Looking after your teeth and gums can improve your general health, save you money and keep you looking younger. Dental expert Dr Uchenna Okoye explains how you can achieve and maintain a healthy smile
As the clinical director of the London Smiling Dental Group, Dr Uchenna Okoye is an authority on gum health and oral care. In response to an ICM survey for the Guardian/Oral-B, which revealed that teeth are the part of the body most British people worry about,* she shares her expertise on achieving a healthy smile.
Are there warning signs we should look out for that indicate a gum problem? Healthy gums should be pink and stippled (with fatty dimples) and won’t bleed. Red, inflamed gums that do bleed when you clean or floss aren’t a good sign, so book in with your dentist for a check-up. Once the bigger problem has been solved, maintain healthy gums by using the right brushing technique and gum-protection toothpaste.
In what ways are British people neglecting their gums?
Research implies that less than 50% of Brits brush their teeth correctly. On average, Brits clean their teeth for 30 seconds less than the desired two minutes. Also, brushing too hard can damage gums and erode tooth enamel. An electric toothbrush applies the right pressure when used correctly and removes more plaque than a manual.
Shouldn’t we wait until we’re older before we start worrying about gum health?
While less common in children, gum issues can arise from your teenage years onwards. Gum problems are the major cause of tooth loss in adults, but can be slowed down to a rate that should allow you to keep most of your teeth for life.
What is the biggest oral-health misconception?
Many people assume that white teeth equal healthy teeth, but to keep your smile beautiful you need to keep your gums healthy. As many as one in two Brits have gum problems, yet most of us don’t know this and aren’t treating the problem. Gums aren’t top of the health agenda so I’m working with Oral-B to launch a Love Your Gums campaign to raise awareness of the importance of gum health.
Do we have to spend lots of time on oral care to look after our gums properly?
It takes five minutes a day to look after your gums – four minutes to clean your teeth (two minutes, twice a day) and a minute to floss. It’s a small amount of time when you consider how important your smile is . And use a great-quality product: I love Oral-B Pro-Expert Premium Gum Protection toothpaste, which I view as a premium foundation for your teeth. With good brushing, it takes care of gums with outstanding whitening results.