Dental appointments are ever harder to come by. The pandemic backlog, coupled with a shortage of dentists, means that patients in some areas of the country are facing agonising delays for crucial treatments.
Calls to emergency dentists have shot up 452 per cent since last year in some parts of the UK, according to the NHS users’ watchdog Healthwatch.
The British Dental Association has warned of a postcode lottery for treatment, with patients in certain areas forced to wait up to a year for an urgent tooth extraction.
And with surveys showing that 40 per cent of dentists are considering taking early retirement in the next year, the problem will only get worse.
If ever there was a time to look after your oral health at home, and avoid trips to the dentist, it’s now.
The good news is that most dental problems are entirely preventable. Gum disease affects almost half of Britons and is the precursor to the majority of oral health conditions.
If ever there was a time to look after your oral health at home, and avoid trips to the dentist, it’s now. The good news is that most dental problems are entirely preventable. Gum disease affects almost half of Britons and is the precursor to the majority of oral health conditions.
The build-up of bacteria eventually causes ulcers, infections and, ultimately, tooth loss.
And it’s our everyday habits, such as whether we brush our teeth before or after eating, and what we choose to snack on, that can encourage bacteria to accumulate, increasing the risk of gum disease.
To find out what you should, and more importantly shouldn’t be doing, we spoke to dental experts who revealed a raft of simple steps that will help better protect your mouth from the perils of oral bacteria.
From exactly when to use mouthwash, to how to stand when brushing, here’s everything you need to know to save yourself a trip – or three – to the dentist.
1) ALWAYS BRUSH BEFORE BREAKFAST
It might seem sensible to brush after you’ve eaten breakfast – but don’t.
‘It is the worst thing you can do,’ says Dr Mervyn Druian, dentist and founder of the London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry.
‘Eating food causes a build-up of acid in the mouth. And if you drink orange or grapefruit juice, it’s even worse.’
This acid causes a temporary softening of the tooth enamel – and brushing when enamel is soft can erode it.
It might seem sensible to brush after you’ve eaten breakfast – but don’t. [File image]
Dr Druian says: ‘I always recommend brushing teeth as soon as you wake up, and not again until you’re about to go to bed.
‘Some people start their day with lemon and hot water, then brush their teeth straight afterwards, which makes the teeth very soft. And this can be disastrous, causing teeth to become ultra-sensitive, thin and brittle.’
2) LEAN FORWARD TO GET TO THE DIFFICULT BITS
Most people don’t brush their teeth properly,