The year is 2982. A group of archaeologists from Mars finds me cuddled up with my cat in my humble post-apocalyptic dwelling. In their report, they write that it’s not clear what this civilization was up to, but there’s no doubt that healthy teeth were a bit of a cult back at the beginning of the third millennium. This is very plausible because keeping your teeth healthy nowadays is so easy with all the available instruments.
In general, we would recommend the following:
- To take a good care of your teeth on a budget – buy a regular toothbrush with medium or soft bristles and learn how to use it correctly;
- If you want your cleaning routine to be more professional, buy an electric toothbrush;
- Use additional methods (flossing, mouthwash) to polish up your dental care;
- Follow a healthy diet with little to no sugary drinks and snacks.
If you want to know how we came to this conclusion, please read the following topics.
Why do I even need to clean my teeth?
As humans, we were not designed to live for more than 30 years, so all the mechanisms we have are not perfect. Our teeth are constantly covered with a thin layer of mouth bacteria. The tooth enamel is a very rigid material, but it’s very vulnerable to the acidic environment. Our food contains sugars, and the bacteria that inhabit the surface of the teeth decompose those sugars. One part of the process are the acids – they ruin the enamel and let the bacteria get deeper into the tooth tissue, where they proceed decomposing sugars. To keep your teeth healthy you need to remove this thin layer of bacteria and any food it could possibly feed on regularly.
How do I establish the best routine for taking care of my teeth?
The word “routine” may sound a little repelling, but the health of your teeth is all about regular care. You need to clean your teeth at least twice a day right after you eat. A proper use of a toothbrush can be enough for maintaining healthy teeth between your dental appointments. However, you need to use a good brush and to follow the correct technique.
How to choose a proper brush?
A good brush should fit in your mouth. You shouldn’t have any spots in your mouth you can’t reach. Most of the design tricks don’t matter a lot – the main thing is to get a new brush every time the bristles of your old one get frayed. If you have sensitive gums your dentist could advise you to use a soft-bristled brush, but for most people the medium brushes work just fine. Don’t buy brushes with natural bristles – they get inhabited by bacteria quickly.
The efficient cleaning technique
Learn to use your basic instrument.
So, in order to keep your teeth healthy and not spend a fortune you need to learn to use your toothbrush correctly and to swap it for a new one every two months.
Shall I switch to an electric toothbrush – is it more effective?
Every conventional and boring device can get better with a little pinch of hi-tech and electricity. Take a toothbrush, add a tiny engine and a battery and voila – a more efficient version of an everyday tool is ready.
An electric toothbrush removes more plaque than a regular brush, which is why many dentists recommend using them. But there are people who would get more benefits if they switch to an electric toothbrush – the ones who wear braces. It is advised that children should first learn to use the regular brushes.
What should I consider if I want to buy a perfect electric toothbrush?
Before you buy anything, make sure that the toothbrush you are looking at supports all of the manufacturer’s brush heads – this should be indicated on the packaging or in the product description section. There is a chance that the original brush head will not be convenient enough for you personally and that you will want to switch to a different type, so make sure they are interchangeable.
Motion types. The brush head can rotate in both directions, it could spin continuously, it could oscillate and pulse. Every additional type of motion adds up to the efficiency, but each of them provides a more thorough cleaning than a regular toothbrush. The vibrating motion is considered to be the most effective, and there are toothbrushes that let you switch between the modes.
Pressure sensors. If you have sensitive teeth you should use brush heads with soft bristles and shouldn’t apply too much pressure. A fancy pressure sensor feature would be useful in that case. If your teeth don’t react negatively to cold beverages, you may neglect this option completely.
Sonic toothbrushes are the most effective because in addition to mechanical cleaning they use the ultrasonic vibrations that get rid of even more plaque. If the package says “1000 oscillations per minute” – it should be enough.
As for the shape, usually a round head is considered to be an advantage as it works similarly to your dentist’s professional brush. The shape and size are a matter of preference as long as the brush is functional.
Just as with a regular toothbrush, the electric toothbrush brush head should be replaced every 2-3 months. Consider buying them in bulk so that it would be cheaper. The main thing here is to clean your teeth with a brush that doesn’t have worn bristles: if you are not ready to buy expensive original brush heads 6 times a year, choose a brush that has comparatively cheap yet functional heads available on the market.
Generally, aim for a electric toothbrush with a round head for the best results.
What marketing tricks should I avoid?
When the market is very competitive, manufacturers have to make up some ploy to trick you into buying their product. Some of them can be useless, some can even be harmful.
Timers. Some electric toothbrushes have an inbuilt timer that tracks the cleaning time and gives you a beep as soon as your time is up. Having a smartwatch on your wrist, a phone with multiple apps on the shelf and your inner sensation of time – yeah, sure, you definitely need to overpay for another beeping sound in your life. Can’t you just mumble a favorite song for tracking the time?
Bluetooth. An electric toothbrush with a Bluetooth will give you a feedback on how well you’ve cleaned your teeth this time. The device could also encourage you while you’re in the process, giving hints about what to do next. A tempting feature, but we don’t think it’s worth paying extra $50 or so.
Travel cases and charging stations. This totally depends on your lifestyle. If you don’t travel a lot, you won’t need travel case.
Whitening mode. Some brushes have a whitening mode. Before you decide to use it, please keep in mind that when you whiten your teeth you instantly make your enamel thinner. This makes your teeth more sensitive to cold and heat, and also more prone to cavities. And remember, you can end up with ridiculously white teeth like Ross Geller from “Friends” did – would you want that?
Do I need any other dental care products to maintain teeth health?
Mechanically removing most of the plaque could be quite enough for many people. But there are cases when additional measures won’t hurt.
How to define if you need dental floss
Each and every one of us is unique. The distance between teeth can differ greatly from person to person too. For those of us who have tight contacts between teeth, using a floss is a necessity. If you are not accustomed to using dental floss you should consult with your dentist first – there are gum conditions that require specific kinds of floss.
So follow the example of “Pretty Woman” and buy a dispenser of some nice mint scented dental floss.
When do I need a mouthwash?
Using mouthwash can be your additional dental care routine. Mouthwash contains an antiseptic liquid, that kills the decay-causing microorganisms in your mouth and thus helps to prevent cavities. Aim for a mouthwash that doesn’t list alcohol as its main ingredient, because it could cause additional sensitivity to your teeth. Make sure to keep it in your mouth for at least 30 seconds – otherwise it just won’t be effective. Fluoride as a component is a plus. Using mouthwash is especially convenient when you know that you wouldn’t have a chance to brush your teeth properly soon.
If you bake muffins from time to time, you probably have a few toothpicks on your kitchen counter. Their original purpose, as the name implies, is to keep your interdental space free of food particles. They are only effective if there is a space between your teeth large enough for a toothpick to get inside. In most cases you will need a dental floss for that purpose.
Chewing gums – any good?
They are often marketed as something that could help you keep your teeth clean throughout the day. Unfortunately, they only can clean the chewing surface. If you like the flavor, there’s no harm. Choose the brands that use artificial sweeteners like xylitol instead of sugar.
Is there a healthy diet for healthy teeth?
You need enough calcium in your diet to keep your teeth healthy. Having 2-3 servings of dairy foods per day is usually enough. If you’re lactose intolerant or a vegan, or can’t consume dairy for some other reasons – have a closer look at kale, greens, almonds, and calcium-fortified products. And don’t forget about vitamin D supplements.
It’s also a good idea to avoid sweet things that contain sugar, fructose, honey – all of these are a the perfect source of energy for mouth bacteria, who flourish on the teeth surface and build their humble civilization in plaque and cavities. If you can’t live without a piece of chocolate every once in a while – clean your teeth soon after that or use mouthwash.
Artificial sweeteners are often demonized, though there’s very little evidence they may be harmful. At the same time, research has shown that people who prefer soft drinks with sweeteners other than sugars have healthier teeth and have fewer incidents of cavities. The reason is quite simple – these sweeteners don’t feed the enamel ruining monsters that live on your teeth.
Another thing to consider is the color of your food. If you drink a lot of tea, coffee, cola, red wine, smoothies that contain beets or spinach you may get an unpleasant effect due to the natural colorings that they contain. Try to wash your mouth right after you’ve consumed any of them. Also, avoid eating any foods with colorings within three days after you’ve had a professional cleaning at your dentist’s.
In a nutshell: a regular healthy diet plan without junk food and refined sugars would be the best option.
Taking care of your teeth and keeping your mouth healthy is not a problem nowadays. Just choose a good brush, don’t forget to replace it with a new one regularly (or to replace the heads of your electric toothbrush) and – most importantly – use it correctly.