How to Avoid Fillings and Stains: The Secrets of Dental Health

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As you are undoubtedly aware, World Oral Health Day – the Christmas of the dental hygiene world – falls on 20th March, meaning there’s no better time to brush up on your mouth care regime. Statistics from National Smile Month, which is organised by the British Dental Health Foundation, suggest plenty of people in the UK need to do just that. One in four adults, including a third of men, don’t brush their teeth twice a day. One in ten adults also admit they regularly forget to brush their teeth, while a quarter have never used mouthwash and a third have never flossed. As a result of this dental disarray, 84% of adults have one or more fillings, and the average is seven.

Measures need to be taken. Brushing your teeth twice daily and using floss is sound, but familiar, advice, so here are five tips you might not have come across.

Five Tips for Better Oral Health

1. Once you’ve brushed your teeth, don’t rinse out your mouth with water or mouthwash, as this will wash away the protective fluoride from toothpaste.

2. A Cochrane Review in 2014 found that using an electric toothbrush results in a 21% reduction in plaque compared with a manual brush after three months.

3. After a meal, treat yourself to a small chunk of cheese, which contains alkali and will neutralise acids left by food, which can damage tooth enamel.

4. If you’re concerned about bad breath lick your wrist, let it dry and then smell. (Obviously you’ll need a clean wrist for this to work.)

5. You should brush your teeth before breakfast to remove the overnight build-up of bacteria, which use the food we eat to produce acid, causing tooth decay.

How Foods Stain your Teeth

Even if your dental hygiene game is strong, you can still end up with stained teeth. There are three culprits in food and drinks: chromogens, which are pigment-producing substances that latch on and cause stains, and acids and tannins that soften up and erode enamel, making it easier for the chromogens to stick to it.

Red wine, the standard bearer of teeth stainers, contains all three. Other big stainers include dark berries, coffee, tea, balsamic vinegar and white wine, which softens up the teeth for other food to stain through the acids and tannins it contains.

Rinse and brush your teeth within an hour of eating to prevent a darker hue from infecting your gnashers. Don’t brush immediately though, as the acid-softened enamel could be damaged by your efforts to save it.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.