At 13, I needed braces; a lifetime of sucking my thumb had pushed my front two teeth out and ruined my bite. One sunny spring day I was marched along Harley Street by my mother to a fancy orthodontist to correct the overbite. What ensued left me with a terrific fear of dental work. First, said orthodontist promptly stuck a mould in my mouth and left it to dry while he LEFT THE ROOM. The mould was overfilled and the funny rubbery, cementy mix oozed over the top and into my mouth. I felt like I was choking. My gag reflex did its thing. I tried to yank it out, convulsing in my chair like a zombie in a horror film. Reader, I wasn’t sick, but I might as well have been – the incident was indelibly etched in my memory and I have since associated time in the dental chair with gagging which, as an emetophobe, isn’t exactly a joyous association.
I’ve therefore strategised to reduce the possibility of needing ‘real’* dental work by taking enormously good care of my teeth and doing all the things you’re meant to do. Herein lies the difficulty with that approach: everyone says something different, with trends also playing their part in confusing me. Over the years I’ve used interdental brushes once daily, then not at all, swilled mouthwash diligently, then eschewed it on the recommendation of a dentist who said the alcohol content shrivelled gums, bought an absurdly expensive rubber toothbrush (gentler, apparently), and made every part of this routine organic in an especially zealous phase of eliminating chemicals.
Last month at a press event for Regenerate, I decided enough was enough so got some proper advice on caring for teeth from top dentist and Regenerate Dental Brand Ambassador Dr. Adam Thorne. Here’s what he had to say //
On How To Care For Teeth / ‘You need to brush your teeth twice daily with an electric tooth brush for at least two minutes, making sure you clean around the gum margin of the teeth. Do so with a fluoride toothpaste but don’t rinse afterwards. Also, floss or clean between teeth once daily. Make sure you never brush your teeth for 45 minutes after you’ve eaten anything acidic! In terms of visits to the dentist, you need to see one yearly for a full examination with bi-annual visits to the hygienist for a proper clean.’
On Brands / ‘For floss, one that doesn’t shred easily is best – try teflon-based Oral B Glide. Major brand toothpastes are usually trustworthy, but Regenerate goes a step further by restoring the mineral contact and micro-hardness of enamel, thus helping to regenerate it. I recommend using the toothbrush twice daily and the serum treatment for three minutes in the trays for three consecutive nights monthly.
Fluoride-based, alcohol-free mouthwashes are best – I tend to recommend Colgate Fluorigard. Specialist mouthwashes like Corsodyl and Peroxyl are also good, but speak to your dentist to check if you need them before buying.’
On The Mistakes People Make When Caring For Teeth / ‘Two spring to mind: brushing for less than the recommended two minutes and trying to multi-task when toothbrushing – you have to focus on the job at hand!’
On Regenerate / ‘Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, is responsible for the appearance of teeth and it has to last a lifetime. Its job is primarily to protect the soft, sensitive core of the tooth from acid erosion and decay. It owes its considerable strength (it is half as scratch-resistant as a diamond!) to high mineral content, but once it’s eroded away the body cannot restore it.
Regenerate’s toothpaste and serum help to reverse the erosion of enamel by delivering a combination of calcium silicate and sodium phosphate, which help to form a fresh supply of hydroxyapatite that integrates into the enamel – it’s the first and only dental care system on the market that’s proven to form hydroxyapatite with identical composition to underlying enamel mineral.’
On Diets / ‘Ideally, eat a diet low in sugar and refined carbohydrates, avoiding snacking between meals. Acidic drinks (including sparkling water) should also be avoided between meals.
Good for teeth:
– Yoghurt of the no added sugar variety
– Leafy greens
Bad for teeth:
– Sweets, chocolates, biscuits, crisps
– Sugary drinks including sports drinks
– Sticky foods such as dried fruit
– Acidic drinks – especially juices and carbonated drinks.’
On Whitening / ‘Provided your teeth and gums are healthy (without cavities, excessive tooth wear or broken fillings), whitening is safe. Over-the-counter products aren’t very effective – instead, see a cosmetic dentist, who can recommend the best treatment for you. Never buy anything from a non-dentist (such as a beautician) or off the internet!’
* I classify anything requiring longer than the standard half hour check up session to fall into this category.