H is for hygiene

Are you a good dental patient? Do you come in every 6 months for a check-up and a session with the hygienist, and, as you leave, book yourself in for more of the same in another 6 months’ time? Or are you a bit more slapdash? Do you put off making appointments, forget to turn up, cancel a few days before, and somehow not come to see us twice a year, but more like once a year, or maybe even every 2 years?

Dental Hygiene in SuttonThere’s a reason why dentists want their patients to come in every 6 months for check-ups. This is how long the early stages of decay and gum disease take to develop, and we can still spot them and deal with them before they become more serious.

If you are good about check-ups and cleanings, you will know how much we, at Benhill Dental Practice in Sutton, go on about dental hygiene. Dental hygiene is the foundation of all good dental care.

You only get one set of adult teeth, and if you’d like to live until you are 80, these teeth are going to have to last you more than 70 years. That’s a very long time.

Natural teeth are very good at chewing things into a paste that can be well digested. Some of the replacement teeth on offer are not so good. So, as your dentist, we would far rather you practised good dental hygiene and hung onto your natural teeth than go down the route of replacement teeth.

How to practise good dental hygiene

It’s pretty simple. You need to brush your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. One way to make sure you do the full 2 minutes is to use an electric toothbrush with a timer on it. It vibrates at 4 30-second intervals, so you can work round your mouth very thoroughly.

Don’t forget to back up your tooth brushing with a daily flossing session to remove plaque from between your teeth and under the edges of the gums. If you are older, you may also need interdental brushes to remove trapped food from between your teeth, especially at the back.

Creating good habits for a lifetime

The thing with teeth is that we evolved to have one set that would last us for a lifetime. That was back when our diets had way less sugar in them. These days it’s hard to get away from sugar, and without a good oral hygiene routine, we are in as much danger as ever from tooth decay, especially as children.

Oral Hygiene in SuttonSugary drinks, sugary snacks, even snacks such as raisins, all feed the bacteria in our mouths that give off acids that destroy tooth enamel. That’s why decay in children is on the up. According to government statistics 25% of five-year-olds suffer from tooth decay, with three or four of their teeth in trouble. And in 2012-2013, tooth decay was the most common reason for 5–9-year-olds going into hospital. In 2014-15, over 63,000 children aged up to 19 went into hospital to have teeth removed. 63,000! That’s so many. And that’s why we are very hot on teaching our young patients how to develop a really good oral hygiene routine.

Meet Debbie

Here at Benhill Dental Practice in Sutton, our hygienist is Debbie. She knows that getting a good brushing technique takes time and that kids often have far better things to do than brush their teeth. Debbie was nominated for Hygienist of the Year in 2008 after starting Toothy Pegs Club in 2007. Debbie ran the club in schools as well as bringing it into Benhill Dental Practice.

Teeth with character

Debbie has got kids to love their teeth by giving each kind of tooth a character of their own. From ladylike Nibbles the Incisor, who loves minty toothpaste, to Grinder the Molar, who loves to use disclosing tablets before he brushes his teeth, the characters teach children how to brush their teeth and helps anxious kids get over any fears of the dentist. It’s free to all children; you don’t have to be a member of the practice. The club even does puppet shows, which go down a storm with children.

Toothy Pegs Club is a fun way to give your kids a good grounding in oral hygiene. Come along and join the fun!

Oral Hygiene

How does your oral hygiene scrub up? Good dental hygiene is vital to maintaining your oral health. Many common dental problems, including gum disease and tooth decay, can be prevented with good oral hygiene.

oral hygieneAt Benhill Dental Practice we are passionate about preventative dentistry, which is why we are always keen to stress the importance of a strong oral hygiene routine. Good dental health involves team work, combining regular visits to your dentist and hygienist with stringent home practices.

We recommend that most patients visit the dentist for a check-up and they hygienist for a scale and polish every six months. In some cases – for example if you have gum disease and your treatment needs monitoring – we will want to see you more frequently, and you should always follow your dentist’s recommendations.

Our hygienist, Debbie, will professionally clean your teeth with a scale and polish. This involves using special equipment and pastes to remove all traces of plaque and tartar from the surfaces of your teeth. Plaque and tartar build-up can lead to the development of gum disease, which if left untreated can ultimately lead to your teeth falling out.

Debbie will also provide bespoke advice on how best to look after your teeth at home. This will include tips on brushing techniques, flossing and using interdental brushes to clean in between your teeth effectively. This advice will be presented in an individualised, age-appropriate manner – Debbie runs a special Toothy Pegs Club for children to help them learn the importance of good dental hygiene in a fun way.

She will also advise on how dietary and lifestyle factors, such as drinking too much fruit juice or smoking, can affect your dental health, and offer advice on how to develop more tooth-friendly habits.