Dr Alex George reveals best time to brush your teeth
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After graduating with a degree in medicine back in 2015, Dr Alex worked in the A&E department at University Hospital Lewisham in London, which he left in 2020 in order to train as a GP. With a substantial following on social media, the star has made multiple television appearances and creates regular short videos on TikTok. Dr Alex demystifies health related issues and provides the platform’s users with the latest advice from how to avoid indigestion to looking after your mental health.
In his latest video, the GP explained that contrary to popular belief, individuals should brush their teeth first thing in the morning and last thing at night, before eating breakfast.
In a video to his 812,800 followers, Dr Alex explained why: “It would make sense to brush your teeth after [eating breakfast],” he said.
“But it is wrong. The reason is when you eat food, your mouth becomes acidic, and then when you brush your teeth afterwards all you are doing is brushing that acidity into your enamel.
“[This is] bad for your teeth.”
Instead, Dr Alex strongly advises viewers to brush their teeth before breakfast, allowing the active ingredients within toothpaste to help protect teeth against damaging acidity.
He continued to add: “So, as much as you might not like it, brush your teeth as soon as you get up in the morning and the last thing before you go to bed.”
The TV doctor is not alone in promoting this advice about oral hygiene. In fact, dentist Dr Shan Lam BDS from Holland Park Dental adds that brushing teeth first thing in the morning is crucial.
Overnight and while sleeping, bacterial deposits collect on teeth and in the gum pockets. Additionally, those who tend to sleep with their mouth open will have dried out their teeth, leaving their mouths lacking in vitally important saliva. This growth of bacteria is a significant contributor to not only tooth decay but gum disease.
In addition to brushing, individuals should use fluoride mouthwash before leaving the house, as an extra precaution to rid lurking bacteria. Fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash have what is known as dual action meaning they help to get rid of plaque while preventing tooth decay.
For those who struggle to brush their teeth first thing in the morning, Holland Park Dental recommends trying to wait between 30-60 minutes for the PH balance of your mouth to neutralise before you then brush your teeth.
An individual’s choice of breakfast food may depend on how much time they should leave before brushing. Many breakfast products contain very high levels of sugar which may give a morning “boost” but also mean that individuals start the day with their teeth coated in sugar.
Instead Holland Park Dental recommends a sugar-free cereal or eggs, either boiled or scrambled. Additional suggestions include: no added sugar yoghurt (and avoid the honey) and even cheese; commonly eaten at this time across the rest of Europe. Surprisingly, cheese not only contains calcium and other minerals that help your tooth health, but also helps to balance the PH levels in your mouth which helps to reduce enamel erosion.
Even after eating breakfast, brushing teeth should be avoided after eating anything acidic – no matter what time of the day. Foods containing citric acid, like oranges, grapefruit and lemons, weaken tooth enamel meaning that brushing too soon after eating them can damage the enamel in its weakened state. Therefore, individuals should wait for at least an hour.
Prolonged exposure to phosphoric acid, which can be found in soft drinks like regular and diet fizzy drinks, can erode hard tissues from the tooth surface. This erosion can cause permanent damage to your teeth. In order to keep acid erosion to a minimum, individuals should limit snacking between meals and be mindful of consumption of soft drinks and sugary snacks.
For those who have a build-up of plaque on the teeth – usually caused by acidic foods – further problems such as gum disease, dental abscesses and tooth decay will occur. It is important to note that tooth decay may not cause any symptoms, meaning only regular check-ups to the dentist may be the only way to identify the condition.
For some, however, tooth decay can cause:
- Toothache – either continuous pain keeping you awake or occasional sharp pain without an obvious cause
- Tooth sensitivity – you may feel tenderness or pain when eating or drinking something hot, cold or sweet
- Grey, brown or black spots appearing on your teeth
- Bad breath
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Tooth decay is particularly common in children, so it is important that even from a young age, individuals know the importance of looking after their teeth and gums.
Several seemingly simple lifestyle choices can help to prevent tooth decay. These include:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste – spit after brushing, do not rinse
- Cleaning in between your teeth every day using floss or interdental brushes
- Using sugar-free medicines
- Having regular dental check-ups (your dentist will be able to advise you about how often you need to go).
Holland Park Dental also recommends keeping a glass of water beside your bed, making sure you drink it when you first wake up. This is a “helpful start to both kickstart metabolism and aid hydration”.
In comparison to other drinks such as coffee and tea, which can be initially refreshing, water is far better to avoid dehydration and prevent staining on teeth. Some people encourage the addition of fresh lemon juice to water. While this offers some additional taste, it could lead to tooth damage as lemon juice is relatively acidic and potentially harmful to the enamel, especially in hot water.
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