Dental Advice from a Retired Dentist
Dental advice may not be the most sexy topic out there, but some tips can make a huge difference. While I haven’t been practicing dentistry for the last 6 years, it’s funny how people respect my thoughts almost more knowing I’m not making a profit from it.
Quote of the day: “Every tooth in a man’s head is more valuable than a diamond.” Miguel de Cervantes
Of course you tend to value something more when you either don’t have it or you want it. So for those of you who have some dental struggles, or just want to learn more, read on. Obviously the bird above needs some of my coaching!
Dental Advice on Electric Toothbrushes
The most popular question I get is if an electric toothbrush is worth the cost.
And my reply? Yes and no. It sorta depends on which brush you buy, and two, it absolutely depends on how you use it.
My ideal electric toothbrush has three things:
1– I always advise to get the round brush heads. Why would you want the same shape as your normal toothbrush? You want something better that works how the dental polisher works.
Let me break it down for you. Teeth are NOT flat. Don’t believe me? Put your finger on one. Feel how it’s contoured? Now you need something that is going to brush the entire surface. And it’ll be much easier with a smaller round brush than a large flat one. BUT you also have to remember to move the brush in an arc motion over the tooth. Remember the tooth isn’t flat, so if you “brush” it straight over the teeth, you miss a ton of areas.
2– I’m pretty sure all electric toothbrushes have a timer now, but this is huge! Two minutes is a long time and without a timer, it just doesn’t happen.
3– The last feature that is fabulous is a pressure sensor. I bet the majority of us (me included at times) brush too hard. Sure, the enamel on your teeth is the hardest element in the body, but your gums aren’t. And if you think your brush isn’t touching your gums, then you’re doing something wrong.
YES, you need one of these. With newer advances on figuring out about the bacteria in our mouth and how they compound together, this is the best device to have.
Better than an electric toothbrush? Yep! Electric toothbrushes get all the glory and sure, they are wonderful. But if you had to choose one, I’d recommend the waterpik.
My preference is the cordless variety so you can use it in the shower. It’s easy and less messy that way.
An expert tip? Use warm water!! Cold water is way too cold. The only complaint I have about waterpiks is they don’t last super long. I would say the usual is a year. If you get more time out of yours, then consider yourself lucky. Either that or you’re not using it, ha ha!
Toothpaste has gotten a reputation for being the magic potion. And it can help and make our tooth brushing experience nicer. But it’s not the end all. Seriously, you can do as good a job without ANY toothpaste. Yet I know most everyone uses it, so here are my tips.
First let’s talk amount of toothpaste. The photo above? That’s WAY TOO MUCH toothpaste. Sure, that’s what every commercial shows (because duh, they are trying to sell you toothpaste). But a dab will do ya. Unless you like to look like a rabid dog. Try just dipping your toothbrush tip into the toothpaste tube. That little bit is all you need. There is an exception below.
Now the first swipe into your mouth with your toothpaste is important. Think about it. Do you always start in the same place? Because this is when your toothpaste is more concentrated before it gets spread out and diluted with your saliva. So switch it up. AND concentrate on the chewing surfaces first. You know? Like how a kid always brushes? Because the chewing surfaces have thicker enamel. If you mainly concentrate on the front of your teeth (which makes sense because you want them to be pretty), you’ll end up with more erosion and recession there.
And by this time in our life, we are habitual brushers. We’ve been doing it so long that we don’t think about it. My dental advice? Try your other hand when brushing your teeth. It will make you more aware of the details and it’s good for your brain.
Exception to the amount of toothpaste. If you have sensitive teeth and need sensitive toothpaste then you’d be better off dabbing a bit of the paste on the sensitive areas. And letting it sit there for a minute. Let it work it’s magic that way.
Finally, if you want the best benefit from your toothpaste then don’t rinse your mouth. Just spit and go. For example if you use your toothpaste for the fluoride benefit, then water washes it off and it’s not doing the work you need it to do. Or if you need the toothpaste for the sensitivity issue, again, you don’t want it rinsed off.
If you don’t use anything to clean in between your teeth, then you’re missing 40% of the surfaces of your teeth. That would be like taking a shower and only cleaning your lower half of your body. A little gross if you ask me.
Not that you have to use the true definition of floss. Nowadays there are a ton of different varieties of interdental brushes. These soft picks are my favorite.
Granted, if you waterpik every day, you might get away without using any other interdental cleaners. I happen to do both because I’m a little anal about my teeth. Even though I didn’t say the quote above, I couldn’t agree more.
Dental Advice on Whitening
I’ve blogged about teeth whitening before when I was reviewing Smile Brilliant’s products. I happen to like whitening with custom made trays. I’m not a huge fan of swallowing the product for many reasons. Whether you have the trays made by your dentist or from a service, this is definitely my preference.
However, the white strips do work too. I remember the first time I checked the drug store to see the selection and was overwhelmed with all of the options. Even I couldn’t tell a difference between the lower and higher cost ones.
As for whitening toothpaste or rinses, let’s talk about it. Our teeth get stained over the years because of the things we eat and drink. It takes years, right? So if you want obvious results of whitening your teeth in a short amount of time, then you need something that is going to sit on your teeth for longer than a millisecond. Sure, you can use the whitening toothpaste as a maintenance, but don’t expect to see a huge difference.
What else do you have questions about?? I’m happy to give dental advice on everything I know.
Photo credit: Rob Filogomo
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