Dentists say brushing teeth twice a day is important, but when exactly? – ABC News

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Dentists say brushing teeth twice a day is important, but when exactly?
We teach children to brush their teeth twice a day, and hopefully we're all still doing that as adults.
But when exactly should that brushing happen?
The most important time to clean your teeth is immediately before bed, according to Melbourne University professor and paediatric dentist David Manton.
So, should the morning brush be before breakfast or after?
"I don't think it matters," he said.
"With respect to decay, I don't think we see a difference at all."
While many people think the point of brushing is to clean remnant food off teeth, its main purpose is in fact to remove plaque.
Plaque, described by Professor Manton as "that white stuff you brush off", is what causes tooth decay.
We're supposed to limit our sugar to six teaspoons a day, but do you know how much of it is hiding in some of our most popular groceries?
The sugar in our diet feeds the bacteria living on the plaque, he told ABC Radio Melbourne's Jacinta Parsons and Sami Shah.
"It changes that environment so they like eating the sugar, they make acid, the acid dissolves the tooth and you get holes."
This is why reducing intake of sugary food and drink is important to oral health.
Dentists have raised the alarm about the rate of tooth decay in young children.
Experts recommend parents avoid giving children sugary drinks, including juice, and instead give them only plain milk or water.
"It's about diet, and so many of our processed foods have sugar in them that it's hard to get away from a sugary diet these days," Professor Manton said.
Professor Manton, who is also chair of the Oral Health Committee for the Australian Dental Association, said every child should go the dentist.
"We're trying to push that they should be having healthy child checks, not waiting until they have a problem."
He said even very young children should be getting regular dental check-ups.
"Our recommendation is normally within six months of the eruption of the first tooth, so that's normally around 12 months of age."
He accepted that the cost of dental appointments was a barrier for parents.
You can take a child to the doctor to be seen and have the costs covered under Medicare, whereas if you go to the dentist, in a lot of cases you have to pay for it yourself.
He said lower-income families might qualify for government assistance.
"There is the Child Dental Benefits Schedule that covers maybe 40 per cent of the population."
Brushing your teeth before breakfast will still improve your oral hygiene.
"You're cleaning the plaque off so there's nothing to eat the sugar," Professor Manton said.
Whenever you and your children brush your teeth, Professor Manton said it was vital you brush at least twice a day.
"Especially before you go to bed — it's the really important one for everyone."
But if you still want direction on your morning dental routine, then you could follow Professor Manton's example, who said he liked to "get the lumps of cornflakes off".
"I'm an after-breakfast guy."
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