How would you rate your dental health? Do you brush your teeth twice a day? Do you gargle with mouthwash?
The National Dental Centre Singapore recommends brushing your teeth at least twice daily – once in the morning and once more at night before you sleep, for at least two minutes each time. However, even if you do brush your teeth twice and day and use mouthwash, you also have to look at how you brush your teeth. We’re not just talking about the fact that you’re not supposed to brush horizontally along the gum line which can cause the gum to recede.
When to brush your teeth
Most of us brush our teeth before we sleep, but it’s important to ensure that it’s at least 30-45 minutes after a meal. This is because food reduces your mouth’s pH level, making it more acidic so brushing your teeth at this time can remove the enamel.
Simply wait until your saliva gradually clears out the acid and restore the pH level before brushing.
Spit, don’t rinse your toothpaste
Toothpastes have fluoride to help prevent tooth decay – it strengthens the tooth enamel and reduces the amount of acid that the bacteria on your teeth produce. This is why most countries also add fluoride to their water supply, even our very own PUB.
So what do you do after your teeth are brushed? A poll conducted by the Oral Health Foundation found that 62% of us rinse our mouth with water after brushing, which is actually the wrong thing to do.
This is because rinsing our mouth with water washes away the protective fluoride left behind by brushing. So we just have to remember to “spit not rinse.” If you paid attention to movies and TV shows with characters who brush their teeth, you’ll notice that they don’t rinse.
If you don’t like the feel of toothpaste residue in your mouth, rinse with only a teaspoon of water in your mouth and then spit.
When to use mouthwash
But what about mouthwash? One in seven people rinse their mouth out with mouthwash, and as you’ve guessed, mouthwash also rinses away fluoride.
If you use mouthwash, the recommendation is to wait a couple of hours after brushing your teeth. If you’re using a fluoride mouthwash, don’t eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after rinsing your mouth to keep the fluoride around.
Other tips on oral health
Do you floss? While it doesn’t necessarily prevent tooth decay, it does help keep your gums healthy by removing plaque that forms along the gum line. The best time to floss your teeth is before brushing your teeth so that the toothbrush can remove all particles from your mouth later. The fluoride in your toothpaste will also do a better job of protecting your teeth when particles are removed first.
Another tip on preventing tooth decay? Avoid snacking on too much sugary foods like bubble tea – sugar molecules combine with saliva and bacteria present in the mouth to create plaque that can dissolve enamel.