News & blogs Blogs and vlogs Oral health habits for life: five out and five in 20 March 2018 If you really think about your health, no matter whether you talk about your oral health, your diet or general fitness, it really does all come down to habitual behaviour, whether good or bad. Want to get fitter? Start by getting into the habit of doing thirty minutes of rigorous exercise every day. Worried about what you’re eating? Get into the habit of using the Eatwell Guide when it comes to planning your meals. But what about your oral health? Many people out there might have bad habits but perhaps aren’t aware that they could have an impact on their oral health. So, for the Oral Health Foundation, I’ve compiled a list of the top five bad habits that you need to kick and five habits to replace them with. Don’t snack all day! This is a habit that a lot of us are guilty of. You’re busy all day, running around like a mad person trying to get all your errands for the day done and instead of sitting down and having a few proper meals each day, you actually end up having loads of snacks. I’d bet they aren’t all healthy either! Anything with sugar in it like biscuits or sweets can cause tooth decay, even more so if it’s habitual and you do it most days. Generally, it’s much better for your oral health and general health if you eat three meals a day instead of snacking but if you’re desperate for a quick bite between mealtimes, then try to stick to the savoury side. Cheese, raw vegetables and breadsticks are just a few examples! And snack no more than twice a day. Do chew sugar-free gum This one’s for you serial snackers out there. Chewing sugar-free gum can be a great way of keeping your mouth busy and keep your mind off of harmful snacks that can wreak havoc on your teeth. In addition, after you’ve eaten a meal, sugar-free gum can reduce the acid attack which follows and help your teeth remineralise. It helps the mouth produce more saliva, which, is the mouth’s natural defence against acid. So, keep some around at your desk, in your car or in your bag and chew between meal times and take care of your oral health while you’re on the go. Don’t drink fizzy drinks Believe it or not but this a habit that can have a really detrimental effect on your oral health for two big reasons. Not only can they cause tooth erosion, because of their acidity, but they often also contain heaps of sugar, which is known to cause decay. Even if you just have one bottle or one can a day, it can do huge damage. It takes about an hour for your teeth to remineralise and recover after coming into contact with acid and sugar, no matter how little or long the contact time is. So, think about sipping one bottle of fizzy drink throughout a working day. Your teeth would never get a break! A habit to ditch for sure! Do drink water Plain and simple – water is king. Not only do our bodies need water to work properly and avoid dehydration but it is also the best choice of drink you can have when it comes to your teeth. Water isn’t acidic. Water isn’t sugary. Water isn’t harmful to your teeth in any way. So, try to go for a drink of water especially if you like to have something to sip on throughout the day. Don’t rinse your mouth out after you spit This is perhaps one of the less obvious ones. It’s not a case that you do harm to your teeth by rinsing out with water after brushing. It’s more that your taking away something that could make them stronger. Fluoride can be a great help to your dental health because it strengthens the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. It’s a natural mineral and its found in many foods and water supplies but because of how good it is for your teeth, it’s also in many toothpastes. But when you rinse your mouth out after brushing you wash away the fluoride that could be giving protection to your teeth long after you’ve finished brushing. Ditch the rinse and let the fluoride work – it’s dental magic! Do clean in between your teeth Did you know that your toothbrush can only clean around 60% of your teeth’s surfaces? This is because toothbrushes aren’t currently equipped to clean the spaces in-between teeth. They simply cannot reach. And guess where most tooth decay and gum disease begin… Whether you prefer to use floss or interdental brushes, it’s so important to make sure you don’t neglect those tight spaces between your teeth. At least once a day, try and make cleaning those spaces routine. Don’t brush straight after eating Now I know that I’m not the only one that’s been guilty of this in the past! Brushing straight after you’ve eaten or even drunk something. While it might make sense to do it, especially if you’re in a rush to go to bed, it’s not something you should be doing at all. Reason being is when you eat or drink something, especially if it’s acidic or sugary, it weakens the top surface of your teeth (enamel). Brushing straight away can cause particles of enamel to be brushed away, which after time can leave you teeth sensitive and painful. You’ve got to wait that hour for your teeth to remineralise before you take a brush to them. Do be Mouthaware Bit of a solemn one here but still very important. A lot of us try to ignore some problems when they arise and hope they go away but your mouth is most certainly an area you should be taking any risks with. Mouth cancer is a potentially deadly disease that can affect any one of us. The key to surviving is early detection and diagnosis. Any unusual changes you spot in or around your mouth whether it be ulcers that don’t heal, white or red patches, a lump or bump should prompt you to visit a dentist or doctor as soon as possible. If in doubt, get checked out! Be proactive and make an appointment with your dentist or doctor. Don’t use your mouth to open things This is one that needs little explanation. Whether it’s a bottle, a packet or a tough nut, the bottom line is, your teeth are not tools! The same goes for chewing pens, pencils or even fingernails. All these things have the potential to weaken, chip or even crack your teeth. When you’re sitting in the dental chair about to fork out hundreds for treatment, you’ll wish you just used the bottle opener for the purpose you bought it for! Do attend your appointments! Last but by no means least. Your dental team will be able to tell you how often you should be visiting and it’s likely to vary person to person. For some it may be once every three months. Others, once every six or even twelve or eighteen. The important thing is to make sure you visit regularly, as often as they recommend and not just when you have a problem that needs fixing. Dentists may also be able to spot problems early and tackle them before they become serious issues. Not to mention that as part of every check-up your dentist will carry out a visual examination on you to look for the early signs of mouth cancer. Put simply, a trip to the dentist could save your life.