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Experts disagree on how to keep teeth clean


Opinions differ on how best to keep our teeth and gums clean and even the experts can’t seem to agree on the optimum technique for maintaining good dental health. However, if a new study is to be believed, the best way to brush the teeth may be easier than you might think. A professor of dentistry claims to have come up with the definitive answer.

Professor Aubrey Sheiham, Emeritus Professor of Dental Public Health, found the available advice on how to brush ‘unacceptably inconsistent’ and believes that the public should be given some ‘sound information’ on the best brushing method. She said ‘If people hear one thing from a dental association, another from a toothbrush company and something else from their dentist, no wonder they are confused about how to brush.’ The study revealed an ‘array of advice from different sources.’

Sheiham added ‘Dental associations need to be consistent about what method to recommend, based on how effective the method is. Most worryingly, the methods recommended by dental associations are not the same as the best ones mentioned in dental textbooks.’ The study showed that there is no evidence to suggest that a more complicated brushing technique will work better than a simple scrubbing motion.

Professor Sheiham advised people to ‘Brush gently with a simple horizontal scrubbing motion, with the brush at a 45 degree angle to get to the dental plaque. Avoid brushing too hard; hold the brush with a pencil grip rather than a fist. This simple method is perfectly effective at keeping your gums healthy.’

Diet fads could be damaging to teeth


Juice cleanses and trendy diets could cause serious damage to dental health, according to a top dentist. Dr Sameer Patel, Clinical Director at a London dental practice has warned against following diet fads too closely and detailed the worst offenders for dental damage.

The juice cleanse, favoured by celebrities, is a diet that involves swapping meals for smoothies and juices; these products have a high acid content, which will wear away the enamel and lead to sensitivity in the teeth, as well as decay. Dr Patel spoke to the Daily Mail, saying ‘Fruit’s natural sugar, fructose, is a common cause of cavities as the bacteria in the mouth feed on it, so be careful when you do consume juice as part of a balanced diet.’ He advises drinking juice through a straw and waiting at least thirty minutes before brushing your teeth afterwards.

Another common problem with new diets, such as low-carb diet plans, is ketosis; this is a condition that is caused by the breakdown of fat in the body and results in bad breath. Dr Patel explains ‘Ketosis is brought on entirely by your diet and unfortunately no amount of flossing and brushing will combat the smell so think twice before cutting out carbs completely and stick to healthy ones… these will keep bad breath away whilst staying trim.’

One in ten people admit to sharing a toothbrush


According to new research, carried out as part of National Smile Month, 9.7% of people (almost one in ten) admitted that they have shared a toothbrush with someone else in the past; and 11% said that they would consider doing it if they needed to.

Over 2,000 people were questioned as part of the initiative and it revealed that oral hygiene practices in the UK leave a lot to be desired; one in five said they had used their finger to brush their teeth at some stage, whilst a shocking two out of five people asked admitted that they had only rinsed out their mouth with water instead of brushing their teeth.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said that this kind of habit can lead to all kinds of problems, with dental and general health. He explained that brushing can cause the gums to bleed, so sharing a tooth brush exposes whoever else uses it to blood stream disease ‘which is a lot more risky than just sharing saliva.’

He added that the bacteria and viruses found in the human mouth can be passed on through sharing a toothbrush, such as the common cold, cold sores, or more serious conditions like hepatitis B or HIV. According to Dr Carter, people should be looking after their dental health by swapping their toothbrush once every three months to avoid problems with their teeth, he went on to say that ‘To spend £8 a year for four toothbrushes is nothing compared to losing a day off work and spending large amounts of money on preventable dental work.’

Parents are failing to teach their children good oral hygiene


According to new research millions of parents in the UK are neglecting their children’s teeth by failing to teach them about brushing and visiting the dentist. The study, carried out by market analysts Mintel, found that only half of those with children under twelve said they took their kids to the dentist on a regular basis. Furthermore, only 57% said that they make sure their children look after their teeth properly.

The research involved questioning 2,000 UK adults and according to Roshida Khanom, a personal care analyst at Mintel, it reveals a ‘distinct lack of awareness’ with regards to children’s dental care and visiting the dentist. Khanom explains ‘it’s likely that parents think of oral care to be limited to toothbrush and toothpaste when it comes to their children, and so don’t feel the need to take their child to the dentist regularly or see the need for products beyond basics such as toothpaste, despite the increase in products designed for this age group.’

The study also showed that around 10% of parents are under the impression that baby teeth do not have to be treated because they fall out anyway. Khanom added ‘what is more, only a quarter of parents agree that it is important to visit the dentist as soon as babies develop their first tooth, despite NHS recommendations to take children to the dentist as young an age as possible – and at least once by the time they are two.’ A further one in five parents admitted that they did not feel confident about taking care of their children’s teeth.

Nursery dental care scheme reduces decay in Scotland


A new tooth brushing programme implemented across Scotland has led to a sharp decline in tooth decay among young children and saved £6 million in the cost of dental treatment for the under-five’s. A study carried out by the University of Glasgow showed that the initiative had reduced the cost of treating dental problems by more than 50% from 2001/02 to 2009/10, when the programme was originally introduced.

The scheme involves every nursery in Scotland offering free daily tooth brushing for children by nursery staff; it costs around £1.8million per year. As part of the Childsmile programme, the daily brushing is also accompanied by information about the importance of dental health and good diet choices from an early age.

Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson called the changes an ‘amazing achievement’ and said that the simple programme showed ‘just how much can be saved’. He went on to say that the Childsmile scheme had resulted in ‘less tooth decay in children which means less toothache, fewer sleepless nights and less time off school.’ He also praised the initiative for reducing financial pressures on the NHS because dental disease in five-year-olds has decreased. Matheson lastly added that ‘More children can just be treated routinely in the dental chair because they need less invasive treatments, so fewer fillings and fewer extractions, and many more children with much better oral health than we have seen in many years.’

Helen Flanagan’s ‘obsessive’ dental hygiene leads to problems with her teeth


I’m A Celebrity contestant Helen Flanagan has admitted that she brushes her teeth more often than necessary and was surprised to find that this is actually doing more harm than good. Due to her smoking, the former Coronation Street actress is said to be ‘obsessed’ with keeping her teeth clean so that they don’t become yellow from the nicotine – apparently she brushes up to ten times a day, according to The Sun newspaper.

The 22-year-old always carries a toothbrush and toothpaste with her wherever she goes but does not attend regular dental appointments due to fear of the dentist; she tweeted last week ‘Just been to the dentist I dragged myself there been avoiding it for ages as I get too scared can’t bear it. And because im obsessed with brushing my teeth its made them too sensitive as I’ve attacked my enamel and I’ve still got two baby teeth. (sic)’

A source confirmed the news, telling The Sun; ‘Helen is paranoid. She is always scrubbing away – sometimes up to ten times a day. She was stunned to be told she’s causing more harm than good.’

The enamel on our teeth can be damaged by tooth paste that contains harsh abrasives – as many whitening products do – and Helen could be causing irreversible problems if she brushes too soon after eating as well – this is when the enamel is most vulnerable and can easily be worn down with over-brushing. To improve the shade of teeth, professional teeth whitening or dental veneers could be carried out which are far more effective than over-brushing.


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Arm & Hammer launch One Direction musical toothbrush


Toothpaste firm Arm & Hammer have introduced a new musical toothbrush playing the tunes of top boy band One Direction, to help fans clean their teeth properly every day. To mark the launch, the company is offering the chance to win tickets to see the band and other merchandise, in association with Church & Dwight co. Fans are being asked to visit the Tooth Tunes website and submit a video of themselves or their children brushing with the ‘Tooth Tunes’ product as part of the Rock with One Direction Sweepstakes.

The tooth brush works by playing one of the bands hits for exactly two minutes, in order to help children and young adults brush their teeth for the right length of time each time they brush. Fans will be able to enjoy either ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ or ‘One Thing’ while they carry out their dental hygiene. This utilises the ‘Music in Your Mouth’ technology which streams sound vibrations through the bristles and into the teeth, allowing the user to hear the music as the brush is functioning. The patented technology delivers high quality music which is transmitted through the jaw bone and into the inner ear, which means the person using the brush can hear it without it being broadcast out loud during the brushing process.

The brushes are available for about £15 from in store and online retailers.

Astronauts demonstrate oral hygiene in space


The weightless conditions that affect astronauts can make it difficult to carry out even very simple tasks, such as making dinner or pouring a drink, but astronaut Chris Hadfield is hoping to educate viewers and fans of space travel on how these things are done at zero-gravity; and he’s starting small, with oral hygiene.

The Canadian astronaut currently calls the International Space Station home and he has been uploading videos and pictures to the internet to show how daily activities are performed in space. He explains that brushing teeth is hard because ‘we don’t have running water. You can’t have a tap; you can’t have a sink ‘cause water would flow everywhere.’ He then goes on to demonstrate the use of water droplets from a bag that absorb into the bristles of the tooth brush, after applying a small amount of toothpaste from a tube.

After giving his teeth a good clean, Hadfield then shows viewers what to do instead of rinsing out after brushing – he simply swallows the toothpaste and water, although he doesn’t seem to enjoy it. He then adds ‘It’s edible. Won’t kill you, and what else am I gonna do? Put it in a rag and have a dirty rag? Doesn’t make any sense.’

He has also posted several other step-by-step guides on how life in the Space Station works, including how to make sandwiches, how to wash your hands, and how to cut your finger nails.

Hadfield is part of Expedition 35, which includes five other astronauts, two Americans and three Russians as part of rotational staffing of the Space Station.

Kinds encouraged to brush their teeth ‘Gangnam Style’


It has been a surprise hit across the globe and now the Psy song Gangnam Style is set to revolutionise the way kids clean their teeth, as experts have identified the Korean pop song as the best rhythm and playing length to encourage kids to brush their teeth correctly.

The Brighton Institute of Modern Music has been working with dental professionals to devise a musical formula for brushing teeth, which works out a pattern of beats for the right number of strokes covering the entire enamel surface of the teeth. The equation was created by Jim Williams and identifies eight bars of music, followed by another two sets of four bars as the ideal rhythm for regular cleaning; this includes a double chorus and a bridge. After some calculations, Mr Williams found that Gangnam Style fitted perfectly with the equation.

Dental expert Tina Tanna, said that ‘Children must brush at least 35 times on each side of the mouth – using seven strokes in five areas – to ensure their teeth and gums stay healthy.’

Senior brand manager for Aquafresh, Lesley Stonier, commented that getting children to brush well and regularly can often be a battle for parents, but ‘this new formula and top songs to brush to are designed to help put the fun into brushing time. Using these tunes to establish a good teeth cleaning routine with your children will set them up with good dental hygiene for life.’

Portsmouth nursery helps kids fight tooth decay


With childhood dental problems on the rise in the UK, one nursery in Portsmouth is hoping to buck this trend by teaching the children in attendance how to look after their teeth properly.

Children at Dysart Nursery in Drayton are being taught to brush their teeth after every meal to stop tooth decay from developing over time. Manager of the nursery, Amy Calloway, described this as a ‘new initiative’ that has been implemented to improve dental health of children in the area. She added that ‘Portsmouth is one of the worst places in England for levels of child tooth decay. All the children at the nursery get their own toothbrush and toothpaste to encourage them to brush their teeth more often.’

The nursery team use several teaching techniques to encourage children to brush their teeth out of school as well as between lessons; including brushing along to a special song to make the activity more like a game than a chore. Mrs Calloway was feeling positive about the initiative, adding that parents were also keen to get involved with their kids dental health, saying they have been ‘really supportive and really encouraged it.’ She also said that the kids were very enthusiastic about brushing; commenting that some pupils ‘are so keen to brush their teeth they ask to do it several times a day.’

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