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Jocelyn Hsu / Spoon

How To Properly Take Care Of Your Teeth: A Refresher

We are constantly talking about skincare and healthcare, but we rarely seem to talk about our teeth. Toothcare is taught when you are young, but it often becomes overlooked the older you get. When we talk about our teeth, we discuss products that whiten them but never great ways to care for them or the best products for optimal care.

The modern toothpaste and toothbrush were created in 1945 and 1950, respectively. But the methods used to brush our teeth have been around for centuries. It is important to take care of our teeth because a good set of teeth is important for eating, comfort and confidence. I interviewed a hygienist with 28 years of experience to find the best ways to care for teeth to ensure longevity and a healthy look. Here is what she had to say:

What is the most common tooth issue?

I’d say tooth decay or periodontal disease. Both can happen by not properly taking care of your teeth. Making sure to eat a proper diet and maintain a good oral hygiene routine at home can help to prevent decay. And the same is true for periodontal disease. When you let things go for too long, gingivitis or bleeding gums can easily turn into periodontal disease which is loss of bone support around your teeth.

What toothpaste is considered the “best”?

It is recommended to use fluoridated toothpaste twice daily. Any brand that is ADA approved is fine to use. Sometimes it’s more of a personal preference for the flavor or taste of the toothpaste. There are multiple brands for specific issues one may have, such as gingivitis, sensitive teeth, etc. I’ve grown up on Crest, so I prefer that brand.

Are electric toothbrushes really better than manual ones?

Yes! When used as directed, electric toothbrushes have been proven to help improve an individual’s oral health. Any brand that has a two-minute timer can be effective. The motion of the bristles on the brush head can help do a more effective job of getting into the gum line. There are multiple brands to choose from. Of course, make sure there’s a timer to it and that you like the shape and size of the toothbrush head itself.

What are the best mouthwash brands?

Antiseptic mouthwashes are the most effective rinses to use. Currently, our office uses Colgate Peroxyl as a pre-procedural mouth rinse because it has a 1.5% hydrogen peroxide which is thought to aid in the reduction of the COVID-19 bacteria.

What can damage your teeth?

Any foods or drinks that are acidic can cause tooth damage. Also, using your teeth to open objects such as bags or containers and grinding or clenching your teeth are detrimental.

Is whitening your teeth healthy for them? If so, what do you recommend?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a whiter smile to build confidence and help make you want to smile more! In-office treatment systems, as well as take-home systems, are very effective. Prices vary depending on the system you choose.

There are many products sold over the counter, but I’d recommend a product that is ADA approved. There’s a wide variety of products such as mouthwashes or toothpaste, tray systems or bleaching strips, to name a few. Some common side effects can be sensitivity to the teeth while using the product. Sensitivity will typically go away within 24 hours of discontinuing the product. It’s just due to the active ingredient of the bleach itself.

Be careful of bleaching gimmicks. You can’t expect brushing for 2 minutes to whiten your teeth effectively. Bleaching takes some time to achieve the results you want. Our office currently uses an in-office system where the bulk of the bleaching is done by applying a protective agent onto the gums and then applying the bleaching agent to the teeth.

We also make a custom-made mouthguard that fits directly over the teeth and is cut away from the gums so that minimal bleach will get onto the gums and cause burning. We also have a take-home system called Opalescence Go which is a prefilled bleaching tray, and both seem to have very nice results. We recommend Crest Whitestrips if you are looking for a product sold over the counter.

Popular teeth whitening trends have indicated just using baking soda to help whiten teeth, is this safe to do?

People used to use baking soda as toothpaste and still do to help whiten their teeth. I feel it’s more of a way to help remove surface staining from the teeth as opposed to actually penetrating the tooth surface and truly whitening the teeth from the inside out.

What is the best routine for cleaning your teeth?

You should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day. It is also recommended to have a professional cleaning and exam every six months.

Taking care of your teeth is important and should not be something easily overlooked in your daily routine. Happy brushing!

Sydney is a sophomore at Penn State University majoring in Telecommunications with a minor in Information Sciences and Technology. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes, sports, and discovering new places to visit.
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