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Myth or fact: top tips for perfect teeth

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With so many differring reports surrounding dental hygiene, it can be hard to know which advice to follow to achieve that perfect Hollywood smile, just like Cheryl Fernandez-Versini's. From whitening toothpastes to flossing and mouthwash, as well as the latest brightening and lightening treatments, what really is the best way to look after our teeth? Surprisingly, much of the hype surrounding dental hygiene is actually a myth... 

cherylcole © Photo: Getty Images
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has one of the nation's favourite smiles

Dr Sameer Patel, Clinical Director at award-winning specialist dental and orthodontic practice Elleven, distinguishes myth from fact and thus establishes the 11 steps for a perfect oral hygiene routine.1. You should wait to brush your teeth until after breakfast. – MYTH!FACT: You should brush your teeth as soon you wake up to brush away the bacteria that has formed in your mouth overnight. Then after you have eaten breakfast, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash.2. Rinse your mouth out with water after you have brushed your teeth. – MYTH!FACT: Do not rinse after you have brushed your teeth as this washes away the fluoride in the toothpaste which is good for your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. Just spit out the excess toothpaste.3. You should brush your teeth as soon as you have finished eating. – MYTH!FACT: You should wait for 30 – 40 minutes to allow saliva to naturally neutralise the low PH in the mouth caused by food and drinks before brushing. If you brush straight away the acid in the mouth gets brushed into the teeth and causes erosion and loss of tooth enamel, making the teeth sensitive and weaker over time.

4. You should brush your teeth after each meal, especially if it is sugary. – MYTH! 

FACT: You should only brush your teeth two to three times a day. Over-brushing may result in gum recession and wear of your teeth. Try and brush after lunch if you can, waiting for 30 minutes before you do so or rinse with a fluoride mouthwash.

5. Electric toothbrushes are better than a manual toothbrush. – MYTH!FACT: Both electric and manual toothbrushes are fine to use on your teeth, however you need to have the correct manual technique if you opt for the latter. If your technique is not as good manually, then you will see a difference in your oral hygiene if you switch to an electric toothbrush.


Follow Dr Sameer Patel's 11 steps to perfect oral hygiene

6. You should change your toothbrush every 6 months. – MYTH!

FACT: You need to change your toothbrush every 3 months. After 3 months or so, the bristles start to fray and will not clean teeth or gums adequately. The bristles start to lose their effectiveness when trying to reach tricky parts of the mouth.

7. A hard bristled toothbrush is best to clean away all the food debris stuck between your teeth. – MYTH! FACT: You should never use a hard bristled toothbrush; always use a medium-soft bristled toothbrush because it is far kinder to your teeth. Using a hard bristled toothbrush will damage the gums, root surface and protective tooth enamel.

8. You cannot keep your toothbrush in the bathroom as it is unhygienic. – MYTH!

FACT: It is fine to keep it in the bathroom, but it needs to be covered with a toothbrush cover or kept in a drawer or cupboard so it does not pick up unnecessary germs that will then end up in your mouth.

9. Brushing alone, twice a day, is sufficient to keeping your teeth clean. – MYTH!

FACT: Brushing is very important but you need to floss your teeth at least once a day, preferably at night to make sure that bits of food that may be stuck in your teeth are completely removed before you go to sleep. The bacteria in your mouth multiplies faster at night so your mouth needs to be as clean as possible when you go to sleep to prevent dental problems building up throughout the night.

10. Flossing is good for your teeth and gums no matter how you do it. – MYTH!

FACT: Flossing is essential to your daily oral hygiene routine, however there is a particular technique to flossing that you must use to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Pass the floss gently through the contact point between the teeth and then rub the floss up and down the sides of each tooth and each side of the gingival papillae (pink triangle of the gum between the teeth), pull the floss out gently from the space under the gingival papilla or back through the contact points. Never pull the floss backwards and forwards on the gum as this will cause damage.

11. You must floss after brushing to get out any food left behind in between your teeth. – MYTH!

FACT: Floss before you brush to loosen any food debris, flossing prior to brushing will act like a pre-wash for the teeth. Then brush your teeth and spit the toothpaste out but don’t rinse with water, this will keep fluoride on the teeth and help prevent the build up of plaque which can lead to cavities.

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