It’s time to smile again on your Zoom calls as we’ve got the lowdown on how to get those pearly whites to shine

Mask mouth is now a thing. Yes. We have another side-effect to the global pandemic that just keeps giving. But, we’re not letting this hit a damper in our morale. We are fighting back and taking charge as we spoke with London Dental Therapist Millie Bevan about the simple steps to getting a winning smile …

We’ve been reading more and more about a second side-effect to face masks (apart from the dreaded maskne) called mask mouth. As a dental professional can you tell us exactly what it is and what causes it?
Mask mouth is a new phenomenon that has come about in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic: the term refers to breath as a result of the continued wearing of the masks. Personally, I have to say I am sceptical of bad breath as a direct result of wearing a mask. I would suggest that instead of being the catalyst – the wearing of a mask actually highlights pre-existing bad breath, which is likely the result of poor oral hygiene and/or underlying gum issues.

Is there any way to avoiding it?
If you are noticing ‘mask mouth’ – the first thing I recommend is a trip to your dentist/hygienist. Halitosis (bad breath) can be treated and avoided with a well-structured and executed dental regimen. Bad breath and bleeding hums can be easy to fix but should also never be ignored as they can be early indicators of more permanent oral issues, such as gum recession and eventually loss of teeth. As part of your hygiene appointment you should be shown a tailored oral hygiene plan which should include interdental cleaning which would look something like this:
. using floss and interdental brushes
. correct toothbrushing technique
. tongue cleaning using a scraper and/or brushing the tongue

These steps will be your best defence against ‘mask mouth’, but I would also recommend having some sugar-free chewing gum on hand, along with regularly drinking water as this helps stimulate your saliva flow!

Now let’s get down to those pearly whites – what are the best kept secrets to having a winning smile?
I am yet again going to have to bang the regular dental/hygienist appointment how much regular appointment (ever 4-6 months) to ensure you are removing any staining and calculus (tartar) to keep your teeth clean, strong and resilient. For day to day maintenance it’s always best to avoid fizzy or acidic drinks (orange juice/coke), however if you can’t stay away just ensure that when you do indulge, you drink with a straw to minimise contact with your teeth. One slightly lesser-known tip is to wait an hour after drinking before you brush your teeth to reduce any chance of acid erosion. Lastly, I get my teeth whitened every year – I have custom built trays and if I see that they are getting slightly on the yellow side, I use top up gels for a couple of days.

Electric vs traditional toothbrush – which would you recommend?
Without a shadow of a doubt an electric toothbrush – more specifically an oscillating and rotating one; my favourite has to be oralB. I can honestly see which patients use electric vs manual based on their oral health. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a really good and reliable toothbrush. There are some great deals out there so well worth checking the likes of Boots and Amazon. I would also keep an eye out for a pressure detector and a built-in trimer to aid with quadrant by quadrant brushing. This is crucial when choosing a good brush as these features will help to ensure you’re brushing properly and getting equal coverage in all areas of your mouth when cleaning.

Teeth whitening strips; good or bad?
Anything that isn’t prescribed by a dentist isn’t certified to be safe for enamel and in most cases effective in actually whitening your teeth. Recent studies have shown that a lot of these ‘strips’ had a lesser effect on whitening the teeth than actual saline, which is in fact, a water solution. I would always recommend custom built trays and prescribed gels by your dentist to get the best and safest results.

Our obsession with coffee and tea has hit peak during lockdown, are there any long-term damaging effects to our teeth?
The short answer to this is yes – regular consumption of tea and coffee can result in staining, however you may be relieved to know that (in conjunction with regular brushing and good dental hygiene) this can be kept in check by stain removal and teeth whitening. With that said, what people must be aware of is that when you add sugar to tea and coffee and have this at regular intervals throughout the day, you do place yourself at higher risk of tooth decay. Long term this can lead to needing a filling or more serious treatment such as a root canal, crown or extraction of the tooth. Definitely good impetus to cut the sugar here and there; your teeth and bank account will thank you for it later own the line!

A potential second lockdown may not have us smiling quite yet, but with these tips we’re going to be showing off our pearly whites any chance we get.

Push Team x

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