With all the dental hygiene products and gadgets on the market, it can be confusing to know what works and what doesn’t.
Sydney-based dentist Dr Bobby Chhoker helps bust some of the most commonly held myths about how to look after your teeth.
Is DIY teeth whitening safe?
If you’ve picked up a DIY teeth whitening kit, you can rest assured you're in safe hands.
“The safety aspect is virtually assured by the regulatory framework that restricts the potency of the whitening agents used in DIY methods as opposed to what the dentist is permitted to use,” Dr Chhoker explains. “What this means is you actually get a more rapid result when you go to a licenced practitioner, but this is often offset by the convenience of the DIY system.”
Are traditional braces the best way to straighten teeth?
“When used on appropriate cases, clear aligners achieve wonderful results and at the same time eliminate much of the discomfort and inconvenience that goes with traditional braces,” he explains.
The alternate options are best suited to those with minor to moderate alignment issues, or for those who have worn braces when they were younger and suffered a relapse.
“The advent of digital technology and 3D printing has hugely simplified the treatment planning and manufacture of the aligners," Dr Chhoker says. "Consequently, this has created an opportunity for those who once may have just decided to live with their crooked or misaligned teeth, to seek out a solution."
Does natural or charcoal toothpaste really work?
When selecting the type of toothpaste you use, Dr Chhoker says to keep one thing in mind.
“Aside from all the marketing hype and anecdotal claims, there is no actual evidence that shows dental products with charcoal are safe or effective for your teeth,” he says. “There is however, evidence to suggest that using materials that are too abrasive on your teeth can actually make them look more yellow. Enamel is what you’re looking to whiten, but if you’re using a scrub that is too rough, you can actually wear it away.”
So, no matter what you use, Dr Chhoker recommends it’s better to be gentle otherwise the next layer of your tooth can become exposed – a softer, yellow tissue called dentin.
Is a ‘hard’ brush better than a ‘soft’?
Although scrubbing away at your teeth with a hard-bristle toothbrush may feel like the best clean, it’s probably causing more damage than anything else.
“For the vast majority of people, a soft-bristled toothbrush will be the most comfortable and safest choice,” Dr Chhoker says. “Depending on how vigorously you brush your teeth and the strength of your teeth, medium and hard-bristled brushes may actually damage the gums, root surface, and protective tooth enamel.”
Flossing or piksters?
The debate continues to rage over whether you should use floss or piksters, but why not use both?
“If you don’t use the right tool then you may not get the best results,” Dr Chhoker says. “Dental floss is great for cleaning in-between the teeth, where the toothbrush and the piksters can’t reach.”
He also reveals that piksters are great for cleaning under the gums as this is the area where gum disease often starts.
And if flossing is really not your thing, Dr Chokker says the pikster brush can be used between teeth, but be mindful that not everyone can fit the brush adequately between each tooth.
“Only those with a slight space between their teeth at the gum line will find this to be a viable option,” he explains. “If you have to force it into that area, it may cause gum recession, which is irreversible.”
How many times day should you brush?
Dr Chhoker reveals that brushing your teeth three times a day is ideal, but for practical purposes, twice daily is acceptable.
“If you can brush once after every meal, you minimise the growth of bacteria in your mouth. But, you should try and wait an hour after each meal as it's believed that brushing too soon can cause damage to the enamel of your teeth.”
Should you brush your teeth before or after meals?
You often hear people say they will only brush their teeth before or after meals, but which is best?
“If all of the plaque (and thus the most damaging bacteria) are removed, theoretically brushing before you eat should offer approximately the same benefit as brushing after,” Dr Chhoker says. “However, there will be food particles left in-between your teeth after you eat, so you probably get more benefit brushing after eating than before.”
Just remember to wait an hour after eating to get cleaning.