As I walked through Health section at Woolies, I saw a man gazed blankly in front of the dental products.

Standing in front of him was a giant wall of toothpastes, tooth brushes, flosses, mouthwashes, denture products and whitening products. As he picked up a toothpaste, he turned to look at the labels, made a confused face, placed the toothpaste back into the shelve and picked up another toothpaste. A lady came by and quickly picked up a Colgate Total toothpaste, which was on special at the time, and walked away swiftly. The man saw what the lady did, picked up a Colgate Total toothpaste himself and then started starring at colourful mouthwashes instead.

Sometimes it is easy for me to forget that the general public doesn’t know what I know about oral health. From time to time, I would tell my patients “don’t forget to floss”, “brush your teeth twice a day” or “make sure you keep an eye on little Tommy when he’s brushing his teeth”. But the question is, do people really know when, what and why they should be doing to keeping their teeth and gum healthy?

Simply put, we have two main ways of keeping our oral health in shape: (1) mechanically and (2) chemically.

Mechanical removal of micro-organisms is and will always be the most effective method. Brushing with a soft or very soft toothbrush with gentle force is more than enough to remove plaque. Floss allows removal of the same plaque in area unreachable with the bristles of toothbrushes. Professional cleaning with an ultrasonic scaler at the dentist allows removal of hardened plaques called calculus.

Chemical agents such as toothpaste and mouthwashes is considered an adjunct to your daily brushing and flossing, since they provide additional substances such as fluoride, phosphate and calcium to help enhance/remineralise the tooth structure. They are therefore not effective if a layer of micro-organisms is sitting on the surface of the tooth as the chemical substances cannot penetrate through it.

Brushing twice a day allows regular removal of plaque thus prevent damage to the tooth and gum. Brushing  for at least for two minutes a day ensures we spend enough time to clean as much surfaces of our teeth with toothbrush, because more than 90% of the population never clean their teeth properly every single time.

So, do you need to brush everyday? Yes. Do you need to floss everyday? Yes. Do you need to use mouthwash? That depends on your specific oral condition!

As always I am happy to discuss what best suits your oral hygiene needs, and with online appointments available making that appointment has never been easier !


Dr Terry Pu!



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