Bristol dentist asks: are you brushing your teeth with microbeads?We’re all aware of the introduction of microbeads – tiny balls of plastic smaller than a grain of sand – to the exfoliating products we use.

We’re also equally aware of their drawbacks – how they end up in the oceans, sucking up toxins and eventually ending up ending up in the bellies of fish (some of whom end up in the bellies of some of us). In fact, it’s been announced that they’ll be banned in cosmetics in the UK by the end of 2017.

Microbeads in dental products

But were you aware that microbeads can also be used in dental products? That fact was recently drawn to our attention by a Mail Online article about a London woman who started using a whitening toothpaste, unaware that
it contained microbeads – and her use of an electric toothbrush meant she was effectively grinding small particles of plastic into her teeth and gums.

Now she’s claiming that she’s lost about 2mm from the gums surrounding her lower front teeth and complains of pain when she drinks fruit juice.

This problem flared up a couple of years ago, when American dentists started to notice tiny flecks of plastic embedded in their patients’ gums, and although most toothpastes in the UK have cut them out, there are still a few
toothpastes that haven’t yet.

It goes without saying that microbeads are a definite no-no when it comes to oral health – not only do they cut into the enamel and gum tissue, they can also trap bacteria and lead to all manner of infections.

So why put them in?

Usually found in skin products, microbeads are seen as a cheap and always-available substitute for natural exfoliants, and they can also bulk out and add colour to a product. There’s no actual benefit for the user.

Because the toothpastes involved don’t advertise the fact that they use microbeads, you need to take a close look at the ingredients – if they contain the likes of plastics such as Polyethylene, Polypropylene, Polyethylene Terephthalate and Polymethyl Methacrylate, you need to stop using them right away. If in doubt, ask your dentist

Bristol dentists explain the different types of mouthwashThere’s an ever-expanding and bewildering array of mouthwashes on the shelves nowadays, and they all make different claims. Here at CK Dental in Bristol, we receive a lot of enquires about the gargly stuff, so here’s a few things you need to know…

Therapeutic v cosmetic mouthwash

Mouthwashes fall into two categories. Cosmetic mouthwash (which is used solely for the freshening of the breath), and therapeutic mouthwash (which contains ingredients designed to fight oral bacteria).

If you’re just after the former, you don’t really need mouthwash – a stick of sugarless gum will suffice. If you’re after the optimum treatment with your mouthwash, you need to make sure you pick up the latter.


Many cosmetic mouthwashes trumpet the fact that they’re alcohol-free on the packaging, and usually contain astringent salts that will freshen the mouth – but won’t kill germs.

However, the new generation of mouthwashes are beginning to turn away from the hard stuff, as it dries out the mouth and can burn gum and cheek tissue, creating a whole new breeding ground for bacteria.

Antibacterial agents

If you want your mouthwash to put in serious work, this is the sort of element you need to have in your choice of brand. Even better if they contain germicides like cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) which fight plaque as well as take down bacteria and combat bad breath.


A no-brainer of an ingredient, to be honest.

When should I use mouthwash?

An easier question to answer would be; ‘When shouldn’t I use mouthwash?’, because if you’re using it directly after brushing your teeth, you won’t get the maximum benefit from either of them.

It’s always best to not rinse your mouth after brushing – either with water or mouthwash – because you want a film of toothpaste on your teeth for as long as possible. Get into the habit of leaving the toothpaste to do its work for a while before reaching for the mouthwash, or – even better – use mouthwash after meals if you haven’t the time to brush.

electric toothbrushAccording to a recent survey conducted by the Oral Health Foundation, one in four Britons believe that electric toothbrushes are for the lazy, which came as an enormous surprise to us here at CK Dental practice in Bristol.

So let’s lay out a few comparisons between the electric toothbrush and good old elbow grease and see if that’s really the case…

Brush movements

According to tests, the average motions made by the user of a regular toothbrush result in 300 to 600 movements per minute. An electric toothbrush, on the other hand, can deliver over 48,000 movements a minute – a huge improvement.

Furthermore, while manual toothbrush users can easily fall into bad brushing habits – such as an endless back-and-forth motion, as opposed to the circular motion that dentists recommend – virtually all electric toothbrushes rotate, which is far more effective in sweeping plaque away.


While manual toothbrush users are getting far less activity going on in their mouths as opposed to their electric counterparts, they also run more of a risk in damaging their teeth by pressing too hard.

This is not so much of a danger with the more modern electric toothbrushes, as a lot of them have built-in sensors that alert the user when they’re being pressed against the tooth.


Another department where the electric toothbrush comes out on top is with kids. While they can’t usually brush as well as they might with a manual toothbrush (and find it boring), the electric toothbrush does all the hard work – and they actually enjoy brushing their teeth with one.

In short, there’s nothing at all wrong with using a standard toothbrush – providing you know how to use it properly. If you feel you could use a little more power and convenience during your daily dental routine, however, we recommend you upgrade to electric as soon as you can.

Free_Macro_White_Teeth_With_Dental_Floss_and_Red_Lipstick_Creative_Commons_(509495525)It’s been a part of the ‘proper’ dental care regime for decades now, and promoted as the one treatment that can get your teeth and breath truly clean. But the reputation of flossing has taken a battering of late with the introduction of interdental brushing – and according to recent studies, certain experts are predicting it may have reached the end of its tape.

A lot of floss about nothing?

Ever since America’s Associated Press conducted a secret survey amongst governmental health and dental experts – and came away with the conclusion that none of them would actually say that flossing had any real benefit – the US federal government quietly dropped its recommendations of the practice in its recent dietary guidelines, which has been there for 37 years.

Should you stop flossing?

Now that the NHS has announced that it may be reviewing its position on the matter, where does that leave us? It bears repeating that, like their modern counterparts, the incorrect and forced use of dental floss can do more harm than good. Poor technique can cause tooth and gum damage, but it can also dislodge bad bacteria, which can cause infection.

However, while interdental brushes have been proven to be more effective in removing food debris in hard-to-reach places, not everyone can use them: those of us with very little gap space between our teeth due to their natural growth (or impacted wisdom teeth) find that even the thinnest interdental brush is too large to fit snugly.

And there’s also the psychological benefit of flossing: not only does flossing shift mouth debris when it’s there, the user actually feels that they have a cleaner mouth after using it, which is important.

Our advice: if you haven’t tried interdental brushes yet, give them a try – they might work better for you. And if they’re not hitting the spot, review and improve upon your flossing technique.

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Telephone: 0117 9059 866

CK Dental | Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital – The Chesterfield, 3 Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN