to maintain and monitor oral health regardless of when you brush your teeth. If you need to book an appointment with a dental health professional, click here.