Rachel’s Round up: Tips from the TCO room

Quite often my knowledge and experience as an oral health educator comes into play customer serviceduring my treatment coordinator sessions (another benefit of having an ex-tended skills nurse)
Education, health and prevention are very much at the heart of our practice as they should be any practice so it’s important that team members feel comfortable and confident answering patient questions relating to oral health. Here are some of those frequency asked questions:

What age should I start brushing my baby’s teeth? And should I use toothpaste?
As soon as your child cuts their first tooth you should introduce a toothbrush. At this stage they will more interested in taking it off you and chewing it, buts it’s important that they get used to the feeling and the routine. To begin with use the toothbrush dry without tooth-paste as all they will do is suck the toothpaste off. As a few more teeth come through then introduce an age appropriate toothpaste (this is due to a reduced amount of Fluoride) but only use a smear, again at this stage they will still suck the toothpaste off but its important to get them used to the taste.
Try to avoid the fruity or bubble gum flavours, adult toothpaste is always minty and when the time comes for you little ones to use the family toothpaste it could pose quite a battle.

Should I brush my teeth before or after breakfast?
A question we are asked All the time. Well Every time we eat or drink our mouths become an acidic environment which can naturally weaken the enamel on our teeth and it is for this reason we recommend brushing before eating or waiting at least 30minutes after eating before you brush.
If you brush well at night but have a tight schedule in the morning meaning you don’t have 30minutes to wait between eating and brushing then brush before breakfast. If you can waiting 30minutes after eating then brush after eating.

But I brush really well before I go to bed does this still mean I should brush before breakfast?
The bacteria in our mouths feed off carbohydrates (sugars). If you brush your teeth before bed then the bacteria in our mouths have no sugar to utilise and cause decay.
Also the flow of saliva which helps to cleanse our teeth slows down at night when we are asleep leaving the mouth more at risk from decay. So the answer really does de-pend on your personal routine?

I want to use a mouthwash, but I look at the supermarket shelves and there are so many! Which one should I choose?
If you have been advised by a dental professional to use a mouthwash then for gen-eral day to day use you should ideally look at using a mouthwash that has antibacte-rial properties and contains fluoride.
All mainstream branded mouthwashes have to undergo strict clinical trials before go-ing on general sale to ensure they do what they claim to do. But many high street stores or supermarkets now also do their own versions which are cheaper but are they any better?
Using own brand mouthwash will leave you with a cleaner feeling mouth and yes you’ll have saved some pennies but you many not get all the benefits that the more expensive branded mouthwash offers.
There are also many specialist mouthwashes out there that are designed to be used on specific oral conditions and only a short term so make sure you read the labels.

What about mouthwashes that contain alcohol? I’ve heard they’re not safe??
Most mouthwashes available contain some alcohol – this is a carrier agent for the other ingredients and a preservative. There has been speculation in the press linking alcohol in mouthwashes to oral cancer. Present day mouthwashes that do contain alcohol have been processed so that they cannot produce any bi-products that would be commonly found in the alcohol we drink. It is these bi-products that are associ-ated with mouth cancer.
There are however more mouth washes out on the market now containing ‘zero’ al-cohol.
Mouthwashes are still a great addition to your daily routine, they do not replace the need for tooth brushing or flossing but give the benefit of delivering fluoride and antibacterial agents to all areas of the mouth.
Mouthwashes are generally not considered at risk factor for oral cancer.
The risk factors are;
Alcohol consumption, particularly spirits.
Herpes simplex virus
And diet & nutrition

Electric toothbrush or Manual toothbrush? Which is better?
Both are very good if an effective technique is used, But did you know on average someone using a manual toothbrush only brushes for 40seconds!
Also people make the common mistake of using an electric toothbrush exactly as they would a manual toothbrush i.e. a scrubbing technique, but this is incorrect!
However that said, electric toothbrushes do encourage people to brush for longer, around 2 minutes as they have a timer built in and also a pressure sensor, meaning the brush sound will change if your brushing too hard. Clinical trials carried out do show that brushing with an electric toothbrush is more effective than a manual tooth-brush.
If your thinking of changing to an electric toothbrush then bear these points in mind
Go for a brush that is rechargeable – battery brushes lose their effectiveness as the batteries drain but a rechargeable brush will operate at the same intensity until it looses charge.
It ideally should have a timer and a small round head for more precision cleaning. Some electric toothbrushes have extensions or bristles that go of in all directions these aren’t ideal for day to day brushing.

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