Clinical Associate Professor Matt Hopcraft is a dental public health expert with more than 20 years' experience in teaching, research and clinical practice. Father of two and former Masterchef Australia contestant, Matt is an avid foodie and passionate about promoting good oral health.
As a leading Australian dentist and Oral-B consultant, Matt knows the perils involved with not looking after your teeth and gums, and can advise on simple steps that Australians can take to improve their oral health. He can offer expert tips on how to maintain healthy gums, the best and worst foods for your teeth, and how to introduce your children to power brushing.
Together with Dr Sophie Beaumont, Matt co-founded Sugar-Free Smiles, which advocates for public health policies and regulatory initiatives to reduce sugar consumption and improve the nation's oral health.
Matt is the former President of the Victorian Branch the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and has published more than 40 papers in dental journals.
Clinical Associate Matthew Hopcraft is a dental public health expert with over 20 years' experience in teaching, research and clinical practice.
He started work as a dental officer in the Australian Army, and completed his Masters in Community and Preventive Dentistry studying water fluoridation in young adults. From there he pursued an academic career, teaching dental public health and general practice dentistry at Melbourne University, eventually becoming the Director of Clinical Education.
Matthew completed a PhD investigating the oral health of people in nursing homes and models of care utilizing dental hygienists, and has published more than 40 papers in dental journals. He has had a strong involvement with the Australian Dental Association, including a term as President of the Victorian Branch and on Federal Council.
Matthew now works as a Clinical Advisor at the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne and as a Professional & Scientific Relations Consultant to Oral-B.
Question: What are the five best and worth foods for our teeth?
Professor Matthew Hopcraft: Best: An apple a day is great for your general health and for your teeth and gums, but there are plenty of other foods which can help maintain a beautiful smile.
Calcium containing foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt
Worst: Did you know citrus foods contain high acid content that can strip tooth enamel, leading to sensitivity and making your teeth vulnerable to decay? These are some foods that may cause damage to your teeth.
Sweets and lollies
Question: How can we look after our teeth as we head into the cooler months?
Professor Matthew Hopcraft: As the winter season approaches, this can result in unbearable tooth sensitivity for many, due to the cooler temperatures which can trigger pain and discomfort. The following tips can help strengthen and protect your teeth for the chilly days ahead.
Don't overdo it: When it comes to brushing, it is possible to overdo it. Excessive brushing, or brushing with bristles that are too hard can lead to gum recession and wear down tooth enamel.
No floss, your loss: Floss regularly, paying special attention to your back teeth which are likely to have more plaque on them because they are harder to reach.
Power brush: I recommend using an Oral-B power toothbrush, as they remove 100% more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush.
Replace your toothbrush every three months: Bristles that are worn remove less plaque.
Stay hydrated: Drinking water helps to keep the mouth clean as it reduces the acid that causes tooth decay. When we are dehydrated, there is less saliva to neutralise acids which can lead to tooth erosion. Opt for tap water whenever you can for the added benefit of fluoride.
Visit a dental professional regularly: For teeth cleaning and check-ups to stay on top of any issues you may have.
Question: Can you share your thoughts on at-home teeth whitening kits?
Professor Matthew Hopcraft: Whitening is a key priority for many people as they are becoming more aware of the importance of having a great smile. But as a nation we should also be concerned about visiting the dentist more regularly for check-ups, and leading a healthier lifestyle to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. An attractive smile is a healthy smile – so by taking great care of your teeth and removing stains with a great toothpaste, power-brush and regular flossing regime – you'll notice the results. In terms of at-home whitening treatments, always look for a toothpaste which contains fluoride as well as whitening ingredients. The Oral-B 3D White Luxe Diamond Strong range includes toothpaste, rinse, and white strips, and the Diamond Strong toothpaste actually helps to strengthen the enamel as well as removing stains.
Question: Is it possible to reverse the damage of coffee on teeth?
Professor Matthew Hopcraft: Many people like a coffee to kick start their day, however it won't make your teeth whiter. Coffee stains are caused over time and occur when tannins in the coffee build up on the tooth enamel. Caffeine is safe to consume in moderation, but it's important to take care of your dental health. Fortunately, there are at-home whitening products available to get your teeth in their best and brightest shape possible. For example, unlike many other whitening pastes, the new Oral-B 3D White Arctic Fresh toothpaste removes up to 80% of surface stains within 14 days, and helps to strengthen and protect teeth from further stains, giving you a naturally bright white smile.
Question: Can you talk about the damage of acid on teeth from drinks such as lemon water?
Professor Matthew Hopcraft: Many people think that drinking lemon water is a healthy alternative, but it can do significant damage to your teeth. Highly acidic food and drinks such as lemon water causes erosion to your tooth's outer covering, the enamel, leading to exposure and tooth sensitivity. I would recommend drinking plain water rather than adding lemon. If you do decide to drink lemon water, then the following tips will help provide some protection for your teeth:
Try drinking your lemon juice through a straw as this way it will bypass your teeth and minimise the risk of erosion.
Rinse your mouth with water directly after drinking the acidic lemon water. Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after drinking lemon water as the acid is still fresh on your teeth and can further damage tooth enamel.
Use a toothpaste that includes fluoride, such as Oral-B Pro Health that forms a barrier against damaging acids and helps to protect enamel and prevent erosion.
Question: How does pregnancy affect our teeth and gums?
Professor Matthew Hopcraft: Some women experience -pregnancy gingivitis' where the gums become more sensitive and bleed during brushing and flossing. This is related to hormone changes. Good oral hygiene is important – bleeding gums are a sign to brush more, not less. Visit your dentist if you are concerned.
Morning sickness - nausea and vomiting - can lead to dental erosion. It's best to wait at least an hour after a bout of morning sickness before brushing your teeth to protect the softened tooth enamel. Rinsing with water or having some milk or cheese are good ways to help neutralise the acid.
It's a common myth that calcium leeches from your teeth to your baby, but we know that this isn't true.
Question: Can you share your top tips for looking after our teeth and gums during pregnancy?
Professor Matthew Hopcraft: To ensure your taking care of your teeth and gums, as well as your baby-to-be, follow these tips to maintain good oral health:
Stick to a sound dental routine, including brushing for two minutes, twice a day and flossing regularly
If you experience bleeding or soreness in the gums, continue brushing more in the affected area to help prevent a build-up of bacteria
Use a specialised product to help address any dental problems or concerns. For example, the Oral-B Gum Care toothpaste range features ActivRepairTM technology, which is proven to work at the gum line to target both gum and enamel problems – with three toothpastes for different oral care needs. Visit your dental professional before, during and after your pregnancy. It's important to get regular teeth cleaning and check-ups while you're pregnant as this can make it harder for the body to fight gum disease.
Question: What can we do if we find we have sensitive teeth?
Professor Matthew Hopcraft: The causes of tooth sensitivity vary and can be caused by several factors such as overbrushing, teeth grinding, consuming too much highly acidic food and beverages, or even gum disease. Here are some steps you can take to treat and prevent tooth sensitivity:
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, such as Oral-B Precision Gum Care Ultra Thin Toothbrush Extra Soft as it is two times denser for a gentle and deep clean.
Brush with a sensitivity toothpaste, for example Oral-B Gum Care & Sensitivity Repair relieves sensitivity pain and revitalises gums. It promotes healthy gums by fighting plaque bacteria along the gumline and slowing its re-growth whilst forming a therapeutic layer around the tooth to repair painful sensitivity and prevent future cause of sensitivity.
Brush for two minutes, twice a day and floss regularly, paying special attention to your back teeth which are likely to have more plaque on them because they are harder to reach.
Question: Why do you recommend power brushing?
Professor Matthew Hopcraft: I'm an advocate of the Oral-B power toothbrushes as they use oscillating-rotating brush head technology, which surround each tooth to gently remove plaque between each tooth and along the gum line. In fact – they remove 100% more plaque than regular manual toothbrushes. Try the new Oral-B GENIUS which features groundbreaking Position Detection Technology that combines cutting-edge motion sensors located in the brush, and video recognition using a smartphone's camera. This breakthrough allows the Oral-B GENIUS to track areas being brushed and ensure no tooth, gum or dental zone gets missed. The new technology allows users to ensure they are properly cleaning for the dentist-recommended two minutes, applying the correct amount of pressure and brushing each individual tooth.
Interview by Brooke Hunter