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.
A dentist answered some of his most commonly-asked questions – including how often you should change your toothbrush and whether to try oil pulling (pictured: Dr Lewis Erlich)
Dr Craig Wilson, who works at Sydney Holistic Dental Centre with Dr Lewis Erlich (both pictured), has been practicing dentistry for over 25 years
1. What is oil pulling, do you recommend it and if so, how much?
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?
What is oil pulling?
* Oil pulling is an ancient practice that involves swishing oil in your mouth to remove bacteria and promote oral hygiene.
* It is often associated with Auyrveda, the traditional medicine system from India.
* Studies suggest that oil pulling can kill bacteria in the mouth and improve dental health.
* Some types of oil also contain properties that can naturally reduce inflammation and bacteria to promote oral health.
‘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.’
Dr Wilson said while oil pulling is beneficial, unless you have the time required to maximise your health, then the most important thing is to brush regularly and floss (stock image)
2. How do you get your partner to go to the dentist?
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.’
When it comes to toothpaste, both Dr Erlich (pictured) and Dr Wilson agreed that there is no best option, and instead a custom approach is the best way forward
3. What type of toothpaste is best and do we really need fluoride?
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.
‘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 (stock image)
4. Is whitening bad for your enamel?
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.’
When it comes to how often you should change your toothbrush, both Dr Erlich (pictured) and Dr Wilson said it’s all about the ‘visible inspection’ test
5. How often should I change my toothbrush?
How often should you change your toothbrush?
* Replace toothbrushes every three to four months.
* Consider getting a new toothbrush sooner if you have been sick, especially if the toothbrush is stored close to other toothbrushes.
* When in doubt, look at the bristles. If they are frayed, they won’t clean teeth as thoroughly.
* Because children often brush more rigorously than adults, they may need their toothbrushes replaced more often.
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.