We often ask ourselves questions about the relationship between the food we consume and the preservation of a beautiful healthy appearance of our teeth. For this reason, I went to visit Dr. Anthony Fakhoury, surgical dentist (USJ) and owner of the cosmetic dentistry clinic “Smile To Smile” (https://www.facebook.com/SmileToSmileDentalClinics) who has been so kind to provide me with the answers we were looking for.
1- Is it true that there are foods or drinks that can cause the yellowing and staining of our teeth? If so, could you give me some examples?
Yes, it is true. Some foods can cause the premature yellowing of our teeth since they contain substances that can stain and damage the white enamel that covers them. The tooth enamel is the element which gives our teeth their characteristic white color. If you wish to have examples of such foods and drinks, I will mention black coffee, tea, red wine, soy sauce, tomato sauce, curry, soft drinks, etc.
2- Some dentists don’t advise eating acidic foods as they can damage the tooth enamel. What is your opinion on this?
Indeed, acids can cause what is called teeth ‘mylolyse’, which is the erosion of the enamel at the dental neck level. Therefore, we should reduce to the maximum the contact between the surface of the enamel and the acidic content in soft drinks, orange juice, lemon, etc.
3- Parents often tell their children that eating sweets leads to tooth decay? How far is this true? And do sweeteners and aspartame, for example, have the same effect?
Sugar contributes indirectly to tooth decay. The acidic substances produced by the bacteria in our mouth (and which are fed from sugar) harm and weaken the teeth and thus they promote the creation of cavities. As for sweeteners, these can certainly reduce the incidence of dental decay but it should be noted also that sugar-free products may lead in general to threatening our dental health due to their content of acidic flavorings.
4- My grandmother used to tell me that it’s OK to brush my teeth with sodium bicarbonate which helps whiten them. Is this true? If so, how many times can we do that without damaging our teeth?
Sodium bicarbonate can be used daily, just like toothpaste, but not on the long run. It can indeed yield some whitening and shining of the teeth but not as much as a professional treatment which will last much longer.
5- How true is it that it’s not advisable to brush our teeth immediately after eating certain foods? If true, why and what are such foods?
The act of brushing our teeth after every meal is the ideal thing to do. Although some foods have the potential of self-cleaning like apple, carrot, and lemon. However, this is not enough for maintaining a healthy, clean and hygienic mouth.
6- We all know that oral hygiene is always the key to preserving healthy teeth and a beautiful smile! How often should we brush our teeth daily? Also, what should be the duration of the brushing and what are the moves to adopt?
Brushing our teeth should be a compulsory habit, just like eating, that is at least twice a day, although three times is the ideal frequency. Also, each brushing should last a minimum of 3 to 4 minutes with a back and forth motion while rotating the brush 45 degrees upward for the upper arch and 45 degrees downward for the lower arch.
7- One last question, is it necessary or not that we humidify the toothbrush before applying toothpaste?
It’s not, for sure!! The toothpaste and the toothbrush will get humidified while brushing thanks to the action of the saliva and this is sufficient.