6 things every dentist wishes their patients would do (but probably don’t)

Leading london dentist James Goolnik of Bow Lane Dental shares the five bottom line things every dentist wishes their patients would do

Let’s get real for a second. The majority of us don’t floss every day like our dentists tell us to. Nor do we avoid coffee, tea and red wine to prevent teeth staining. But if you want healthy teeth and gums, it’s important to actually listen to your dentist. After all, they want your mouth to look good just as much as you do! In honour of World Oral Health Day, we’ve asked London dentist James Goolnik to tell us the top six things he wishes patients would do to keep their mouths clean and healthy.

1. Floss

woman flossing 6 things your dentist wishes you would do Healthista

I know you heard you didn’t need to do it anymore. Sorry, but you do if you want to avoid gum disease and keep your teeth. There is growing evidence that the condition of your mouth is a snapshot of your general health. More and more diseases in the mouth have been proven to affect your general health and can even kill you. If you have gum disease, it increases your risk of having a stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Poor mouth health leads to problems in pregnancy and dementia.

The fact is, most adults in the UK have gum disease and not brushing correctly is the biggest cause and smoking accelerates it. The scary but true thing is, though it takes a few years, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. It is a silent disease, so often the first thing you notice is your gums bleed, your tooth starts to feels loose and then it falls out!

Floss and then smell it, then tell me you like having a mouth that smells of rotting food! Do not bother telling your dentist that you floss; we can tell within two seconds that you haven’t for months.

Don’t bother telling your dentist that you floss; we can tell within two seconds that you haven’t for months.

If you are afraid of floss and get all tangled, why not try brush sticks? They can be even more effective than floss, especially if you have larger gaps between your teeth. Sticks such as TePe Dental Sticks are simpler to use and proven to ward off gum disease. You want a snug fit to remove the plaque, so you may even up using two or three sizes for your mouth. If you want to know what size is best for you, ask your dentist or hygienist.

2. Cut down on the white powder!

sugar 6 things your dentist wishes you would do Healthista

Yes, SUGAR. Foods high in sugar can be enjoyed as a treat, not every day. Adults and children over 11 should consume no more than seven teaspoons of added sugar a day (30g), about one can of Coca-Cola. Start looking at the labels in your supermarket. Sugar is added to nearly three-quarters of all foods in your supermarket. Added sugar is often hard to find on the ingredients label as the manufacturers use over 60 different names for it. If it says “low-fat,” it is most likely had sugar added to disguise the taste. Why do they add so much sugar? It disguises the taste, increases the shelf life and makes it addictive!

Xylitol is much better than sugar and the best sugar substitute for your teeth

Sugar not only leads to diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay, but also a new study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center showed high sugar intake may increase your risk of breast cancer.

In terms of substitutes, Xylitol is much better than sugar and the best sugar substitute for your teeth. Bacteria cannot digest Xylitol, so it does not cause tooth decay. Gum or mints which contain Xylitol such as Extra will cause extra saliva production, which reduces the formation of acid and plaque even further, so they’re good to have after eating.

Xylitol also helps to prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth, so that it does not get a chance to cause harmful plaque. The only negative thing for ALL sugar replacements is it still makes your palate crave sweet tastes. Better to slowly wean yourself off sugar so you have a balanced diet not always hunting out sweet foods and drinks. Usually takes about a week to kick the habit.

MORE: Are you addicted to sugar?

Need help to get control of sugar? Try Paul McKenna’s new book Get Control of Sugar Now!: Great Choices For Your Healthy Future. It features simple techniques to reduce your sugar intake and enjoy healthy food.

3. Stop smoking

Smoking cigarette 6 things your dentist wishes you would do Healthista

Not only does it stain your teeth, but it can also kill you. Gum disease can be over five times more severe in smokers.

even vaping is not good for your mouth.

There is growing evidence that even vaping is not good for your mouth. The nicotine still has the same effect on your mouth’s blood supply, not allowing your gums to repair and protect themselves from bacteria.

For help quitting smoking, this Smoke Free app has been successful with thousands of people. You can watch your health improve every day and see how much money you’ve saved.

4. Bring your kids to the dentist

child with dentist 6 things your dentist wishes you would do Healthista

Last year the NHS in England took out at least one tooth under general anaesthetic in 40,800 children because of tooth decay. This is a waste of over £35 million. Tooth decay is easily preventable! We want to see every child by the age of two years old. Our aim is to make all visits to the dentist fun for your children. They have a ride in the magic chair, get their teeth polished with strawberry gel and walk away with a big smile and a sticker!

5. Brush twice a day

woman brushing teeth 6 things your dentist wishes you would do Healthista

It is gross not to brush your teeth. Who would want to kiss you when your breath smells of dustbins? Do your love life and your health a favour and brush for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste. What else could you do in two minutes?

 6. See a dentist at least once a year

woman at dentist 6 things your dentist wishes you would do Healthista

As a dentist, I do not just spot the signs of tooth decay and gum disease. We are looking for abnormalities and early signs of disease in your neck, muscles and glands in your neck. See your dentist if you have a persistent ulcer in your mouth that does not heal within two weeks. Look out for unexplained, persistent lumps in the mouth or lymph glands in your neck that don’t go away. I look inside your mouth (cheeks, palate and tongue,) check your jaw joint and your bite.

Regular check-ups with your dentist will help stop early signs of disease and make treatment quick, painless and cost effective. Remember: good oral health is much more than a nice smile.

If you like to talk, smile, smell, taste, chew and show emotions, then you should care.

For other tips, you can incorporate to live “Mouth Smart” on World Oral health day.

Remember: good oral health is much more than a nice smile.

james goolnik 6 things your dentist wishes you'd do HealthistaJames Goolnik, BDS MSc is a dentist and founder of Bow Lane Dental Group in the city of London.

Goolnik is a past president and active member of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the largest dental organisation dedicated to advancing the art and science of cosmetic dentistry in the United Kingdom. He lectures internationally and has twice been listed in Private Dentistry’s poll of the top 20 Elite Dentists in the UK in 2011 and 2012. He has been voted the most influential person in Dentistry in the UK in 2011 and 2012 by trade magazine Dentistry. Goolnik has recently been appointed to the expert advisory panel for the Safety in Beauty Campaign.

His book Brush is a number one bestseller on Amazon, and all profits go to charity Dentaid.


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