The younger we are when we are taught to do something, the more likely we are to stay faithful to that early learning. Because parents are only human, and they learned from the generation before them, the lessons we absorbed at an early age can be challenged as we grow older, which has the potential to be awkward!
Let’s take speech and language as an example. There are words which are used or pronounced differently depending on which part of the UK you come from, or indeed if you are brought up speaking English in a different part of the world. That wonderful “You say potato, I say potato” Gershwin song sums up the big divide. Some people get into fierce debates when they disagree!
When it comes to dental routines, our parents instil the habits that they probably learned from their parents. But what if they were mistaken? What if we were wrongly indoctrinated? These can be difficult habits to challenge!
So, we urge you to spare a thought for our hygienist, Gosia. Sometimes she has to try and tell someone that their teeth cleaning routine learned in childhood needs rethinking! Or that their food and drink choices are harming their teeth. These are not easy messages.
One of the most common myths that needs to be dispelled is that you should rinse your mouth after brushing. Many of our patients have been taught this. But this is not good practice because it washes the fluoride toothpaste out of the mouth. Dental professionals want that fluoride toothpaste coating your teeth for as long as possible.
A familiar mantra in dentistry is: ‘Brush twice a day’, which is good advice. With braces on, however, you might need more than that. If possible, we recommend you clean around braces after lunch. If you don’t have time to brush, you could rinse out your mouth with alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash.
The best timing for tooth-brushing is probably immediately after you get up and just before you go to sleep. That way you remove any plaque that might have built up overnight before you get on with your day and you go to bed at night with a beneficial layer of fluoride toothpaste coating your teeth.
There is another essential part of the regime and this is using floss or minibrushes. We advise that you clean between your teeth before you have brushed. Why? Because this makes sure the debris is removed.
The important thing is to keep snacking to a minimum. The saliva in your mouth helps neutralise acids. If you keep snacking, however, the saliva does not have the time to go back to a healthy pH and the acid stays high.
Getting your dental care right is so important and especially when you are in braces. Cleaning thoroughly is much harder. But we are on a mission to ensure that all our patients end their treatment with healthy teeth as well as straight teeth. Try and see a hygienist every four to six months for a thorough clean.