Why brushing your teeth straight after meals isn’t always the best idea.

Mostly brushing you teeth after eating is a good idea, the reasoning being that the quicker you remove the food and the sugar from your mouth the less chance that it can cause problems. However there are some circumstances where this isn’t a good idea, specifically after eating or drinking foods with a high acid content, such as fruit juice, lemons, vinegar, wine and soft drinks.

The acid in this type of food has the effect of softening the enamel of the teeth.  If you then go and brush your teeth you stand a much higher chance of damaging the enamel.  Exposure to acidic foods or drinks is one of the main reasons that enamel wears away or erodes. This process, known as tooth erosion, leaves the dentine exposed and your teeth much more sensitive.

Since drinking a glass of fruit juice in the morning with breakfast or a glass of wine in the evening  is a common thing, this would be a key time to watch for this type of problem.  There are some specific things you can do to help to minimise the impact of the acid on your enamel.

  • Rinse your mouth out with water after eating or drinking the acid containing food or drink.
  • Use a straw to drink which has the impact of delivering the juice to the back of the mouth and bypassing some of the teeth. (you may not be able to pull this off whist drinking wine!)
  • Leave at least 30 minutes before you brush your teeth after eating something acid, this give the saliva the chance to neutralise the acids and also re mineralise the enamel.
  • Don’t use a hard bristle brush and don’t brush aggressively, you can further soften your bristis of your brush by running it under hot water.
  • Be careful with the use of electric tooth brushes, consult your dentist or hygienists to determine the right amount of electric tooth brush use.
  • Other things can also damage the enamel of your teeth, such as grinding, and this can be difficult for the individual to spot as you can do it at night, or not even be aware of it, regular checkups can help spot signs of grinding, and your dentist can then help you overcome it.

Bob Is the practice manager at the Natural Smile Dental practice.www.thenaturalsmile.co.uk you can also  pick up more tips on the Natural Smile’ facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/thenaturalsmile

Greening Up The Roots – The Journey to a Green Dentist

From December 100% of the electricity that we use at the Natural Smile will be from renewable sources, and it feels really good to know that every service that we offer , every email that we send is now being powered by the wind,water and the sun.

My next challenge is to try to decrease our reliance on natural gas, and I’m pleased to see that green gas is becoming a more realistic alternative. It works by getting microbes to break down the organic material from leftover food processes, using waste potato peelings from a chip factory for example. The by product of this is a gas that can be used in place of the natural gas we are using at the moment, what remains of the food waste is a great fertiliser.

I should add of course that there are lots of things that we are already doing to try to minimise our impact on the environment.

We only use LED lighting in the practice which cuts the energy consumption, we use only recycled paper and where possible use vegetable based inks.

We have cut our car journeys to and from the practice, almost by 50% recently, and have enjoyed taking the train to the recent dental shows.  Our computer upgrade last year switched out large power hungry pcs for small solid state minimal power alternatives, our hardware team believe that all of them take about as much power as just one of the old ones!

All of the paints that we used and still use are low VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), all of the wood we use is FSC certified.

A few years ago we undertook an exercise to see how many of the chemicals that we use in the practice we can replace with natural products, first out the door were the industrial dental industry standard cleaners and disinfectants that we used, replaced with excellent non harmful alternatives, by the time we finished the exercise the most harmful item that we had in the surgery was the Ecover dishwasher tablets!

Each one of these areas (and the many other initiatives that we are undertaking, not mentioned here) are worthy of their own piece and when I get the time I might just give them the time they deserve!

The Big challenge once I have gotten to grips with the Eco-gas, is minimising the carbon footprint of the dental equipment that we use.  This one is tricky because there isn’t much appetite in the dental industry for this type of thinking most of it tends to be determined by cost, but I aim to change that, even if only in a small way!

Bob Is the practice manager at the Natural Smile Dental practice.www.thenaturalsmile.co.uk you can also  pick up more tips on the Natural Smile’ facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/thenaturalsmile

So how do you know if your dentists is properly cleaning instruments?

You may have seen the recent news story about a dentist in Nottingham who is under investigation for poor infection control practices. When I read this story it got me thinking how would you as a patient know if your dentist is following good infection control practices?  There are a couple of things that you could do to find out!

  • Firstly speak to your dentist, or anyone in the dental team for that matter – we don’t bite!  They will be able to tell you what the practice does to guard against the risk of cross infection (the transfer of infection from one patient to another), ask to see the infection control policy, most dental practices will take pride in their infection control measures, I know we do, and will be happy to explain how it all works.

  • Ask to see where the decontamination is done, all dental practice should have a means of sterilising reusable instruments, probably an autoclave, which kills all the nasties, and there should be a strict work flow from unsterile instruments to sterilised ones, so that the two cannot come into contact.  Once the instruments have been sterilised, they should be bagged to keep them sterile.

  • A practice should keep records for two years to show that each time the steriliser has been used it reached the correct temperature and pressure to kill the bugs.  Its also gets independently validated each year and serviced twice a year.  At the Natural Smile we also have a washer-disinfector which is a best practice recommendation in the fight against cross infection.

  • Your dentists, hygienist and nurse should be wearing facemasks, gloves, and clinical uniform.  Gloves and masks are disposable and should be changed between patients; hands should be washed between patients.  The surgery and chair should be wiped down before each patient using disinfectant, and disposable covers are placed on all difficult to clean areas in the surgery, like the light handle, the computer keyboard.

  • Check your dentist has passed its most recent inspection from the CQC, you can do that from the CQC website or as in our case here we have included a link to the report on our website.  This will tell you of any concerns spotted at the last inspection.

  • All of the clinical waste (anything that has touched a patient) has to be disposed of properly, through a licensed carrier of hazardous waste.

There are many more things that we do behind the scenes, to ensure your safety in this respect, but these are things that you look for yourself, to put your mind at ease.

Bob Seymour November 2014

Bob Is the practice manager at the Natural Smile Dental practice. www.thenaturalsmile.co.uk you can also  pick up more tips on the Natural Smile’ facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/thenaturalsmile