A survey conducted to establish just how much Cheltenham residents know about oral healthcare, following the recent BBC One ‘The Truth About Your Teeth’ programmes, has revealed that there are significant gaps in dental professional recommendations and what is actually happening in people’s homes.
Illume, a family run dental practice located on Queens Road, thought it could be useful to find out more about its clients habits to establish if there was a need for its dental team to provide any additional help and advice.
Practice owner Tim Rumney explains, “We watched the two programmes with interest and whilst as expected they did contain an element of shock value, the shows also raised some valid points about how best to look after teeth and gums to help prevent decay.
“As dental professionals we tend to think everyone is as informed as we are about oral healthcare, but as our survey has revealed, this simply isn’t the case.”
The survey contained a range of questions about brushing habits and general knowledge around food and oral health.
Only 26% of respondents reported knowing that dentists recommend waiting an hour after eating before brushing teeth, whilst 69% confirmed that they brush their teeth after eating breakfast instead of before. Dental professionals advise people to clean teeth before breakfast to ensure acid in the mouth caused by eating is not brushed into the enamel, which can contribute to decay.
62% of participants also admitted to occasional or regular snacking during the day – something which the programme flagged as being particularly harmful for teeth due to the constant acid production caused by eating.
The harmful effects of hidden sugars were also discussed in the show which highlighted the experiences of a young girl who had to undergo multiple tooth extractions due to decay caused by sugar in milk! 32% of the respondents to Illume’s survey admitted that they did not know that milk contained sugar content, whilst 72% stated that they didn’t know that eating cheese after a meal helps to neutralise harmful acids in the mouth.
Just under a third of respondents advised that they floss between their teeth whilst an encouraging 47% advised that they use interdental brushes. More people admitted to brushing their gums (68%) than their tongue (32%), but more than half of the respondents (57%) did respond to say they were aware that a build-up of bacteria in the mouth can contribute to organ damage, such as heart disease.
Illume will be using the findings to identify any areas where it can offer additional support and advice to clients. Tim continues, “We pride ourselves on listening to our clients, but perhaps we should be talking even more too and reinforcing the oral hygiene advice we regularly give to all our clients.
“We will be using the findings to identify areas where we can further improve our communication with patients to ensure they are better aware of the issues raised. We give our clients all the information we believe appropriate and then it’s up to them to go home and implement it.”