Maintaining a good at-home oral hygiene routine is imperative for achieving healthy teeth. Now with the restrictions lifted, booking an appointment to see your dentist for elective services like routine cleanings, exams and x-rays is an option again. If you have concerns about going into a dental office, there’s still a lot you can do at home to up your oral hygiene game. We’re keeping tabs on our oral health with Dr. Nora El-Mowafy, a prosthodontist at QT Dental. Here’s what she had to say about how we can keep our mouths healthy and clean at home during the pandemic.
The First Step Is Education
“Understanding the importance of daily oral hygiene, a healthy diet and regular dental visits is the key to prevention of diseases. Oral diseases such as tooth decay (caries) or gum disease (gingivitis/periodontitis) occur when harmful bacteria in plaque are not removed from teeth on a daily basis. Diets high in carbohydrates and sugars can further increase the risk for dental caries. Sweets and carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation and followed by proper cleansing. Good oral health requires a daily oral hygiene routine and a well balanced diet.”
At-Home Dental Routine
So what is a good healthy at home oral hygiene routine?
“Your at home oral hygiene routine should consist of brushing teeth with a fluoride-containing toothpaste for two minutes, flossing, and use of a mouthrinse twice daily. Brushing before bed is especially critical as salivary flow is decreased while we sleep and a dry mouth is more susceptible to dental caries. For those with complex dental work like bridges or braces, a Waterpik, Proxabrush or Superfloss can be helpful in accessing those tough to reach areas.”
Dr. El-Mowafy expresses the importance of practicing this routine regularly. This will help prevent diseases that can require costly and complex treatment she says. She recommends routine visits to identify and treat any dental issues before they progress and lead to irreversible damage.
But how do we keep up with this routine?
Dr. El-Mowafy suggests investing in a few oral hygiene products. “An electric toothbrush, like Philips Sonicare, is a great investment with many offering built-in timers to ensure proper cleaning and customizable settings for sensitive teeth. Floss picks make flossing quick and simple and are a great portable way to keep your teeth clean. A mouthrinse, like Listerine, is a great way to finish off your daily routine by reducing oral bacterial count and who doesn’t love minty fresh breath? A Waterpik can be a powerful aid in cleaning those tricky areas especially for those with bridges, braces, or fixed orthodontic retainers.” She adds, “Brushing removes bacteria ridden plaque on the surfaces of teeth while flossing cleans beneath the gum line and in-between teeth where food and debris can get trapped. The areas between teeth are prone to dental caries and toothbrush bristles cannot access these areas so flossing is an important part of keeping your teeth clean and healthy.”
3 Dental Myth Busters
If you’re anything like us you dabble in a few health trends here and there, but not all trends are ideal for our teeth. Here are some dental myths she says show no evidence of being beneficial for the health of your teeth.
Myth: Activated charcoal is great for whitening teeth
There is no evidence to show that dental products with charcoal are effective or safe whitening agents. While users may notice an initial brightening effect, this is attributed to the abrasive power of the charcoal, which over time wears away enamel and results in exposure of the yellower underlying dentin. The long-term effects of these products have not been properly studied and their use is not encouraged.
Myth: Oil pulling can replace brushing and flossing
This ancient Ayurvedic technique suggests that gargling for 20-minutes with oil can strengthen teeth, reverse dental caries and “pull” toxins from the body. While no harmful effects have been observed, there is no evidence to suggest oil pulling is an effective method to clean teeth and eliminate bacterial plaque. Plant oils such as coconut and sesame that are commonly used for oil pulling do have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, however it should not be used as a replacement for daily brushing and flossing.
Myth: Brush your teeth immediately after drinking soda
While this may seem like a good idea, brushing immediately after consuming soda can result in damage to your enamel since teeth are weaker after being exposed to the acidic beverage and brushing can accelerate the erosion process. Instead, rinse with water and delay brushing for 30 minutes.
We get it, after spending a lot of time at home you’re probably looking for other ways you can entertain yourself and flex your self-care muscles. But trust us on this one, you’re better off leaving the fate of your oral health care in the hands of a professional like Dr. El-Mowafy.
When To See Your Dentist In IRL
She recommends maintaining a routine hygiene schedule every 3 or 6 months based on your caries risk, and having an annual dental check-up. “You should contact your dentist when you experience pain, have inflamed gums or loose teeth, suffer oral or facial trauma or injury, have difficulty functioning (chewing, speaking, swallowing) or if you are unhappy with the appearance of your smile.”
Dr. Nora El-Mowafy BDS, MSc, FRCD(C), Dip. Prostho is a Certified Specialist in Prosthodontics. She received her Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Future University in Egypt. She then completed a dual diploma program at the University of British Columbia receiving a Master of Craniofacial Science degree as well as a diploma in Prosthodontics after completing advanced educational training in this branch of dentistry.
Dr. El-Mowafy practices prosthodontics at QT Dental in Mississauga and at Mystic Pointe Dental in Etobicoke. She also teaches as a clinical instructor in Prosthodontics at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Dentistry.
Dr. El-Mowafy is a Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists in Canada. She is a member of the Association of Prosthodontists of Canada, the Ontario Dental Association, as well as the American College of Prosthodontists.