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  • Dr Vyla Ellis

Care for your teeth like the dentist

Photo: Vyla's tools of the trade

Are you unsure about what exactly you should be using to care for your teeth? Which toothpaste? Is an electric toothbrush really better than a manual one? Today I'm opening up my bathroom drawer to show you what I use to to keep my teeth healthy and looking good.

1. Electric Toothbrush

When it comes to getting those pearly whites clean an electric toothbrush makes the task easier. I find that my teeth are cleaner with an electric toothbrush. There is a huge range on the market. I like the Oral B Pro 3000 which retails for about $70. You can get a very reliable Oral B Vitality Precision Clean toothbrush for about $40. When choosing an electric toothbrush select something with a small head, soft bristles (I use the Oral B Sensitive Heads) and make sure its rechargeable.

2. Manual Toothbrush

I use this when I'm travelling because its lighter. I chose an extra-soft brush with a small head and absolutely no bells or whistles. I always chose the most plain looking head I can find.

Hot tip: the bells and whistles on manual toothbrushes are there to sell you the toothbrush, not to help clean your teeth.

3. Colgate Total Toothpaste

This has been my toothpaste of choice since way back in 2006 when I was learning about toothpastes at uni. It has fluoride which helps protect against decay and it inhibits plaque build-up for up to 12 hours after brushing.

4. Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief Toothpaste

From time to time most of us will suffer from sensitive teeth. For me it's usually over summer when I've been indulging in a few more sav blancs and vodka sodas than usual. Both of these are acidic and its the acidity which causes sensitivity. When this happens I switch to Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief for a couple of days which I find resolves the sensitivity.

5. Oral B Satin Floss

Yes, I floss everyday. I must admit that I didn't used to but just like everyone else age is creeping up on me and from what I see with my patients I know that means that my habits have to improve. Oral B Satin Floss is smooth and I use it every night. The cleaning you do of an evening is more critical than what you do in the morning because you are keeping your teeth clean for all those hours until breakfast.

6. Piksters

I had braces as a teenager and as such have a wire behind my teeth to keep them in place. If you have one of these you will know what a nightmare blueberry and strawberry seeds can be. Piksters are the perfect solution for keeping those hard to get to spaces clean. You can pick them up at the supermarket, chemist or your local dental clinic.

7. Pola Night Tooth Whitening

I have a coffee addiction. In fact if I couldn't have a coffee in the morning I would probably have to cancel all my patients for the day as I would be dangerous holding sharp instruments. I also like my shiraz and that means that my teeth stain. Every couple of years I use a Pola Night take home kit to get my teeth back to being white. I wear the tray once for 90 minutes and then I put them away again to use in another couple of years.

8. Orthodontic Retainers

My orthodontist told me to wear plastic retainers whilst sleeping for 12 months after my braces came off. That was 10 years ago. We now advise our patients to wear their retainers to sleep, for life. If you've thrown your's away its very straight forward to have new ones made. I don't wear mine every night but I do wear them 3 nights a week which is enough to keep my teeth in position. Afterall I've already had braces twice and I don't fancy going for round 3.

Please keep in mind that although this works well for me that it won't work for everyone. If you have a history of a lot of decay, are medically compromised, take a large number of medications, eat a high sugar/acid diet or suffer a dry mouth this regime will be inadequate and you should ask your dentist or dental hygienist what is best for you.

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