Look I really hope this isn’t, y’know, too much – but I’m really worried about my teeth.
I don’t use an electric toothbrush and I floss infrequently. Sometimes my gums are, like… a bit itchy.
I do brush my teeth properly though. I angle the brush to the gum line and all that crap. And I brush for a long time. “You brush your teeth for such a long time,” says Giles.
I also don’t eat much sugar, really hardly any at all. But at certain points my gums are receding, I am getting, literally, long in the tooth. And I know that gums don’t grow back – and that past 35, you’re just mouthful of capped teeth waiting to happen.
I was particularly touched and affected by a scene in The Cazalets (bk 1) were a character is incredibly upset because she has just been told by the dentist that she has to have all her teeth pulled out. And this is in the Thirties where you then had to wear, I don’t know… dentures or something? And she’s only 40.
So why don’t I just floss?
Because I can’t. I just can’t. Last thing at night it’s bad enough having to wash my face, let alone floss. I know it’s not responsible, okay? I’m not asking for forgiveness.
Anyway as you can imagine I was greatly relieved to read this in the paper yesterday – about how flossing isn’t the be-all and end-all of good dental care that hygienists are constantly telling us it is; a combination of Xylitol, found in certain chewing gums and also in the sugar substitute Total Sweet – and mouthwashes will do an okay job if you, like me, have a horror of the pick string.
Here are 5 top tips that I copied out of yesterday’s Times for keeping hold of your teeth without having a floss.
1 Chew Peppersmith mints or gums after every meal.
2 Before brushing your teeth use UltraDex, which removes bacteria.
3 Brush your teeth (you do, alas, actually have to do this)
4 Use Listerine Original mouthwash. This has been proven IN CLINICAL TRIALS to be more effective than flossing.
5 Use Fluorigard before bed
dr P says
Hooray! I hate flossing! Mouthwash it is….although occasionally I use those tiny brush sticks to get rid of side stains (heavy coffee drinker) to put off visits to hygenist
Sunshine Rider says
My lovely gran had all of her teeth removed in her 20s, just after getting married, because that was what was done back then in Australia. She said it broke her heart.
Gosh, yes I know what you mean about that bit in the Cazelet Chronicles.
My hygienist gets very upset with anyone who uses mouthwash. She said it stains your teeth.
Mimi Hammill says
Sorry Esther, the press got this wrong. The actual message should’ve been “flossing doesn’t work…as well as interdental brushing in gaps big enough for an interdental brush. Floss is best just for between teeth that are too tight together for an interdental brush”. Seriously, it was all about interdental brushes (the wee tiny bottle brushes) and all the papers totally f-ed up the message. (Ps, I’m a former dentist. Get an electric brush, a scale and polish, and some advice on the right size of ID brushes, yeh?!)
Mimi you’ve depressed me beyond words
I’m a hygienist (not the evangelical, tutting, headmistressy type though- so please hear me out!)
That US study has been misrepresented by the media (surprise!) What it actually concluded was that for those people with active gum disease (large gaps, pockets under gum line, bleeding) then interdental brushes (like tepes) are effective and necessary, whereas floss achieves very little plaque removal for those people. Thorough Brushing X 2 daily for 2min with fluoride toothpaste, spit excess paste don’t rinse away with water. Xylitol is great stuff after meals (we sell peppersmiths at my surgery)
Mouthwash is a waste of time and money (especially listerene, which can cause some staining on teeth and chemical burns inside mouth if used to excess- horrible stuff!)
Also, Esther, you could be brushing bit too hard with your manual brush, you’re worried about ‘recession’? Could be scrubbing a bit and causing wear or abrasion- electric brushes can be better for this reason. Anyway, everyone please do go and see your hygienists! We’re here to help, and we’re not all assholes! (I hope this post hasn’t come across as assholish?!- sorry if it has!)
I can’t like as I’m not logged in, but “like”
When I went to the hygienist he told me because my teeth were not packed too tightly together they were actually ‘self-cleaning’. Which is the green light I needed to continue my routine of ‘brush my teeth’. My husband has incredibly nice looking teeth, like American teeth, and has never needed any work, and he brushes his teeth for an implausibly long time and does not floss either. So I think it’s largely in the brushing, as long as you’re careful not to do it too hard as it strips the enamel apparently. Is that three different mouthwashes in the list? How are you meant to fit those all in?! I’d also be worried that in a few years there would be a study saying that mouthwashes are found to cause incurable xyz, when I’d practically been bathing in the stuff. I realise I sound like an anxious crazy person, but I’m ok with that about myself.
Excellent advice from Sarah, the hygienist. Echoes exactly the guidelines from my great dentist. He is evangelical about not using Listerine etc. His advice – x2 daily with electric toothbrush ( change heads regularly ) and interdental sticks.
Electric toothbrushes are great-they do all the work for you!
but they make my head vibrate most unpleasantly
Seconding the love for teepee brushes. If I haven’t teepee’d for a few days, when I do it feels like I’ve just been to the hygienist. Without the horror of the metal hook
Two words. Water irrigator. Nothing poking in your teeth but fresh water…or water mixed with mouthwash. They are brilliant. You won’t believe how well they work,
I use a manual too but have recently swapped from oral b to these babies https://shop.curaprox.co.uk/toothbrushes/81-cs-5460-ultra-soft.html having read about them in the Sunday Times. They’re super soft so won’t damage your gums and are also perfect for kids, plus they’re dirt cheap and come in funky colours. My hygienist actually commented last time on how well I was brushing – never happened before.
You might be brushing too hard…that’s a major cause of gum recession. According to my dentist…
I gave up smoking 2 years ago and developed gum disease (well the smoking masked it) Anyway, £2000 pounds later and two wisdom teeth extractions I’m ok. My hygienist is v bossy and says mouth washes are a waste of money. I now use the interdental brushes Twice.a.day. and FOR THE REST Of MY LIFE..
Husband uses water irrigator and TPs and I floss every day- both hygienist approved. I also have receding gums and dentist says it’s because I brush too hard. Flossing took me a while to get used to, but now feel grotty if don’t do it- it’s like body brushing and slathering self in body oil: it’s really vexing to discover that it works. Have had gold star from scary hygienist ever since…
Two words (that have changed my teeth/life FOREVAH):
Also delighted to read this, even with the news you still have to use those teeny brushes which are really bloody expensive and only last a couple of goes.
Am afraid I have to echo everyone else praising electric toothbrushes. Always thought they were rubbish until I brushed my gums to the point of exposing the dentyne on one tooth. I have great teeth with no fillings (yes I’m smug) dentist told me was no point having fab teeth if they then all fell out due to crap gums. Went straight from dentist to get electric toothbrush. Also now off to Google Airfloss.
I have receding gums too. I think as a consequence of two hyperemesis pregnancies, being taught to “brush my gums” as a teen, using too many Colgate whitening strips in the US in my early 20’s etc etc. Anyway I also just can’t with flossing (or the interdental brushes) even though I know I should. I now keep them at bay by seeing the hygienist every 8 weeks. Oral b brush that flashes when you are brushing too hard also v helpful.
That bit in the Cazalet Chronicles where Villy gets her teeth extracted is hideous. No wonder she was traumatised. We are lucky not to live in the 1930s.
Sue I often think this
Well, as a dentist I was going to set you straight on this but I see several people have done that already!
Mouthwash does NOT clean between your teeth. It sounds like you are brushing your teeth too hard along the gumline and you really would be better with an etb (sorry- electric toothbrush) but only and I mean ONLY if it has an oscillating-rotating head. Get one with a pressure sensor and it will flash when you push too hard. Also, try not to brush straight after eating/drinking as the acid in your food/drink softens your enamel and leaves it more vulnerable to being brushed away. Interdental brushes are great for people with spaces between their teeth but I don’t think you can beat floss for preventing decay at the contact points where your teeth meet.
Great that you don’t eat much sugar though 🙂
Elisabeth Heien says
You can buy these little beauties that look like a little ‘U’ w a handle and a piece of dental floss strung between the pointed tops of the U. Here in Norway we call them ‘tooth-harps’…but then we’re a weird bunch in the first place. Never even joined the EU and all that. I have an obsession w these and carry the shorter version around in my bag in a little zip-bag every day (the ‘U’ part is disposable but good for a few uses). My dentist is lavish w her praise over my clean teeth.. Alas, I have to repeat what everyone else has been saying re the brushing too hard causing receding gums. My husband has even actually managed to wear off, as in brush off,his enamel layer due to too vigorous brushing with a too hard (medium) brush…yikes! Listerine caused my tongue to burn so bad for hours AND stained my teeth. Never wanna touch that stuff again.
Rosemary White (@rosemarywhite) says
BTW I see that the The Cazalets (BBC version) – which I seem to remember was quite good – is available on Amazon for 4.79……
Water-Pic has a very good oscillating type of toothbrush, then you don’t have to floss.