A patient very often has many a woe that they wish to share once reclined in the dental chair. Be it marital, gynaecological, psychological or spiritual. It is fairly difficult to recommend a mouthwash to help with genital itching, although at a push I would recommend Listerine. Mainly because the burning sensation as it melts the soft tissues of the mouth are bound to cause a distraction from the pain of itching elsewhere.
The top five most commonly complained about mouth problems are recession, bleeding gums, sensitivity, bad tastes and staining. The most commonly asked questions are what toothpaste would I recommend, should they be using a mouthwash and are there actually any benefits to using an electric toothbrush.
Some of these issues I have already tackled in previous blogs. Oral vibration or manual stimulation tackles the electric versus manual conundrum. Why breath can smell like death and there’s a lot to worry, about the interdental slurry answers the questions about bad tastes, bad breath and how to tackle it. Oral explosion anyone? Don’t mind if I don’t is a whistle stop tour of mouthwashes and their worth. If that lot doesn’t get you brushing your heart disease away, I don’t know what will.
What are we left with? Let’s start with recession.
As I am all out of funny banter about the UK’s economy, I’ll stick with gum recession. Although there are a number of reasons why recession occurs, the two main ones are over-brushing and gum disease. Gum disease is normally associated with gum bleeding, gum soreness and bad breath. The gaps between the teeth can widen and the teeth can drift out of their original alignment. If you think you have gum disease, visit a hygienist. Pronto. If you think you’re brushing too hard, this is what you might see.
My crudely drawn on lines show where the gum line should be. Recession from overbrushing tends to have more on one side. If you’re right handed, you’ll overbrush the left hand side and vice versa.
Is there a toothpaste that can grow back gums? No. But there is a toothpaste I would recommend that can avoid exacerbating the recession. Sensodyne Pronamel. I recommend it because it is the least abrasive toothpaste on the market so when used alongside an electric toothbrush that senses you’re brushing too hard or a Wisdom Click Manual toothbrush that bends back with too much pressure, you can minimise damage. Oh, and stop being a scrubber.
As an added bonus to those health conscious out there, Sensodyne Pronamel doesn’t contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, the foaming agent in everything that gets a lot of bad press. It can also help with associated sensitivity caused by gum recession. Which moves us nicely onto sensitivity.
Tooth sensitivity is a big problem and has many causes. If you notice hot and cold sensitivity, or sensitivity when eating sweet things, pop along to see your dentist to rule out decay. If you’re getting sensitivity and have noticed your teeth starting to flap about a bit, pop along to see your hygienist. If you get the kind of sensitivity that makes you want to remove your own head when the weather turns cold or because some inconsiderate bastard put ice in your drink, then there are a few products that may help.
Patient feedback suggests Colgate Pro-Relief and Sensodyne Repair and Protect (recently rebranded as Sensodyne Complete) are the market leaders in helping with sensitivity. There is also a toothpaste available on prescription called Duraphat 2800 which contains double the amount of fluoride available in over the counter toothpastes.
Whichever one you decide to try, follow these very important rules: Brush morning BEFORE breakfast and at night, DO NOT rinse your mouth out with water after you brush (don’t do it with any toothpaste as you’re rinsing the active ingredients away) and before bed, rub the toothpaste around the sensitive teeth and leave it on.
Here’s the one thing that everyone wants to know. Do whitening toothpastes work? Yes and no. They don’t physically whiten teeth but they are abrasive so can lift the stains that make the teeth appear darker. Are they worth using? There is an argument that whitening toothpastes improve oral health because the users brush better with it as they want to improve their smile. However, I don’t tend to recommend whitening toothpastes; they’re more expensive and because they’re more abrasive, they can worsen pre-existing recession and sensitivity or start to cause it.
If you don’t suffer with sensitivity or gum recession and want to know what toothpaste to use, just look along the bottom shelf.
And if the Listerine hasn’t helped with the genital itching by the end of the week, perhaps pay your GP a friendly visit.