How to maintain solid dental health

Written on March 29, 2020
Categories: life

Disclaimer: By no means, I am a dental or a medical professional. What I’m providing here is simply my take on how to maintain and improve your dental health. When in doubt, you should always trust your dentist’s opinion and not mine.

Alright, with that out of the way, welcome back to my blog! Today, I’d like to share how I drastically improved my dental health over the years and what worked for me in the past ~20 years. First some background.

When I was a kid, I loved all sorts of candies: gummibears, haribos, m&ms, sour patches and ice-cream. I always said yes to all of it and I was never satisfied. Ironically, I now hate sugar.

Anyways back then I hated brushing my teeth. I would always postpone it and ignore my parents’ instructions. Granted, they also did not care that much, at least not as much as they did about my studies. I always had crooked teeth and while all my friends were getting braces, I was so afraid of going to the dentist so the topic of braces never really came up at home.

I definitely hated going to the dentist, especially when I had to go in for fillings. Maybe, it was my dentist, or my overall fear of dental operations, but my gums, nerves, and teeth always hurt..

It was when I had to undergo a root canal operation in my teenage years that I finally decided to take control of my dental health. Since then, not only I’ve been maintaining a good dental health but it also kind of improved (apart from the crookedness of my teeth). Here’s how I tackled it.

  1. First things first, you need to commit to going to dentist regularly. If you ever suffered from a lack of attention to your dental health during your childhood, I’d recommend going to the dentist every 3 months or 4 months. You don’t have the luxury of visiting the dentist twice a year at this point like other people do.
  2. Work with your dentist to get a 3D scan of your entire mouth. First step is the mitigation. We need to stop anything that’s impacting your dental health right now and to do that we need to locate the teeth that are having trouble/decaying etc.
  3. Once you detected with your dentist what teeth need filling, or worse, crowns, make appointments asap. Spread them out over a period of a year and get them all fixed. Hopefully, none are too bad that requires you to have root canal operation.
  4. Assuming your first appointment was a cleaning appointment, I recommend learning how to floss during the appointment. You might think you know how to do it but so many people get this wrong. Knowing how to do this right will come in handy.
  5. Bimonthly visit is a seperate visit than your dental operations (fillings, crowns etc.). Those are used for cleaning only and it’s not comparable to the cleaning we do at home. Schedule these cleaning appts separately.

Now that you scheduled your appointments and your dentist is involved and made a plan for you to get your teeth fixed, it’s time for you to TAKE ACTION AT HOME. You need to get this part right or else you are going to spiral back into the state you started at.

I highly recommend you to invest in the following:

  1. Electric toothbrush: This will help you brush your teeth consistently and for an absolute minimum of 2 minutes. You can set different pressure settings and adjust other finer details. Some advanced ones even come with an app that shows you in 3D which teeth got brushed. That’s a little extra but it’s a one time purchase. Well worth it. You have to obviously replace the head every 2-3 months but other than that, it’s going to help you immensely. Mine is this Philips Sonicare
  2. Quality toothpaste: I’m no expert here but my research and dentist approves any Sensodyne brand or if you want a bit of whitening then go with Crest Charcoal 3D White Toothpaste
  3. Quality floss: I had trouble with this for a long time but I finally found one brand that works for me. I can’t floss with the regular floss but with floss picks it’s so easy. Like there’s no more excuse - they are so easy to use. Go with Oral-B Glide Mint Floss Picks. They even taste good and because they have a plastic handle you will be able to easily glide them in betwen your teeth.
  4. Normal mouthwash: I didn’t call this quality because I’m not sure if Listerine is a quality brand given that there are so many organic options at Whole Foods and that they don’t even sell Listerine but for me this is the one that works. I like the burning sensation in my mouth shrugs

As to frequency of doing the above four, I recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day during the week (morning and evening) but recommend people with pooerer dental health to go for 3 if they can. Basically, after each meal. You can do that on the weekends. Do it for 2 minutes. Thoroughly brush inside and outside of your teeth. Get all the edges and corners. Have patience, set a damn timer. Use that app that comes with your electric toothbrush, do something and do it for at least 2 minutes. Flossing is also a must at least once a day! The more you do it the better. This is not open for debate. Flossing is necessary; brushes simply don’t get everything. No whining, yes flossing. There’s no debate. Same with mouthwash. I mean, how can you not like this? Your mouth will smell great. Do it often.

Assuming you got the essential tools above, here’s my suggestions for the power users, or people who really want to boost their dental health.

  1. Interdental brushes: This is not something I’ve seen in the US. I found it with mum in the UK. These brushes work in tandem with floss to clean the small food particles out from tighter spots between your teeth. You’d think floss would get everything out but nope! Once you go with these, you’ll never be able to go back. My dentist said you can’t give up regular floss even if you use these but they said this is a great idea for perfect cleaning. This also helps your gums. Grab them from Amazon. I use Size 0 so it gets in-between the tightest spots.
  2. Crest 3D Whitestrips: These are whitening strips you attach to your teeth. I’d never thought they would work but they really do. You just have to wear one per day and in 30 days, there’s definitely a change. Don’t expect significant results but I know you’ll be happy about it if you are not satisfied with how white your teeth are. In addition to the 30 strips, they give you 1 hour express ones which are supposed to improve the whiteness quickly for 2 days but not sure if that really works. Anyways, this one’s cosmetic so it’s optional.

The order in which I do these things are:

  1. Interdental brushes
  2. Floss picks
  3. Brushing
  4. Mouthwash

I did consider the invisible braces as well called invisalign for fixing my crooked teeth but then realized I may not be able to keep up with its requirements at this stage. For me, it also wasn’t that worth it given how comfortable I’m with my somewhat crooked teeth. I don’t really mind them and think it’s part of my appearance now lol. Obviously, if I had a magic wand, I’d fix them but it’s really a personal choice, so if you have crooked teeth, see if you can abide by Invisalign rules before signing up. My dentist is super honest about these things and she said that if I got the invisalign braces, it would be lead to minimal improvement assuming I wear them 99% of the time. It’s really diminishing returns for me.

Besides these, follow your dentist’s advice for the most part. I know that some dentists really care about profits and would push for every single filling and operation but you’d have to just try out a few in your proximity. Try to see if they are reasonable in what they suggest and always get a second opinion.

Happy brushing!