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“There are over a hundred different species that live in the mouth and seven billion bacteria. When there is inflammation in the mouth there are now 120 systemic inflammatory diseases that are directly linked to gum inflammation such as heart disease, diabetes, low term birth weight just to name a few,” says Dr. Jonathan B. Levine, DMD, a New York City-based aesthetic dentist adjunct associate professor at NYU’s School of Dentistry. While for a non-professional it could be difficult to fully comprehend the meaning behind the numbers he mentions, the diseases Dr. Levine lists are a whole other thing—heart disease and diabetes are among the most prevalent health conditions in the United States, according to a 2018 study, and bad dental health may contribute to that.
The truth is that we often pay more attention to our skincare routine and tend to overlook the importance of having a dental one as well. But is critical to our overall health.
“Without a routine of proper oral hygiene, the bacteria in the mouth causes inflammation called gingivitis and when this is chronic it is called periodontal disease,” Dr. Levine explains. “As the bacteria in the mouth are not cleaned properly, this biofilm changes its composition to the inflammatory pathogen that also causes systemic inflammatory disease.”
Something as simple as a cavity, for example, if not treated can lead to tooth loss or infection. And speaking of cavities, acidity is the primary reason for cavities, according to Dr. Levine. Disease-causing bacteria thrive in acidic environments—erosion leads to the breakdown of the teeth, which allows bacteria to enter. Gum disease—which occurs when plaque is allowed to build up along the gum lines—is another serious condition that could result from a lack of proper dental routine.
“If undisturbed the bacteria start to produce toxins which lead to inflamed gums. In some people this can progress to gum disease or periodontitis,” says Dr. Barbara Shearer, director of scientific affairs for Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals. “Periodontitis is a condition where the bone supporting the teeth is lost.”
So what does the perfect dental routine look like? We all know that brushing our teeth and flossing after each meal is essential but that, unfortunately, is not enough.
While Dr. Shearer says that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to an oral care regimen—ideally, your dentist would customize a dental routine to fit your needs—brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice daily, adopting a diet low in sugars, regular plaque removal, and a mouth rinse is crucial.
“A mouth rinse can provide additional benefits and reach places that a toothbrush can’t,” she adds.
Florida-based Dr. Bruce Lein, DDS, also recommends using both string floss and a Waterpik. It’s important to note that one is not a substitute for the other. Flossing removes calculus or tartar, and other debris, attached to the teeth, while the Waterpik rinses out residue or food stuck in between your teeth and can also reduce bacteria below the gumline. People with more space between their teeth may also consider using dental tape instead of regular string floss—the difference, according to Dr. Lein, is that dental tape is broader and flatter than standard floss and comes waxed or unwaxed.
As he puts it, having a regular dental routine “will not eliminate all possible complications that can occur in one’s lifetime but it will significantly decrease the odds.”
Fortunately, thanks to technology and research, we now have more resources at our disposal than ever before. Companies are launching innovative products each year aimed at making it easier and more effective to maintain a regular dental routine.
Here, we rounded up some of the most essential dental products you need to have in your bathroom cabinet.
Quip’s mission: “to bring delight to your daily routine and help you guide good habits from morning refresh to bedtime brushing.”
The company has developed an electric brush that is not only much smaller and lighter than regular electric brushes (and so it’s perfect for travel) but a single charge can last up to three months. The brush comes with a holder (that doubles as a travel cover) that can be mounted on your bathroom mirror for convenience.
To buy: from $25, quip.com
Waterpik Water Flosser
With over nine thousand five-star reviews on Amazon, this waterpik is a customer-favorite. It’s super easy to use and has ten water pressure settings as well as a massage mode for your gums. It also comes with seven tips, which is useful if there are multiple people using it, that include special ones for implants and periodontal pockets.
To buy: $70, amazon.com
Tom's Of Maine Anti Plaque Flat Spearmint Floss
This thick floss is gentle on your gums and it effectively removes plaque and food bits stuck between your teeth. Tom’s of Maine develops its products with no artificial flavors and colors.
To buy: $18/pack of 6, amazon.com
Twice Duo Toothpaste
“Toothpaste that has fluoride and potassium nitrate with vitamins and antioxidants are the best and the safest,” says Dr. Levine. And TWICE checks all these categories.
This toothpaste prevents cavities, improves enamel health, gently gets rid of stains, and provides relief to sensitive teeth.
To buy: $17, smiletwice.com
Uncle Harry's Natural Alkalizing Miracle Mouthwash
This is indeed a miracle product that is formulated with natural ingredients only (micro-filtered water, calcium carbonate, sea salt, mustard seed, and essential oils). It balances the pH by neutralizing acids and bacteria in your mouth and leaves your breath smelling fresh. You can also use it as a gargling agent to reduce swelling and flush out throat irritants.
To buy: $15, amazon.com
Colgate Optic White Advanced LED
Colgate’s first whitening LED device will get you that pearly white smile in the comfort of your home. It uses blue light to help activate the whitening system and to effectively remove stains from your teeth in just ten minutes a day. After ten days your teeth will be six shades whiter.
To buy: $205, colgate.com