World Oral Health Day: Ten tips to maintain healthy teeth and gums

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  Posted by: Dental Design      20th March 2023

On World Oral Health Day (20th March), EXTRA Gum has revealed its top ten tips to help keep the nation’s teeth and gums healthy, following shocking research that over a third (34 per cent) of ‘Gen Z’ would resort to ‘DIY’ dentistry, including self-tooth extraction, due to a lack of access to a dentist.

The findings, from the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme’s Oral Health Index, revealed that 16 – 24-year-olds are feeling the most pressure to resort to such extreme measures, due to a lack of access to dental care.

In fact, sixty-eight per cent of those surveyed agreed that there is a crisis in the provision of dental services, and over half (54 per cent) agree there is a postcode lottery when it comes to accessing dental services – with many experts calling for greater awareness of prevention tactics.

Dr Ben Atkins, Dentist and Oral Health Foundation Trustee, says: “Achieving healthy teeth takes a lifetime of care. While we know more can be done to promote oral health, we must not discredit the low-cost, impactful prevention tactics Brits can start adopting today. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing are important steps, but in addition sugarfree gum is an effective, accessible and inexpensive way to protect teeth on the go.” 

The Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme’s Oral Health Index highlights the important role that at-home prevention measures can play in protecting the oral health of the nation, particularly while many people across the UK are struggling to access regular dental care.

Good oral hygiene habits can help prevent cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems. Brushing and flossing are staples in a good dental routine. However, there are other things you can do to help maintain healthy teeth and gums.

On World Oral Health Day, it’s time to brush up on your smile to ensure you’re keeping your teeth and gums healthy – from the usual brushing and flossing to chewing sugar-free gum!

  1. Two minutes, twice a day: It may sound obvious, but brushing at least twice daily, ideally last thing at night and at one other time during the day is important because it removes plaque which can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
  2. Finding the perfect brush: It doesn’t matter if you use an electric or manual toothbrush, both are equally good, as long as you use them correctly. Best practice includes using a soft-bristled toothbrush, with a small head (no larger than 1.5 cm) and a long thin neck to reach the back teeth.
  3. Use mouthwash (but only at the right time): Don’t rinse (even if using a fluoride mouthwash) after toothbrushing as this will wash away the fluoride and stop the toothpaste from being so effective. Consider a different time to use mouthwash to when you brush your teeth, such as after lunch.
  4. It’s also a no to H2O (immedently after brushing): As with fluoride mouthwash, you should spit out after brushing and avoid rinsing your mouth out with water, which will wash away the fluoride and reduce the benefits.
  5. Chew sugar-free gum after you’ve eaten a meal:  After eating or drinking, plaque acids can attack teeth and initiate the demineralisation of the tooth surface, which can weaken teeth and lead to decay over time. Chewing 2-3g of sugar-free gum, like Extra®, for 20 minutes three times a day increases the production of saliva which can help neutralise plaque acid, wash away food particles and maintains tooth enamel to strengthen teeth. In fact, the evidence of sugarfree gum was proven through a 2022 systematic review by King’s College London which demonstrated that sugarfree gum reduces the quantity of plaque in the oral cavity and could reduce cavities by 28%[1]. Why not keep some in your bag or in the car – an easy way to clean away the day’s debris.
  6. Try to brush your tongue: A build-up of plaque on the tongue is not only bad for mouth odour but can also lead to other oral health problems. Brushing your tongue will help freshen your breath and will clean your mouth by removing bacteria.
  7. Snacking worth smiling about: It is not the amont of sugary foods and drinks that we eat that causes the most damage, it is how often we have them. Choose snacks, such as cheese, bread sticks, rice cakes, raw vegetables, nuts and seeds. Try to avoid dried fruit which can stick in the teeth and cause decay
  8. Reduce plaque attacks: When we eat or drink anything, the sugars react with the plaque in our mouths and produce plaque acids. These plaque acids lower the pH level in our mouth and our mouths become acidic, this is the time that the enamel on our teeth is under attack and at risk of dental decay. After eating or drinking anything wait for one hour before brushing your teeth, this will allow the saliva to re-mineralise the enamel, if you brush too soon, you could brush any loosened particles of enamel away which could eventually lead to enamel erosion.
  9. Brush smarter not harder: develop effective brushing habits so you can have healthier teeth. Placing the head of your toothbrush against your teeth, then tilt the bristle tops to a 45 degree angle against the gumline and brush in small circular movements for 2-3 minutes. Try putting music on and brush for the length of a song, or try apps like ‘Brush DJ’ which can be used for this – its free an anyone can use it!
  10. Out with the old: Change your toothbrush every 3 months or as soon as the filaments begin to splay.

The Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme is proud to work with dental professionals to promote the role of at-home oral health tools that play an important role in preventative oral healthcare. Measures like brushing twice a day and flossing are key, whilst tools like sugar-free gum can play a vital part in protecting people’s oral health when they’re on the go.

[1] Nasseripour M, Newton JT, Warburton F, et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Role of Sugar-Free Chewing Gum on Plaque Quantity in the Oral Cavity. AND Front Oral Health. 2022;3:845921. Published 2022 Mar 30. doi:10.3389/froh.2022.845921 Banerjee A. et al (2019). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the role of sugar-free chewing gum in dental caries. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31743654/


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