We sort the fact from the fiction with the help of Dr Anousheh Alavi, dental surgeon and scientific affairs manager for Colgate.
MYTH You only need to floss if food gets stuck between your teeth
Flossing might feel great if you get something caught – but the point of it is to remove bacteria or dental plaque from between your teeth and under your gum line before it inflames your gums or hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by professional cleaning. For a good flossing technique, cut a length of floss that is comfortable to hold between your forefingers and thumbs, wrap the floss around the contour of the teeth on either side of the space you’re cleaning, and sweep out after reaching under. Be gentle and thorough; remember, each interdental space needs flossing twice, against each tooth side.
MYTH The firmer the toothbrush, the better the cleaning
Definitely not true. A brush with hard bristles doesn’t improve its cleaning efficiency, and may irritate the gums and lead to sensitive teeth. Ask your dentist or hygienist what toothbrush might be best for you, depending on your individual gum and tooth problems. The same goes for brushing too vigorously, which can wear away your tooth enamel – effective tooth brushing is remembering that each tooth has five surfaces to reach.
MYTH You don’t need to brush in the morning if you’ve brushed at night
Tooth brushing gets rid of bacteria, and toothpaste delivers fluoride and ideally a proven and effective antibacterial agent. The main reason to brush morning and night is because salivary flow is reduced when we are asleep, so brushing before bed protects, and brushing in the morning removes any overnight plaque build-up. The most important thing, though, is to brush regularly – and the feel of your tongue against the teeth will tell you “this isn’t quite right” when it’s time to do so!
MYTH If you brush and rinse well, you don’t need to use mouthwash
This is wrong on all sorts of counts. In fact, when you brush your teeth, you shouldn’t rinse your mouth afterwards – spit out the excess only and leave the rest of the toothpaste on your teeth so the antibacterial and fluoride protection stays on your teeth. It isn’t a necessity to use a daily mouthwash, especially straight after brushing your teeth – but it is a good idea to use a fluoride mouthwash at a different time – say lunchtime – making fluoride available more than twice a day will help prevent decay. Don’t think you can shortcut by using mouthwash instead of brushing – bacteria is sticky and needs to be brushed off!
MYTH You don’t need to change your toothbrush regularly
It is important to change your toothbrush (or the electric head) regularly, but there’s no set time – as a rough guide you could think every new season, but it depends on the individual and how they brush. Have a look at the bristles. If they’re splayed and out of order, they may not be as effective. Is an electric toothbrush best to use? It is still in the hand of the operator and they’re not all the same, so ask your dentist or hygienist for advice on what’s right for you.
MYTH Everyone needs six-monthly check-ups
It is no longer true that we all need to see our dentist every six months; some people need to have a check-up more often, some less. Your dentist will tell you what’s right for you.
Why use Colgate Total?
Colgate Total Advanced offers complete protection for a healthy mouth and guards against the main oral-care problems. Clinically proven to provide non-stop, 12-hour protection against bacteria, it’s the number one toothpaste brand used by dentists.*
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*COLGATE PROFESSIONAL SURVEY, 300 DENTISTS, 2014