Have you been getting the right advice?
This story originally appeared on news.com.au and is republished here with permission.
It’s the staple of dental hygiene. Brush twice a day — for at least two minutes — morning and night.
But a Sydney dentist claims that brushing isn’t the answer when it comes to impeccable oral hygiene, and that we should actually be focusing on our nutrition rather than cleaning and flossing.
Dentist Dr Steven Lin, who has been practising for almost a decade as a dentist, believes that the mouth-body connection is the best way to monitor our health — and that our diet is the cause of many problems in our mouth including rotten teeth to inflamed gums.
“Most adults, and almost no kids, brush and floss properly,” Dr Lin told news.com.au.
“It’s superficial, and while it’s a fine way to polish teeth, brushing is like taking a car with a broken engine to the car wash. It cleans but it doesn’t address problem.
According to the Australian Dental Association, we should “brush for at least two minutes morning and night, using a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head and a flexible neck”.
But according to Dr Lin, because brushing is something we’ve only been doing in the last few decades, we need to go back a diet fuelled with fats, vitamins D, A and K2 to keep our mouth in check.
“Harmful foods that we eat are what fuels disease in the mouth,” he said. “Vegetables oils and white flour are refined carbs, so anything with white flour has a very similar metabolic effect to sugar by creating cavities.
“Over time, we have stripped out foods that promote healthy teeth — like butter, meats, yolks and full fat dairy. If you don’t include these types of fats in your diet, you lose the ability to absorb those vitamins.”
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2010, 55 per cent of six-year-olds had experienced decay in their baby teeth, and 48 per cent of 12-year-olds had experienced decay in their permanent teeth.
In 2013, 16 per cent of adults with natural teeth had experienced toothache in the previous 12 months and 27 per cent reported feeling uncomfortable about their dental appearance.
Dr Lin said while there had been a shift from the ‘low fat’ movement since the early 2000s, there has been a shift towards a more functional model of oral health maintenance — including the elimination of mouth wash.
“I would never recommend mouthwash, it’s like throwing a grenade into the mouth” he said.
“Bad breath is a problem with microbiome in the mouth and mouthwash takes no consideration to microbiomes.
“Thousands of bacteria live in the mouth, and we have become so focused on scrubbing them away, we don’t consider what should and shouldn’t be there — it just wipes out everything.
“To get down to the body of the problem is to feed the probiotic bacteria, and bad breath is a sign of imbalance in the microbiome bacteria.
“That’s why eating for a healthy mouth is for a healthy body as well, and if we eat foods that give us healthy teeth, it’s what our bodies need as well.”
Everything from plaque, bad breath and irreversible bone loss will account for why you should be making those dreaded visits to the dentist. WSJ’s Angela Chen explains. Photo: Getty