5 Non-Obvious Tips From My Dentist

Illustration from the book All My Friends Are Dead

I’m ashamed to admit this but I was 26 years old the first time I went to the dentist as an adult in charge of my own health. I went to see about a toothache and discovered that I had 6 cavities and needed a root canal. Disaster! It took more than a decade of quarterly dentist appointments, a bone graft to prevent my gums from receding further, and diligent home care to get everything shipshape. The topic of charcoal as it pertains to teeth whitening recently came up in The What::Women, our private Fb group. So, I asked my dentist about teeth whiteners, and dental health in general, and here’s what she shared with me:

Sensodyne ProNamel Toothpaste

1. Use A Low Abrasion Toothpaste

Weakened enamel can set the stage for more serious dental problems. My dentist likes ProNamel by Sensodyne because it scores 37, placing it in the very low abrasion category on the Abrasion Index (toothbrush with plain water scores 4). Find out how your toothpaste ranks.

Choose an Extra Soft Toothbrush

2. Use An Extra Soft Toothbrush

It’s all about the motion of the brush and not the stiffness of the bristles to clean your teeth properly. I’ve always used a soft brush but there are even softer heads on the market that will go easy on your enamel.

Why your La Croix addiction might be bad for you

3. Sparkling Water In Moderation

It may be sugar- and calorie-free but the pH level of sparkling water creates a chemical reaction in your mouth turning the CO2 into carbonic acid, which erodes enamel. Add a lemon or lime to that and you make it even more acidic. I love sparkling water and used to drink it like tap water, sometimes five times a day. I’m not going to eliminate it from my diet but I will definitely cut down.

Cocofloss is textured, thicker, and coated with coconut oil

4. A Better Way To Floss

My dentist likes Cocofloss because it’s infused with coconut oil, a little wider than average floss, and is textured to gently scrub between your teeth. I just started using it and will let you know how it goes in a later post. However, if you have tight contacts between teeth or crowding, the thickness of this floss may not be right for you. The Gum Butler, a rubber tipped stimulator will also up your gum game. Trace along the gum line both front and back to dislodge particles and to stop a line of plaque from forming under your gums.

The jury is out on charcoal

5. Teeth Whitening

Seems like every beauty blogger on the planet has tried charcoal toothpaste and posted compelling before-and-afters. I asked my own dentist, did some research on dental sites, and came to the conclusion that the jury is still out. There’s no science to back up the safety of this practice and charcoal has not been tested on the abrasive index nor has it received FDA approval. For over-the-counter teeth whitening my dentist said that Crest White Strips work perfectly well and that the peroxide, as long as you’re not allergic to it, is relatively safe. However, the whitening results are not permanent so you’ll have to maintain a consistent practice.

Crest White Strips for at-home whitening

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