London: A dentist who works at an award-winning clinic has revealed the five things you can do to look after your teeth. Dr. Safa Al-Naher, who is a dentist and facial aesthetics practitioner and trainer, is the clinical lead at her family-run dental clinics The Care Dental Practice and Care Dental Platinum in Hammersmith, West London.
The expert warns that after dental practices have been ordered to close for the foreseeable future except for emergency hubs which have been set up to see patients who are in pain it is now more important than ever to take care of your teeth to prevent pain and disease.
Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, Dr. Safa has lifted the lid on the best way to keep your teeth and gums healthy and pain-free – including using fluoride toothpaste rather than ‘herbal’ alternatives, and making a simple saltwater solution if you’re struggling to get hold of a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash.
1. USE FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE
Now is not the time to switch to a ‘herbal’ or fluoride-free toothpaste. Fluoride is best used topically on teeth to make them stronger, and more resistant to tooth decay, and it is the only substance that can help to reverse early tooth decay.
This is especially important if you find yourself snacking more at home. Please remember to use age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste for your children and to supervise their brushing – do it for them if necessary – until they are at least six years old.
2. USE SALTWATER OR HYDROGEN PEROXIDE MOUTHWASH
Mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing, but it can be a useful disinfectant, especially when there is a killer virus going around. Studies have shown that hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes have antiviral properties that could help to kill viruses such which have been shown to live in the mouth and throat for approximately four days.
Don’t worry if you can’t get hold of it – a simple saltwater mouthwash is a good homemade alternative. Just dissolve a teaspoon of salt in half a cup of warm water, bathe your teeth and gums in it, gargle and spit.
3. BRUSH TWICE A DAY AND USE FLOSS/INTERDENTAL BRUSHES
It is important to remember to brush your teeth before breakfast and before bed. Use a small, soft toothbrush placed on the margin of your teeth and gums, and use a small vibrating movement to break up the bacteria and plaque.
You do not need to brush plaque away, as this might also brush away enamel – disturbing it is enough to interrupt the process of decay and gum disease. Your toothbrush will not reach in between the teeth, so use floss to wipe the sides of the teeth, or small interdental picks or brushes to ensure all surfaces are suitably cleaned.
4. AVOID SNACKING ON SUGARY FOODS
Our teeth are designed to be attacked by acid no more than three times a day – these being at mealtimes. Any more often than that and you run the risk of developing tooth decay. This includes fruits, fruit juices, and smoothies!
Keep sugary food and fruits to mealtimes – or 40 minutes before or after – and choose sugar-free snacks instead, for example, cheese, vegetables, or crackers.
5. HAVE AN EMERGENCY KIT READY
It is sensible to have some painkillers at home in case dental pain does come on. Paracetamol, co-codamol, and ibuprofen – as long as not display symptoms – are all effective analgesics for dental pain.
You may also want to add a temporary filling dental kit, which is available from most pharmacies and supermarkets, in case a filling or crown comes out and you need to temporarily cement it. Unfortunately, it is not known when dentists will be able to resume providing normal and routine treatment.