Oral hygiene, mouthwash, brush, whitening: true and false

Italians passed or failed in dental care? The former are certainly many more than a few years ago, but not all without “educational debts”. There are still gray areas of know-how even on certain fundamentals, such as the use of the toothbrush, and also a lot of confusion about how, how much, when to wash and with what.

We therefore need a periodic check. «Which happens first of all during the professional hygiene session», explains Giuseppe Allocca, professor of dental hygiene at the University of Milan. “The hygienist uses tools that are the only ones capable of eliminating tartar and dated plaque, provides useful information and is the first to report to the dentist if there is something wrong”. But let’s see in the meantime, with our expert, how you fare with the theoretical test.

Mouthwash can stain

REAL. «Medicated mouthwashes, containing chlorhexidine, should only be used on the advice of the dentist or dental hygienist, also to avoid staining the enamel. But even natural over-the-counter products may contain substances that, if used for a long time, temporarily pigment the teeth ”, explains the expert. “The dental hygienist, however, manages to get rid of all these stains. The whitening mouthwashes, on the other hand, do not cause but do not solve the problem ».

After eating, you should wait 20 minutes before brushing your teeth

TRUE AND FALSE. “Waiting 20 minutes is right but if you take foods such as fruit juices, citrus fruits or other acidic foods: their immediate contact on the surface of the teeth causes a sudden increase in acidity in the mouth, and then with the toothbrush you can damage the enamel in a moment of fragility ”, explains Allocca. “In all other cases, if for example you eat meat or pasta that are not acidic foods, the sooner you can brush your teeth the better. The mouth in fact has a neutral pH and washing it as soon as possible stabilizes its natural values ​​and balances ».

Bleaching ruins the enamel

DEPENDS. Commercial whitening toothpastes named as such eliminate food pigments such as those left by caffeine, but cannot have the profound efficacy of professional whitening in the dentist’s chair, called bleaching, and that’s not dangerous. In fact, two whitening substances are used: carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide. Often enriched with fluoride, these agents do not give any kind of problem to the teeth. However, you should not do the whitening by yourself, for example by buying it on the web and then doing it with the DIY, because it could damage the soft tissues of the oral cavity. Furthermore, the preliminary dental visit is essential before carrying out this technique: if you have caries or gingivitis you need to treat those, then you will think about the beauty of the enamel.

The brush is better than dental floss

FALSE. The brush has a metal core with bristles that remove food residues after meals, but the dental floss also does the same thing, removing bacterial plaque between one tooth and another. The choice of which of the two to use depends on the spaces between the teeth (interdental or interproximal spaces). For example, the brush is ideal when a bone and gingival loss has been created in the patient or in the presence of prosthetic bridges, and then the interdental space increases, the residues fit more, more deeply and therefore you need a specific instrument. If the mouth is healthy and there is no room to use the pipe cleaner, the perfect dental floss. It is not enough to use it between one tooth and another, but it is necessary to enter the first 2 mm of the gingival sulcus, that is, in the collar (it is the free gum, not attached to the tooth).

Gums that clean your teeth are useless

TRUE AND FALSE. They do not in themselves clean the teeth, but stimulate the production of saliva, a natural cleanser that also remineralizes the enamel, strengthening it. If they have it xylitol it is an added value because it boasts an antibacterial action.

Eating certain foods like apple cleans your teeth

REAL. There are foods that are natural cleansers. An apple, for example, is floury, has fructose and not sucrose (more aggressive). Carrot, fennel and all vegetables and crunchy fruit are also good. Dried fruit even contains arginine and Omega-3, which help remineralize the enamel.

To activate the toothpaste you must first wet it

FALSE. The toothbrush should be wet when it is dry but not after putting in the toothpaste, because you can remove many of those active ingredients it contains. Then it should be used for the minimum time necessary, which is the canonical three minutes. The medium type toothbrush is good in 80% of cases, the hard one is better not to use it. That it is stronger does not guarantee greater cleanliness, it is the correct brushing technique that cleans well.

The mouthwash replaces the toothbrush

FALSE. Mouthwash is not holy water. It helps to decrease the adhesion of bacteria to the teeth which at the beginning are still in the form of bacterial plaque (a sort of contaminating mush), but if you do not remove them with the toothbrush, the mouthwash alone is not enough. However, it is better to use it in the evening, also because during the night it decreases the production of saliva and the motility of the tongue, which has the function of self-cleansing of the mouth. Saliva contains natural disinfectants and remineralizers, which therefore have the purpose of strengthening the tooth after any loss of minerals caused by the intake of acidic foods. As the lysozymea natural disinfectant that is produced in smaller quantities at night, freeing pathogenic bacteria.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding damage a mother’s smile

REAL. There is a loss of minerals from the enamel, but above all the so-called pregnancy gingivitis occurs. Blame for the modification of hormonal balances that lead to gingival inflammation, dangerous if it becomes systemic even for the child. Then a mandatory oral hygiene session should be done between the fourth and fifth month of pregnancy, which is usually the period in which the problem appears most.

If you have bad breath, it’s the tartar’s fault

REAL. Tartar is responsible for bad odors in 80% of cases. And it is the signal that the time for hygiene has not arrived, but is even late. Bad breath, however, also occurs due to infiltration of fillings or active caries but not yet diagnosed. The yellow teeth, on the other hand, are genetic. They are part of the person’s phenotype, a bit like the color of the skin and eyes and is inherited from the parents. It is determined by dentin, which is that layer under the enamel. But it is possible to whiten them professionally.

Baby teeth just need to be brushed once a day

FALSE. They should be treated like permanent teeth and brushed like permanent teeth, which begin to appear between the ages of 6 and 13. They must be protected because they are more exposed to tooth decay and infections, which cause pain. The premature fall of a tooth can lead to alignment problems in the future. The hygienist can recommend special toothbrushes for each stage of teething.

Using the toothpick helps hygiene

FALSE. To eliminate the coarsest food residues after a meal (but only those), it is better then to use silicone devices in the shape of toothpicks that you find in the pharmacy. The “classic” one can break leaving fragments between the tissues of the teeth and is then porous, so passing from side to side, it can move the plaque from one side to another area. And then it doesn’t remove it.

If you have a brace, a toothbrush is not enough

TRUE AND FALSE. The toothbrush is the basis. If the appliance is fixed then the pipe cleaners can be used to clean around the attachments. In addition, there is a thicker and more spongy particular thread that is used to clean well where the toothbrush does not reach. The water jet or oral hand shower instead, which sprays water at a certain power serves to remove the macromolecules that get stuck between one tooth and another. Be careful not to use the maximum power of the jet and above all not to direct the force of the water towards the gum because in this way, instead of removing the plaque from the gum cavity, it pushes it under the tissues. The water flosser should be used after the toothbrush, and goes where the latter cannot.

If your gums are bleeding, you’ve brushed your teeth well

FALSE. The gum that is fine does not bleed, unless you really overdo it with brushing, you do it badly or with an unsuitable toothbrush, too hard for example. The teeth should be brushed from the gumline along the entire tooth and outwards, at a 45 degree angle, using the toothbrush as a broom that never comes back up. Then start by inserting it into the gumline at 45 degrees, and then make a rotation passing over the entire surface of the tooth to the tip. Attention: always with the mouth open otherwise the dirt passes from one arch to another (many keep it closed with clenched teeth).

The electric toothbrush is the best

REAL. The last generations have surpassed the manual toothbrush in effectiveness. The defect of some electric toothbrushes of the past was to not warn the patient if he pressed too much, potentially damaging the oral tissues: the latter have sensors that avoid this problem. In addition, some, in addition to doing the roto-oscillation that removes the plaque, also perform the pulsation, which removes the residues, thus guaranteeing a complete cleaning. The electric toothbrush does almost everything by itself, but it is necessary to keep the angle at 45 degrees and clean one tooth at a time always with the mouth open, from right to left and for all sides. However, the advice is to alternate it with the traditional one, to have a varied cleaning of all kinds.