Top tips for dental hygiene from Dr Reena Wadia

Oral health tips from leading dental expert Dr Reena Wadia, who has a central London Clinic RW Perio, dedicated to the treatment of Periodontal gum diseases.

  • Brush twice a day using an electric toothbrush 

I’d recommend buying an electric (re-chargeable) toothbrush. These are far more effective at removing plaque because they’re designed to gently massage teeth and gums correctly - with many now having a pressure sensor that warns you if you’re pressing too hard. You need to place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the spot where the gums and teeth meet, angle upwards for the upper teeth and downwards for the lower teeth. Spend a few seconds per tooth. For those with established gum disease, you are likely to need more than 2 minutes.

  • Always use a toothpaste that contains fluoride

Always use a toothpaste containing fluoride. If you have specific issues e.g. tooth sensitivity, find a toothpaste which helps tackle this. Always spit and don’t rinse out your mouth after using the toothpaste or it will wash away all the ‘good stuff’!

  • Clean in between your teeth

You wouldn’t wash only one side of a dirty dish, and then put it back in the cupboard to use again tomorrow, would you? When you brush your teeth, you’re only washing half of the surfaces of your teeth, front and back. You’re neglecting the two sides your toothbrush doesn’t touch. This leaves the sides of your teeth and the area near the gum line dirty, like only washing one side of a dish! Flossing or use of interdental brushes between your teeth is the way to get into these “nooks and crannies,” which need to be kept clean just as much as the rest of your teeth for good gum health. Interdental brushes are your first choice if these fit in between your teeth. They come in various sizes and you need to ensure a snug fit so go for the largest size that fits. You’ll often need a variety of sizes. If the interdental brushes don’t fit then floss is your next best option

  • If you want to use a mouthwash, use it at a different time to brushing

This is great as a breath freshener but should be used at a different time to brushing or it will wash away all the ‘good stuff’ in the toothpaste.

  • Clean your tongue 

Tongue scraping/cleaning can be a helpful part of your oral healthcare regime. The tongue is made up of lots of little crypts, which can harbour bacteria and debris. If these are not regularly removed, a tongue coating forms and this is one of the biggest causes of bad breath. Once you’ve got used to it, your mouth won’t feel clean without it!

  • Do not smoke

Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for gum/periodontal disease. It increases both risk and severity. Smokers have deeper pockets and more bone loss. This can all lead to loose teeth and tooth loss. As the nicotine affects the blood vessels in the gums, bleeding gums is not common in smokers.

  • Healthy diet 

A healthy diet is important in oral and general health. Ensure you have a well-balanced diet with sufficient fresh fruit and vegetable intake. Diet modification is preferred to the use of supplements. With fruit, as it can be acidic, try not to spread it out throughout the day (focus on a good amount but limit the frequency). Avoid frequent intakes of sugar. 

  • Visit the dentist regularly not just when you’re in pain

Depending on how at risk you are of dental disease you may need to visit the dentist more/less often but a yearly visit at minimum is likely to be a good idea for most people. Remember dentistry isn’t expensive, neglect it!

  • Bright and white 

Advanced polishing with Airflow aims to remove stains that traditional scaling and polishing may not remove. This system uses a combination of flavoured fine powder particles, compressed air and water. Patients do not experience any sensitivity or discomfort. The results are immediate and leave patients with cleaner teeth and fresher breath. If that’s not enough then teeth whitening could be an option. This involves bleaching your teeth to make them lighter. It’s important to be aware that it will only whiten natural teeth. Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and should only be carried out by a dentist or another regulated dental professional, such as a dental hygienist or dental therapist, on the prescription of a dentist. Some beauty salons offer teeth whitening, but this is illegal if there's no dental professional present, and it may put your oral health at risk. The most predictable form of whitening is home whitening. The dentist will take an impression of your teeth to make a mouthguard and tell you how to use it with a bleaching gel. Then, using your mouthguard at home, you regularly apply the gel for a specified period of time over 2 to 4 weeks. To optimise the results you should minimise foods and drinks which can stain your teeth easily such a coffee, tea and red wine.