A leading dentist has answered some of his most commonly-asked questions – including how often you should change your toothbrush and whether you should try oil pulling.
Dr Craig Wilson, who works at Sydney Holistic Dental Centre with Dr Lewis Erlich, has been practicing dentistry for over 25 years – and spoke in conversation with Dr Lewis about the main questions clients want to know the answers to.
From flossing to whitening, FEMAIL reveals the dental advice you need to follow.
The first question Dr Erlich asked Dr Wilson was about was oil pulling. What is it, is it something he would recommend and how often?
‘Oil pulling is a tough one. I admire people that do this, because it takes time,’ Dr Wilson said on Dr Erlich’s podcast.
‘The regimes that I’ve read about take between 15 and 17 minutes at a time, constantly swishing around oil in your mouth.’
However, Dr Wilson said that such a practice is beneficial – principally because it is both ‘anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory’.
‘Any time we can get the right balance of bacteria in our mouths, it’s going to be a positive,’ he said.
‘We are never going to be bacteria-free, but oil pulling each day will give us that anti-inflammatory effect.’
On the whole, however, the dentist said that unless you have the time for it, oil pulling is not necessary.
‘For me, I haven’t got enough hours in a week,’ he said.
‘I love those people have the discipline to maximise their health, but for the general population it’s not essential.
‘You’re far better off finding the time to floss for a minute or two each day.’
The second question Dr Wilson is commonly asked is how can someone get their partner to go to the dentist?
The answer to this, he said, is to find out their motivating factor.
‘If you need to get your partner to get their teeth checked, then find their motivating points,’ he said.
‘Everyone has one, but warn them that avoidance is dangerous on a lot of levels. Things that happen in the mouth often come from a lack of symptoms.
‘No one knows what’s going on in there until something presents visually or there is pain. Work on the preventative side of things and remember early diagnosis is cost-effective and painless.’
With all sorts of toothpastes on the shelves it can be difficult to know which is the best to buy.
But the good news is that Dr Wilson said there is no such thing as a ‘best toothpaste’.
‘I don’t think there is a best toothpaste; everyone needs a custom plan,’ he said.
‘You need to be assessed for risk in oral disease, and once a professional has looked at all those factors, we can work our your risk profile.
‘People with a high decay rate will benefit from toothpaste with fluouride that can be applied topically as it will help to re-mineralise their teeth.’
He said you should ‘treat yourself holistically’. Get advice on what works, and go from there.
Teeth whitening has become all the rage in recent years, with the promise of a sparkling Hollywood smile with little downtime.
But is is bad for your teeth and their enamel?
‘Tooth whitening is a good thing in many ways as it produces self-esteem. I will never say don’t do things like that,’ Dr Wilson said.
‘But you have to do things under the right conditions. Tooth-whitening solutions are bleach. They are hydrogen peroxide 90 per cent of the time and we describe them as teeth-whitening solutions because it sounds better.’
Remember what you’re putting on your teeth, he warned.
‘If they are well-produced and available through a dentist exclusively, they [tooth whitening kits] will not have an effect on your enamel.
‘Some that aren’t under prescription, I’d be worried about. Do it in the right way. Don’t half do things and get sucked into the marketing.’
Lastly, the dentist answered how often you should change your toothbrush – which is often much more regular than you might think.
For this, he explained, it’s all about the visible inspection.
‘If you get that shaggy dog look, it’s beyond the time you should have used it,’ Dr Wilson said.
‘It needs some level of rigidity, but the bristles should have ideally softened a bit too.’
Dr Wilson said you should make time to clean your toothbrush, as this is often something people forget.
‘So many people don’t clean their toothbrushes very well. It shouldn’t have residual toothpaste sitting at the bottom of it, as this can often harbour bacteria,’ he said.
Ditch your toothbrush if you’ve had a cold or the flu, and keep it away from your toilet to protect any spray from accidentally getting on your brush.