Oil Pulling, Chewing Gum And Other Dental Ideas
Brushing and flossing are essential for healthy teeth and gums. Some people, though, may look to other methods, but do they work?
Sometimes it seems that no matter how much we, at Blue Sky Dental, try to convince people that they need to look after their teeth by the simple methods of brushing, flossing and seeing a dentist and hygienist regularly, a few people always seem tempted to continue to look elsewhere for further, and often alternative, advice. Much of this advice comes via the internet and whilst we would once have had to actually search for this information, much of it now comes directly to us from social media, whether that be through friends sharing or promotions from celebrity influencers.
Because there is so much of this type of information now widely available, we thought that we would take a look at some of the more popular ones, from the good to the potentially harmful.
Although this does seem to have taken something of a back seat more recently, it still has its adherents. Coconut oil is often, although not exclusively used. The practice stems from an Indian folk tradition and was widely believed to have benefits for your teeth and gums.
The theory is that by ‘swishing’ the oil around the mouth for usually between five and twenty minutes, it will not only pull pieces of food that have become trapped between the teeth, and on the gums, but bacteria too.
Whilst this practice may offer some benefits, it is probably no more so than if you swilled water around the mouth for a similar amount of time. There are also potential drawbacks too. A mouthful of oil can taste quite unpleasant, and especially if you accidentally swallow some, you may feel sick. Dehydration, sore jaw muscles and excessive thirst are also not uncommon in people that practise this method.
Like oil pulling, chewing gum is said by some, to help remove bacteria from the gums and from between the teeth. With regular chewing gum, any benefits might be offset by the sugar in the gum. If you use sugar free chewing gum though, there is some evidence that this is beneficial for both teeth and gums. Bacteria and tiny food particles become stuck to the gum which can then be disposed off carefully. We recommend that you don’t swallow the gum.
Whilst we don’t feel that this method is as good as using dental floss, it is certainly more convenient and you can do this a few times during the day if you wish. If you don’t floss because you find it difficult, this method could be a useful alternative. Chewing gum also has additional benefits in that the action of chewing produces more saliva. This will also wash away bacteria and help to protect the mouth from infections.
Finally, not only will your breath probably smell nicer after chewing a minty sugar-free gum, but the additional saliva will help to control excess ‘bad’ bacteria that can lead to halitosis or smelly breath.
We have mentioned this before in our blogs on teeth whitening. The claim of this type of toothpaste is that it also helps to kill toxins and harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to suggest that there is much truth in this and we generally advise our Chelmsford patients to avoid using his type of toothpaste due to its abrasive properties which could damage the enamel on your teeth.
Less ‘alternative’ and more widely used than the two methods above, mouthwash sales are healthy for the companies producing them, but how beneficial are they really?
There are some benefits to be had from using a mouthwash. As with water, swilling and spitting will help to remove food and bacteria. Some mouthwashes also contain fluoride which can help to strengthen the tooth enamel and others also have antibacterial properties which can help too. Some types also add a protective film over the teeth, but whilst this can help to protect the teeth, the film is sticky and can also attract staining.
As many people use these to help their breath smell nicer, some may be tempted to do little or nothing else to keep their teeth and gums clean. Mouthwashes alone will not fully protect your teeth, and whether you use it or the other methods mentioned above, you still need to brush and floss every day.
Dental checkups are also important so that any minor dental issues that arise can be treated promptly and restored using a less extensive treatment than might be needed if the problem is allowed to become worse.
To make your appointment to see one of our Chelmsford dental team, please call Blue Sky Dental on 01245 211070.