Q I would really love to get my teeth looking better for photos at a wedding this month, as well as having a fresh-feeling mouth? Do you have any suggestions?
A The key thing is to book in to see your dental hygienist as soon as possible. That should get rid of unsightly stains as well as blitzing the plaque and other build-up between and around your teeth. Top dentist Dr Uchenna Okoye advises you to ask about a ‘jet-wash’ clean, which uses bicarbonate of soda at high pressure to wash away stains.
Dr Okoye also suggests investing in an optimal performance electric toothbrush: ‘It is actually quite hard to brush teeth really thoroughly and most of us don’t spend enough time doing it well.’ Since she is the Smile Ambassador for Oral-B, it’s not surprising that she recommends that brand. But so do the independent experts at Which?, who gave the Oral-B Genius 9000 electric toothbrush a Best Buy with a rating of 83 per cent, currently £140 at boots.com.
‘Not only is the Genius inspired by the tools dentists use in their clinics, but there is lots of excellent built-in technology,’ Dr Okoye explains. ‘The Position Detection Technology works via an app on your phone to tell if you are missing any areas and it has a pressure sensor that tells you if you are pressing too hard.’
However, it’s a real investment. The current discounted price is around £140 and you might find even more special offers if you search. There are plenty of cheaper – although, of course, simpler – options including the Oral-B PRO 600 CrossAction electric toothbrush, which Sarah bought recently and is very happy with. You can find this at Superdrug for £49.99 currently.
Dr Okoye recommends choosing a toothpaste that contains stannous fluroride complex, which forms a protective shield on the enamel surfaces, making teeth more resistant to damage as well as the bacteria that cause both bad breath and plaque build-up. (Oral-B Pro-Expert Professional Protection toothpaste contains this fluoride complex, £3.50 for 75 ml.)
If however, you prefer not to use fluoride, we recommend trying the new Dr Bronner’s All-One Toothpaste, which has 70 per cent organic ingredients, and is fluoride-free, vegan and cruelty-free, with no artificial colours, flavouris, preservatives or sweeteners. In three flavours, peppermind, cinnamon and anise, £6.49, drbronner.co.uk.
You can also use simple home remedies to keep up the good work between visits to the dentist and hygienist. We know sugar does dreadful things to your teeth, as do acid-containing citrus fruit, vinegar and fruit teas. Many years ago, a dentist advised us to eat a small cube of cheese at the end of every meal to speed up the process of neutralising acid, which happens naturally with saliva but takes about two hours. He also suggested eating sweet things all in one go, rather than spread over hours: that way, the acid sits on the teeth for two hours (less if you have that little bit of cheese) rather than much longer. And if you are drinking fruit juice or anything else with acid in, use a straw.
Finally, strawberries, plums and pears contain xylitol, a compound that helps prevent bacteria sticking to teeth so enjoy! You can also use natural sweeteners containing xyllitol, which has been proven to help fight tooth decay, as an alternative to sugar.
Visual: Lesly B. Suarez/Unsplash