With the aim to educate, promote and support good oral hygiene throughout the UK, Oral Health Foundation’s annual campaign, National Smile Month, aims to raise awareness of important oral health issues and to give special attention to three messages, recognised by all oral health practitioners as the cornerstones of good dental hygiene:
1. Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least on one other occasion a day with fluoride toothpaste
2. Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks
3. Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend
Let’s start with the first message about brushing your teeth with fluoride. We will be concentrating on this in this blog, and will follow up the remaining messages in subsequent blogs.
We hear you ask, isn’t that just obvious, Sherlock?
While many of us would say that brushing your teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste is a fairly obvious message to be promoting, it might surprise you to know that according to facts and figures collected by the Oral Health Foundation, one in four adults don’t brush twice a day, one in ten have admitted they regularly forget to brush their teeth and one in five of us think fluoride is a marketing gimmick.
So, what is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral found in drinking water and many foods. Some drinking water has additional fluoride added to it by water suppliers, for additional health benefits – water fluoridisation has been proved to bring tooth decay down by 40-60%. So it most certainly is not a marketing gimmick! The fluoride supply in your water can vary from area to area, which is why dentists recommend you top up your fluoride intake by using fluoride toothpaste.
So, how important is it to brush your teeth with fluoride?
In a word, very! When you eat food, containing starch and sugars, the plaque on your teeth produces acid, which attacks the enamel on your teeth. After repeated acid attacks the enamel on your teeth can break done, causing a cavity. Brushing regularly with fluoride helps wash away the acid, protecting the enamel on your teeth. It also stops the build up of plaque, which if unchecked can lead to gum disease.
And what is gum disease?
Not brushing allows plaque to build up on your teeth, which, over time, hardens into something called tartar, or calculus. This tartar deposits near the gum line and causes the gums to become inflamed and irritated. The gums will start to pull away from the teeth, leaving the gaps open to infection. If left untreated gum disease can destroy the bone supporting your teeth causing them to weaken and eventually fall out.
How can you find out more about National Smile Month?
If you are interested in taking part in National Smile Month or finding out more then you can visit their website. You can even order a Smiley! Don’t forget to take a picture and tweet it to us @westcliffdentist.
If you would like to speak to one of our dentists about how to improve your oral health then please get in touch.