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It’s important to keep on top of your oral hygiene for more reasons than just fresh breath and a sparkling smile. As we’re already a month into 2021, we should all remember the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth.
Lisa Wat, a family dentist with 20+ years of dental experience, told Yahoo Lifestyle Canada that dental hygiene is extremely important because the health of your mouth is linked to the health of your heart, lungs, brain, and every system in your body.
“Without good home care, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease,” Wat says. “This can cause your immune system to weaken. And during COVID times, we want your immune system to be as healthy as possible and dental emergencies to be kept minimal.”
Wat, who has her own clinic called Bloor West Dentistry in Toronto, suggests that people should spend more time on their dental hygiene, so they don’t dread going to their dentist appointments.
“The more complete a job you can do at home, the less build-up you will have. When that is achieved, you will have fewer areas of gum inflammation, which are more sensitive when touched during the appointment,” she says. “I find that people who take care of their teeth a home regularly love coming to the dentist for their hygiene appointments. It is an enjoyable and relaxing time for them.”
Tips and tricks to stay on top of your oral hygiene
Wat adds that we should all brush our teeth for two minutes twice a day and floss twice a day. “It’s not that much time to commit each day to ensure you play your part to maintaining healthy teeth and gums,” she adds.
If you’re looking for some tips and tricks when it comes to your dental hygiene, Wat has a few.
“If you haven't gotten in the habit, then think of it like exercising. Initially, the muscles will ache, but if you persist, then they will get fitter and not be painful,” she says. “It's the same with flossing and brushing. Initially, there may be bleeding and discomfort, but with persistence, you will be rewarded with healthier teeth and gums which are not sensitive or bleed when you brush or floss.”
Wat, who has a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Western Ontario, says that you can also mentally psych yourself up for the great feeling you will have after you brush and floss.
“Imagine how that minty taste and massaged clean feel your gums and teeth will have after a floss. Families can make it a group effort where they brush together,” she suggests.
She also warns that when people delay their visits, they increase their risk of having dental problems.
“Just home care is not enough. Your dentist and dental team are here to help with their dental expertise so remember to schedule your next appointment,” she says.“Dental offices are open as your dental health is essential.”
Wat’s oral care product choices
We asked Wat to suggest a few products to help ensure you’re ready for your next dental appointment and ready to up your oral hygiene routine this year. Check out her picks — and reasoning — below.
Wat says that it’s really all about the basics when it comes to good dental hygiene, and that includes brushing and flossing well. She really likes electric toothbrushes and says that they help people do a better job of brushing the plaque away.
“A good and reasonably priced product is Oral-B Pro 100, which has all the basic features such as a two-minute timer,” she says.
The Oral-B Pro 100 has a 4.6-star rating on Amazon with over 23,000 reviews. One shopper called it a “great electric toothbrush,” adding, “Like the notification that the battery is getting low. Can then charge before it runs out.”
SHOP IT: Amazon, $75
Floss is a very important step to keeping your mouth clean. Wat suggests that one must use floss to help remove all the bacteria between the teeth that brushing can still miss.
“I love the classic mint waxed floss by J&J. It leaves that nice mint flavour and is just thick enough to give the gums a massage and drag out any remaining debris,” she adds.
The J&J floss has a 4.7-star rating on Walmart with over 200 reviews. “My teeth have some tight spots as they are close together in some areas. This floss doesn’t break on me in tight places. My cleaning appointments are A+,” one customer wrote in their review.
SHOP IT: Walmart, $17
For those who want a brush head that feels like a manual brush and makes less noise, Wat suggests the Philips Sonicare. This toothbrush promises to remove up to 7 times more plaque than a manual toothbrush. It has pressure sensors to help protect teeth and gums from excess brushing pressure.
This electric toothbrush has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon with more than 20,000 reviews.
“I'm a big fan of Sonicare. As best I can tell, this model is by far the best value for money in the Sonicare line. My six-year-old uses it. And he brushes more often and for longer and never with any fuss as a result,” says one reviewer. “Based on that alone, I'd give it 10 stars if I could.”
SHOP IT: Amazon, $60
Wat suggests using Teflon tape by Glide for teeth with tighter contact spaces. The Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean Dental Floss slides up to 50 per cent more easily in tight spaces compared to regular floss.
This dental floss has a 4.8-star rating on Amazon, with more than 1,500 reviews. “Will keep buying this floss. Good quality and works well. Doesn't break and glides well between teeth,” writes one happy customer.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $10
Bonus picks by us
It’s important to remember to rinse your mouth with mouthwash because it helps fight against tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. Listerine’s antiseptic formula kills the germs that lead to bad breath, gingivitis and plaque.
The Listerine Ultraclean mouthwash has a 4.8-star rating from more than 300 reviews at Walmart. ”My mouth has never felt cleaner! By far the best! I am so happy I bought this product, almost instantly I noticed a difference. This is by far the best mouthwash out there,” ravesa customer in their five-star review.
SHOP IT: Walmart, $10
Wat suggests that we should brush our teeth for two minutes twice a day. This Philips One by Sonicare toothbrush has a SmarTimer and QuadPacer that automatically guides you through 2-minute brushing. This toothbrush is a compact, vibrant and affordable toothbrush for those looking to upgrade from manual.
This toothbrush has a 4.7-star rating on Philips.ca with more than 500 reviews. “The bristles are much softer than other battery-operated brushes I have tried. Also, like the narrow shape for reaching back teeth. I also like the colours and travel case,” one customer wrote. “I don't have a convenient outlet for an electric brush. The only issue I have is that I had trouble changing the battery.”
SHOP IT: Well.ca, $55