Five minutes with a dentist

There are only two enjoyable things about visiting the dentist: One, happy gas; and two, the assurance that the ordeal is over for another six months.

Earlier this year, we got up in Dr Priya Lal’s grill about everyday dental hygiene and what steps to take to ensure we stay out of that painstaking pleather chair for as long as humanly possible. As her latest oral-abusing patients, Dr Lal bestowed TheVine with some tips, advising the non-medical among us how to really ward off bad breath and the truth behind toothbrush-sharing. With still-ailed gums and tongues, we picked her brains for more tips to ensure that that plastic suction device, banana flavoured whitening paste and the foreboding sound mouth tools are only ever sporadic fixtures in our day-to-day lives. 

How often should I replace my toothbrush?

Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles become worn or frayed. But if you’ve had a cold, the flu, a mouth or throat infection, change your toothbrush sooner as these germs can hide in toothbrush bristles and promote re-infection.

Is brushing my tongue important?

A major cause of bad breath is the build-up of bacteria on the tongue. Use a tongue scraper against your tongues surface and make slow sweeping strokes from the back to the front. If you have a strong gag reflex, use a tongue scraper rather than the back of your toothbrush as it’s less likely to hit the back of your throat.

Should I use a mouthwash?

Mouthwash is only really needed in particular circumstances. Dentists may prescribe anti-particular mouthwashes if you have gum disease. Other than that, the only benefit of using a mouthwash on a regular basis is to help keep your breath fresh. Make sure you use a mouth wash that doesn't contain alcohol, as rinses containing alcohol can dry the soft tissues of the mouth. 

How do I make my teeth look whiter without bleaching them?

Ladies – choose lipstick shades wisely - a red hue with a blue pigment or a medium coral tones are fabulous as darker colours make your teeth look whiter, whereas lighter coloured lipsticks tend to bring out the yellow tones in teeth.

Regular dental cleans will help remove extrinsic stains from food, tobacco, wine etc., and dental calculus which can be yellow or brown in colour.

Avoid smoking - Tar and nicotine in cigarettes cause teeth to become yellow.

Flossing – removes stains in between your teeth.

When is the best time to brush my teeth?

Brush your teeth in the morning before breakfast and last thing at night before you go to bed.  Avoid brushing straight after a meal as it can damage your teeth, especially if you've had acidic foods and drinks such as fruit and wine.  This is because your enamel is temporarily softened by acid and can be worn away when brushed. It’s best to wait about an hour after a meal before brushing your teeth so your saliva has time to neutralise acids. 

If you’d like a dental question answered, email Dr Priya at This article is only a guide and for advice we encourage you to consult a medical practitioner. 

Dr Priya Lal
High Dental
1187 High Street
Armadale VIC 3143

(Image via Shutterstock)

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1 comments so far..

  • vineoct4's avatar
    Date and time
    Wednesday 27 Feb 2013 - 11:58 PM
    helping article
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