Most common questions asked of the dentist part 1
Should I use an electric toothbrush?
The short answer is, yes. The research suggests that people who use an electric toothbrush generally get a better oral hygiene result.
One of the nice things about electric toothbrushes is that if you press too hard, the motor tends to slow down. This instantaneous feedback stops you pushing too hard and damaging your teeth. People using a normal toothbrush can all too easily brush too hard in trying to get the job done quickly. I’ve had to re-educate patients who were wearing out a manual toothbrush in no time. It was as if they were trying to clean mud out of their tyre tread.
It’s important to change the head of an electric toothbrush regularly—generally every month or two. If it’s starting to look a bit ratty then it’s time for a new one.
Finally, you don’t need to use near as much toothpaste as is shown on commercials. The ideal amount is the size of a pea for adults and a smaller smear for younger kids.
Does mouthwash work?
Generally, no. There’s very little evidence to show that rinsing out your mouth with mouthwash after brushing your teeth will do anything for general dental health. There are specific mouthwashes for specific situations that can be beneficial but using an off-the-shelf mouthwash is not really doing anything.
However, it’s probably not doing any harm either so if you like the zingy feeling, that’s fine. Just be aware that it’s not an alternative to brushing your teeth and it’s not going to make your mouth any cleaner.
Some mouthwashes contain alcohol that claim to kill bacteria. However, the amount of time it’s in your mouth is not long enough to do anything. Additionally, you really don’t want large amounts of alcohol on the soft tissues in your mouth for a long time as that can actually cause severe damage.
Mouthwash comes in a range of colours that means nothing at all. It is purely just a case of marketing and flavouring.
Why are my teeth yellow?
Generally, it’s because you’re getting older. As we age, our teeth accumulate stains, and those stains can be on the outside of the tooth, which your dentist can polish off. The staining can also soak into the teeth and discolour. Over time, your enamel becomes more translucent so you actually see more of the colour coming through from the inside of the teeth.
Some people just have yellow teeth. There can also be a contrast between skin colour and tooth colour, though there’s not an absolute correlation. Sometimes, people with very fair skin look like they have yellow teeth, whether or not they actually do.
Changing your diet or cutting out red wine, coffee and tea will not whiten your teeth but it will slow down the process of yellowing. The only way to whiten teeth is through a whitening process provided by your dentist or as a take-home kit.