An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it could also be keeping your dentist busy, a recent survey of oral hygiene experts has revealed.
The surprise warning about snacking on sugary fruit comes from a poll of 458 dentists, hygienists and dental professionals. Commissioned by the scientifically tested two-phase alcohol free mouthwash, Dentyl Active, the survey explored the foods and habits that are eroding Britain’s dental health.
Four out of five (82%) warned that snacking contributes to decay, plaque build-up and enamel erosion, and a third (32%) identified apples as a major cause of damage to teeth and gums — alongside the usual suspects such as chocolate (64%) and biscuits (47%).
The findings echo research by Professor David Bartlett at the King’s Dental Institute which found eating fruit may be as damaging to dental health than carbonated drinks. Bizarrely in the past, eating hard fruit after meals was advised in the belief that this would have “a regenerative influence upon the teeth and gums”.
CRUNCH TIME FACTS
It is not only our understanding of the dangers of acidic erosion that has changed, another factor driving dental concern may be increased popularity of sweeter apples such as the sugary Pink Lady, which are replacing sharper traditional varieties like the Cox and the Granny Smith.
Just under half (44%) of the experts questioned warned that fruit juice is also a key cause of tooth and gum problems and more than a third (36%) pinpointed savoury snacks such as crisps as problematic too. One possible explanation is that almost all the experts (98%) said foods which cling to the teeth are the most likely to cause damage.
The findings highlight the importance of dental routines which remove all trace of food debris and plaque. However, health audits confirm worrying gaps in the nation’s oral cleanliness.
Emeritus Professor of Dental Sciences at Newcastle University and leading periodontologist Robin Seymour points out: “We may be keeping our teeth longer, but there are still gaping holes in many people’s dental health regimes.”
He says: “A 2009 national survey of adult dental health found that 23% of adults brush their teeth only once a day and, despite the popularity of more efficient powered toothbrushes, many of those who brushed twice a day still had visible deposits of plaque, which cause dental decay and gum disease.”
A new report about to be published by Professor Seymour, advises that additional mechanical methods, such as flossing, will remove more plaque, but he highlights: “While flossing may have some benefits, the issue of flossing — which is not popular with people — appears to be one of compliance and preference.”
This consumer resistance has driven research into alternative methods of plaque removal, and the development of effective, innovative, alcohol-free mouthwashes such as the Dentyl Active range.
Professor Seymour notes: “Antiseptic mouthwashes now play an important role in plaque control. The novel two-phase action of Dentyl Active is scientifically tested to reduce plaque by up to 25% after brushing, while also removing food debris from the mouth. The non-alcohol, non-sting solution eliminates oral bacteria and helps to combat plaque bacteria and maintain healthy gums, which is great news for everyone’s daily oral care needs.”
Dentyl Active contains Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) and essential oils, which both have proven antibacterial power. As these ingredients act in different ways they are even more effective when used in combination. However, they can only work if the Dentyl Active mouthwash is shaken before use every time. Further mixing of the ingredients also takes place in the mouth helping to ensure these powerful antiseptic elements reach all tooth and gum surfaces.
CPC is a water based antiseptic which inhibits the growth of bacteria and appears to be more effective against the (gram positive) bacteria associated with the early stages of plaque formation. It works by binding to the bacterial cell wall and breaking down its fatty outer coating. This, in turn, creates tiny holes which trigger cell death. In-vitro studies confirm CPC eliminates oral bacteria.
Essential oils are more effective against the (gram-negative) bacteria found in well-established plaque. As essential oils are, in essence, lipids, they flow freely through the fatty walls of bacterial cells and once inside they can stop several of the bacteria’s life-sustaining mechanisms. Perhaps more importantly, essential oils make the surface of the plaque bacteria more receptive to other antiseptic agents such as CPC.
Another key strength of the Dentyl Active range is that users can see the evidence in the sink, because the unique formulation highlights the deposits cleared from tooth surfaces providing proof of the amount of plaque that remained, even after brushing. The alcohol free formula does not burn oral mucosa or carry any risk for malignant change in the oral tissues. It also means the Dentyl Active range can be used by people who avoid alcohol for reasons of faith.