Looking After Your Teeth

You've only got one set of teeth and you want them to last as long as possible. You also want to minimise expensive visits to the dentist. Like doctors, dentists are best avoided unless there's no other alternative. I've done a bit of research and experimentation on this topic and here's what I've discovered.

Get the Right Equipment

Sometimes you have to go modern and teeth are one of those times. Manual toothbrushes have their place, but they're not sufficient to maintain good oral hygiene, especially if you have any dental problems such as periodontal pockets, retainers or braces. Here's what you'll need.

Waterpik Electric Toothbrush Toothbrush Tepe Brush Toothpaste Bicarbonate of Soda

My Routine

Here is the dental routine I follow most days. It's kept me out of the dentists office for a couple of years so far. Explanations for the various steps are provided in the notes below.

Morning
  1. After breakfast, swish mouth with water, then use tepe brushes to remove bits of food between the teeth. Use dental floss for teeth very close together if necessary. Rinse mouth with water.
  2. Rinse mouth with 1/4-1/3 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and some water [1],[2]. Swish in mouth for 3-5 minutes before spitting out. May also substitute for this step with a cup of green tea [3]. Do not rinse afterwards.
  3. After 30-60 minutes, brush teeth with Colgate Pro-Relief toothpaste with a soft-head manual brush using a light vertical up-down motion. Swish toothpaste around in mouth for 5-10 minutes before spitting out. Do not rinse afterwards or drink for at least 30 minutes.
Midday
  1. After lunch, repeat steps 1 and 2 above.
Evening
  1. After your evening meal, swish mouth with water, then use a Waterpik with warm water and pointed rubber nozzle to clean between teeth. Thoroughly clean any periodontal pockets and around retainers or braces.
  2. Before bed, dip a damp soft-head electric toothbrush [4] into bicarbonate of soda and with it switched off, brush lightly to dissolve the bicarbonate of soda on teeth and gums. Do this for about 20-30 seconds. Then turn on the brush and brush very lightly on all surfaces for 1-2 minutes maximum.

Notes

On Fluoride

  1. The ugly truth is that without fluoride, your teeth will become more fragile and more prone to cracking, splitting, chipping and breaking. At the same time, fluoride is a poison, so you don't want to ingest too much of it. I use a fluoride toothpaste once a day, primarily as a mouthwash to strengthen tooth enamel.

On Brushing Effectively

  1. A vertical up-down motion is much more effective than a circular or horizontal motion.
  2. Electric toothbrushes clean much more effectively than manual ones, especially at the rear [4].
  3. A waterpik waterflosser is the best tool to use to clean between teeth, in periodontal pockets and around braces/retainers. They are noisy and messy, but extremely effective.

On Reducing Enamel Wear

  1. Always use a toothbrush with a soft head, especially electric.
  2. Always brush lightly, never press hard.
  3. Don't brush immediately after eating as the enamel is softer then.
  4. Omit brushing at midday completely.
  5. Use the smallest tepe brushes (pink) to clean debris from between teeth. Forcing in larger brushes damages the enamel on your teeth and also tends to make the gaps bigger.
  6. Use a fluoride toothpaste at least once a day to help strengthen tooth enamel.

On Toothpastes

  1. Modern toothpastes don't clean very well, but they are the most readily available source of fluoride for your teeth. For cleaning, bicarbonate of soda is superior and has lower abrasivity once dissolved.
  2. The Pro-Argin technology in Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief toothpaste really does help to reduce the sensitivity of your teeth. I use the original basic formulation.

On Mouthwashes

  1. The fluoride concentration in commercial mouthwashes is approx 225ppm, whereas in a toothpaste it's around 1000-1500ppm. So, don't use a mouthwash after brushing as you're actually *reducing* the fluoride level in your mouth. It's far better to use a fluoride toothpaste as a mouthwash instead.
  2. Bicarbonate of soda is non-toxic [1], kills bacteria and neutralises acids [2], reducing any problems in deep pockets and making your teeth less sensitive. As a liquid, it's far more effective than any dental gel (which dentists are rather fond of prescribing).
  3. I tried Xylitol mouth rinses for a period of time, but it wasn't anywhere near as effective as bicarbonate of soda. It tastes great, but it's not nasty enough to kill the bacteria.
  4. Oil pulling with coconut oil does get food out from between your teeth and makes them whiter, but I believe its too dangerous to use regularly. Getting this oil into your lungs will cause you serious problems and it's very difficult not do so while swishing.

References

[1]Sodium Bicarbonate. OECD SIDS. CAS N°: 144-55-8.
[2]Antibacterial activity of baking soda. Drake D. Compend Contin Educ Dent Suppl. 1997;18(21):S17-21; quiz S46.
[3]Antimicrobial properties of green tea catechins. Peter W. Taylor,1 Jeremy M.T. Hamilton-Miller,2 and Paul D. Stapleton1. Food Sci Technol Bull. 2005; 2: 71–81.
[4]Powered versus manual toothbrushing for oral health (Review) Yaacob M, Worthington HV, Deacon SA, Deery C, Walmsley AD, Robinson PG, Glenny AM. The Cochrane Library 2014, Issue 6.