How To Keep Your Smile Healthy

I was recently chatting to a friend of mine about what we first notice when we meet someone new.

And whether it be in a dating situation, a job interview or just meeting a friend of the friend for the very first time, we both agreed – it was an individuals teeth and smile that our attention is drawn to first.

Now I do appreciate this may seem strange to some of you. But bare with me, because I do think you can tell a lot about a person from their teeth and how frequently they show them – either through smiling or laughter.

Let’s look at it this way, when you feel like you’ve got something stuck in your teeth or if you’re conscious about smiling in pictures, it can make you curl into your shell a little bit. When a person feels confident about their teeth, they can be more animated, more open and more confident.

I’ve always been fairly confident about my teeth but I do remember in the year and a half period where I had braces, I was a little bit more reserved as a whole about how I would come across when meeting others.

Of course, I knew it was only temporary but I always was aware of that mouth full of metal whenever I was in a situation where I had to speak in front of people or pose for a photograph.

And so I suppose I thought that dedicating a whole feature to teeth and how to maintain a healthy smile was an important thing to do, because it’s perhaps a little overshadowed sometimes.

Sure, teeth whitening (and the various sprays, toothpastes, strips and gels you can use) takes precedent in the beauty world, but the overall health and wellbeing of your teeth, isn’t always considered.

And admittedly, this may be because we’re all a teeny bit afraid of the dentist (me included). There’s nothing I dread more than stepping into the clinically white walls of my dentist office, knowing the treats that are in store for me, waiting for your appointment all the while listening to the whirring, whizzing, screeching sounds of the drills.

Sorry, I’m not particularly selling it to you, am I?

I’d put off visiting for a good eighteen months until I finally booked an appointment early last month. It was well overdue and while I’d kind of had an excuse ready (we moved areas and I forgot to register somewhere local), I knew that I’d potentially jeopardised my teeth and gums health by leaving it for so long.

But luckily, our new dentist was more than understanding and she didn’t make me feel like a naughty child when I admitted I didn’t floss everyday and ate sugar more than once a week.

Is it just me but does panic automatically set in when the words:

“Do you floss everyday?” 

Are uttered.

Nope, just me then?

Anyway, to cut a rather long story short – my most recent trip was so eye-opening and far more pleasant because I left armed with a wealth of new knowledge all about my dental health and how I could ensure that I keep my teeth as healthy as possible.

Because, as I was rightly reminded – we only get one set after all! 

So, to celebrate my new found dental knowledge and also to highlight the importance of keeping your smile not only white and bright – but healthy – I thought I’d pop everything into one big post, and invite you to share your tips too!

Grab yourself a beverage (though preferably not coffee – think of the staining), a biscuit (shhh – I won’t tell if you don’t) and a comfy seat.

Let’s chat all things dental health… 

Floss (or not…)

Now as mentioned, whenever the dreaded floss word was mentioned, I’d subconsciously pull a face and brace myself for the telling off. Faffing about with bits of sticky string and then trying to manoeuvre them around my mouth seemed like far too much hard work to do every day.

And I figured how many people were really and truly totally honest with their answers when the dentist asked them this?

But writing it off completely hasn’t done me any favours, because it meant sitting in a hygienist’s chair for almost 40 minutes which she scraped, scratched, blasted, zapped and hoovered my mouth in a bid to clear the plague from in between my teeth.

It also means that because plague hasn’t properly been cleaned out, it’s therefore hardened and caused decay.

Plaque is a sticky substance made of bacteria. If it builds up, the bacteria can irritate the gums and cause inflammation.

I’m currently booked in for three seperate fillings.

Whose winning at life you cry?

Me, that’s who. Hmmm. 

Anyway, so my wake-up call was much needed and as soon as I left the dentist’s office, I headed straight over to the shop to ask for some advice on flossing. Was I really going to have to buy another reel of floss, or was there anything else I could try?

And as it happens, there was. And it was in the form of something I’d previously used when I had braces aged 14.

Interdental brushes sound rather scary and technical, but they are marvellous tools that are so much easier and fuss-free than fiddling about with floss.

Toothbrushing only cleans 60% of the teeth, so something complimentary is needed to get to that hidden 40%!

Essentially they are a small brush specially designed for cleaning between your teeth, where a regular toothbrush does not reach.

I used to use them when I had train-tracks, because when you ate certain things (chicken I’m looking at you), the aftermath would be a tangled mess of food and metal. Super glamorous!

Brushes that go in between your teeth can seem a bit daunting however TePe Interdental Brushes offers a wide variety of sizes and shapes to suit even the teeniest of gaps. I’d advise buying a mix variety pack in the first instance to try out a few different brushes and then you’ll find your perfect one!

Most people require different sizes in order to clean your entire mouth anyway (some gaps are bigger than others) and so for optimal cleaning, it’s worth trialling the different colour coded brushes (try the smallest size first and don’t force it in – it should fit in easily) to narrow down which ones you’ll need.

In all honesty, these have changed the game for me when it comes to that completely fresh, clean feeling – and I feel reassured in the knowledge that I’ve efficiently removed all the plague not only superficially, but also in between my teeth too – where it really matters!

Regular use of an interdental brush efficiently removes plague and helps prevent the development of gum disease and cavities, so the benefits definitely outweigh the minute or so you spend using them!

The flexible and manoeuvrable shape means that you can reach teeth even at the very back (bonus for me, as my wisdom teeth are practically on the sides of my jaw they’re so tricky to reach) and the plastic coated wire means that cleaning is super gentle.

An alternate to interdental brushes is also offered by TePe, in the form of EasyPick™, which are essentially silicone toothpicks with little ribbed edges, for a super soft, easy and quick way to clean in between your teeth.

Surpassing floss in every aspect, these little devices feature a non-slip grip handle, which means that they’re super easy to hold and use – with a gentle coating and flexible neck, for all those hard to reach areas.

Interdental brushing is complimentary rather than an alternative. So perhaps when you are out and about, you can put a travel pack of the EasyPick into your make up bag, thus helping you to build a habit for taking care of your oral health!


“Toothbrushing only cleans 60% of the teeth, so something extra is needed to get to that hidden 40%”




Toothbrush

Rather naively, I’d always written off electric toothbrushes as a ‘fad’. I was under the impression that we’d used manual toothbrushes for decades. Why fix something that isn’t broken, eh?

However when my hygienist pointed out that it would take 20 minutes of brushing with a manual to equal 2 minutes with an electric toothbrush, I needed no further persuasion to invest.

Apparently I’d been brushing too hard in a bid to over-compensate (and convince myself I was cleaning properly) and this was doing damage to my gums. Luckily it’s early days and there’s no drastic harm just yet, but if I carried on going the way I was going, I’d risk pushing my gums over the enamel and leave them much more vulnerable.

And then things turned from bad, to a little bit better, because I’d had a concern about a dark mark on the top of one of my front teeth. It looked like darkened enamel and I feared I’d permanently stained it.

However, in actuality, I actually have a natural chip in the top of my enamel (where the gum meets the tooth) and therefore food and dirt had been getting into the chip and giving it a marked appearance.

She cleaned it out, insisted I buy an electric toothbrush to keep everything as clean as possible and away I went.

I didn’t think I’d ever get that excited over a toothbrush but since I introduced an electric one into the bathroom family, my mouth has never felt better.

And I feel like one of those silly smiley adverts saying that, but honestly – I used to wake up with disgusting, stale breath. Honestly some mornings it was like something had crawled in, died and then started to decompose. My poor boyfriend.

They probably would say THAT on an advert, but it’s totally true. And since starting my new ‘mouth-care regime’ (more of which you’ll find out about below), I feel like a new woman who can wake up and jump out of bed without risking severe injury to anyone in the immediate proximity!

Now that’s worth celebrating! Pass me that red wine!

I’d definitely recommending getting yourself a snazzy, buzzy toothbrush if you haven’t already (I appreciate I’m VERY late to the bandwagon here), because they are fabulous!

And you don’t need to spend £££ either, Boots do a variety of really affordable ones. I think mine was £69 down from £99.

Bargain!

Mouthwash

Another thing my dentist recommended me using is a daily fluoride mouthwash to boost my enamel and help keep me free from plague! I have found that using this after lunch means that I don’t have to suffer the horrible ‘just eaten’ breath for the rest of the afternoon – and it’s such a refreshing pick-me-up!

Picking a mouthwash that is right for you can be a bit of a minefield (admittedly, I tend to go for the ones with the prettiest packaging) but it’s worth understanding what you need it for and then doing a bit of research.

Antibacterial mouthwashes are the most effective in fighting gum disease, gingivitis, plaque, and bad breath. They are able to reduce bacteria counts in the mouth and they often contain high percentages of alcohol and have quite a strong taste.

If you or your dentist are concerned about tooth decay, try and opt for one with fluoride, as such Anticavity rinses have been proven to fight up to 50% more of the bacteria that cause cavities! Bonus!

Whitening

As I’ve mentioned many times before on my blog, I’m a little bit of a teeth whitening obsessive and I can hand-on-heart say that I’ve tried pretty much even product and service on the market which claims to offer gleaming, bright white teeth.

In a bid to achieve that perfect Hollywood smile, I’ve spent thousands of pounds so that you don’t have to – and I can safely say that only a few things really work.

I suppose it depends what you’re after – but for me, it was the ability to boost the whiteness as much as possible. I wanted a blindingly white smile that sparkled in person and in photographs.

I’d say that the only thing that I’d truly re-invest in was the in-chair whitening experiences which incorporated a blue light laser into the process. I’ve previously had just the gel whitening dentist treatment and I left with no immediate difference, so it is worth looking out for a treatment with ‘ZOOM’ in the name, as this means the blue light is woven in!

I’ve written more of a lengthy review of my latest experience with this in-chair treatment here, but essentially, I’d recommend SW1 Dental in London for their service, result and the snazzy DVD goggles that you can wear to pass the 2 hours it takes for the treatment to finish. The whole negative vibe of sitting in a dentist’s chair is immediately dissolved when you’re watching The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Jude Law.

Saying that however, whitening toothpaste is great for maintaining and brightening your smile, while also removing any stains. I wouldn’t say it creates that ‘few shades whiter’ look that we often go for, because even prolonged use doesn’t achieve this, but it does make a difference to the radiance and brightness of your smile – so it’s worth getting a good one and sticking with it!

In summary though, regardless of what you choose to do – always consult your dentist and make sure any in-chair treatments are being conducted somewhere which has other knowledge of teeth-care. I’d steer clear of teeth whitening services from beauty salons or hair salons, because you just cannot be certain that they’re experienced with mouth-health. And for the sake of your teeth, save up a little extra and go somewhere with a great reputation that you and others trust!

“Make a smile your signature accessory”

Do you have any tips for keeping your smile healthy – or is there anything you could recommend that works for you?


This is a paid for advertorial in collaboration with TePe, however all words are entirely my own.


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