How to take better care of your teeth: tips from a dentist

Instead of joining and quitting another gym in the new year, it might be worth focussing on another aspect of your health instead: how to take care of your teeth. We spoke to a dentist about how to take care of your teeth so they take care of you.

Dr Rick Iskandar

We spoke to Principal Dentist at Tailored Teeth and Philips Sonicare Ambassador, Dr Rick Iskandar about how to take care of your teeth.

How often should we be brushing our teeth?

Starting off nice and easy here – we should be brushing all surfaces of each of our teeth twice a day, every day. Brushing and flossing do the same thing – they remove plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that can cause decay and gum disease.

Brushing removes it from the top, inside and outside surfaces of the teeth, and flossing (which you only have to do once a day, yay!) removes plaque from the surfaces in between each of the teeth.

This simple daily habit prevents problems such as tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to pain and tooth loss.

What’s the best way to prevent coffee stains?

The tried-and-true activities of brushing and flossing your teeth every day, should not be underestimated for stain prevention.

If you’ve already got these basics down, there are some other effective ways to prevent coffee stains – firstly, rinse with water immediately after you have finished your coffee to prevent the coloured particles in coffee, called chromogens, from sticking to your teeth in the first place.

Secondly, use a powerful yet soft and gentle toothbrush, the Philips DiamondClean 9000 in the Sonicare range is the best toothbrush I have come across for preventing stains from building up in between professional cleans as it has been proven to remove 10x more plaque and up to 100% more stains than a manual toothbrush. 

How often should we visit the dentist?

You should be visiting your dentist at least twice a year for a routine check-up and clean.

Every couple of years it’s a good idea to get your records, like x-rays, photos and 3D scans updated so your dental team can effectively track your dental health and treat you more preventatively.

Does teeth whitening weaken your teeth?

This is a common misconception because there are unfortunately a lot of knock-off whitening products and services, and generally bad advice flooding the market right now.

A quality whitening product, combined with professional advice to ensure your teeth are suitable for whitening, and using a proper, proven technique are essential for whitening to be completed safely and without weakening the teeth.

In fact, when completed as part of a holistic treatment, whitening can actually improve the health of your mouth and teeth. 

Do the home teeth-whitening kits work?

Teeth whitening treatments work based on two things: the amount of active ingredient in the whitening gel, and the time it is left on the teeth. Only a dentist can get your teeth to their whitest in a safe way.

In fact, the highest concentration of whitening gel that can legally be used outside the supervision of a licenced dentist is less than a quarter of what is used for one of the most effective whitening treatments available, Philips Zoom! in-chair whitening. Using this proven product and technique, your dentist can safely get your teeth to their whitest in a one-hour treatment.

Is charcoal toothpaste more beneficial than normal toothpaste?

Charcoal is a tricky one. As it is such a new product in oral hygiene, there are no long-term studies on how it affects the teeth.

However, as charcoal is quite abrasive, it can potentially cause damage to your enamel. In my experience, the difference that charcoal makes as an active ingredient is negligible and if patients are interested in stain removal, they are better off investing in a good toothbrush like the Philips Sonicare range I mentioned earlier.

If someone hasn’t been to the dentist in a while, how can they get back on the horse?

I find one of the biggest barriers to getting back into regularly attending your dentist is the fear of being judged or the fear of receiving bad news. As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Dentists will not judge you for your teeth, we have seen it all before and while I can’t promise you won’t get a lecture on flossing or brushing more, usually this is simply the reinforcement you need to get back on track. As for fear of bad news, the best time to see your dentist was six months after your last visit, the second-best time is right now.

Dental problems do not go away by themselves so if you really want to get back on that horse, see your dentist for a check-up and come up with a plan to improve your dental health. 

What’s the best way to tackle bad breath throughout the day?

A healthy, clean, hydrated mouth does not produce bad breath. Bad breath is usually an indication that something is wrong.

The most common causes are heavy build-up (called calculus) on or below the gumline, gum disease, decay in the teeth or chronic dehydration.

Bad breath, even in the absence of dental pain, is usually an indication that you need to see your dentist as there is something wrong. 

If you are brushing twice daily (properly that is), flossing daily, eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, seeing your dentist for regular check-ups and professional cleaning, your breath should smell fresh all day long!

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If you need to start flossing more than you already do, we’ve reviewed the Philips Sonicare Airfloss range so you can get started.

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