This is going to be a post you either love or hate to read. Some will think – “Who gives two hoots about what this girl uses to brush her teeth” and the other portion of you, which is where I’d sit – love these little insights into what others find effective in their daily lives. Okay, so let’s get fresh! Ha! Sorry, I couldn’t resist using that corny opening line! 😉 I’ve been meaning to write a post on this since forever and in light of this little space being sadly neglected of recent times, I thought this long intended post was an appropriate one to put together.
Tell me – what are your teeth cleaning treasure tips? I have to tell you, over the past few years our teeth cleaning techniques have grown to include some really amazing and very beneficial tools. Gone are the days of thinking that merely brushing, a quick floss and a rinse with some random mouthwash will do everything needed to keep our oral hygiene in tip-top shape. I have memories of when I was younger, being in the front seat of the car next to Mum driving – on the way to school. It used to make me so ridiculously annoyed when she would calmly and politely say “Elk, did you clean your teeth this morning?” – “YES MUM” I would snap back as I rolled my eyes and reached for the packet of Extra chewing gum in my bag. Extra was a good friend when I was younger – so much so, that I used to have this crazy idea that I would one day plaster a wall with Extra papers. Seriously! I used to iron those things flat and had a huge box collecting them. Gosh – to have that kind of spare time on my hands now!
Here in lies the key though to proper oral care, in my opinion. I most likely, each and every time, had thoroughly and effectively ‘cleaned’ my teeth with my toothbrush and our very fresh smelling toothpaste when my mother asked me that most upsetting question. I’d even used a popular mainstream mouthwash that was supposed to be like dynamite on bad breath! I was quite diligent about cleaning my teeth when I was younger – I always have been. However I realised that I can brush my teeth all I like, until the cows come home really – but it’s never going to get in between the little nooks and crannies of each and every tooth to get out the food that sneaks it’s way into those little hidey-holes sitting hidden away there decaying and stinking. The places we most likely all end up with cavities and needing fillings.
Enter flossing, pikstering, tongue scraping and oral care powder. These simple little techniques all combined, give one powerhouse kick to our oral care routine. Oh and our recently purchased Electric Toothbrush – which I’m not a huge fan of, but our dentist recommends it and I can tell you – the few times I’ve used it, my teeth really do have a totally different ‘clean’ feel to them. When I run my tongue around my teeth after brushing with that motorised, nose tickling, light headedness inducing gadget – they really do have that super smooth feeling that I normally only ever feel after our 6 monthly scale and clean at the dentist. Honestly, I despise electric toothbrushes because for some strange reason (and I know from talking to many people over the years that this is very uncommon) the vibration from the brush while I am cleaning my teeth, tickles my nose – and a new bonus (as I’m getting older) the vibration in my head seems to make me feel extremely unwell as my vision bounces all around the place while I’m brushing! Not overly fantastic 🙁
Here’s the benefits that I enjoy from of each of these little techniques;
Toothpastes – We predominantly use Weleda’s pastes, which our Holistic minded dentist does also recommend to us. On occasion we will grab an organic toothpaste if we won’t be able to get to a store where we can purchase Weleda. If we are going to use something other than Weleda, we always ensure our toothpaste is saccharin free.
Flossing – No new revolution here. The tape or string moves up and down between the teeth, aiming to remove food lodged in there. Great idea! However, I find that the floss seems to move the food up into the gap between my teeth at the gum line. Whilst some of it can be enticed out with a ‘scooping’ type action, it definitely doesn’t remove it all. To be honest, I’ve tried every organic, natural, beeswax coated floss over the years and none of them work for me. They don’t glide well enough, they are too thick for the gaps between my teeth (even the supposed ‘fine’ ones), they fray and end up breaking while I’m using them – leaving the most annoying little fibres between my teeth! Unfortunately it’s a very mainstream floss we use. I know there’s lots of negative reviews out there about floss’ but in my opinion, this stuff works for my teeth and we dispose of it responsibly.
Piksters – These awesome little, strange looking things are like the tiniest little bottle brushes you’ve ever seen – Fairy sized ones! These go back and forth in between that little gap at the top of the teeth on the gum line. For years I watched my mother and husband use these, told them they were nuts and refused to use them. Then after the need for several small cavity fillings between my teeth and a stern talking to from my dentist about the condition of my gums, I surrendered to the pikster. Verdict? I can’t believe I was so stubborn for so long and cost myself a whole bunch of dental work! It’s the decaying food stuck between the teeth and in that little nook at the top of the tooth line that harbours so much odour and bacteria. Bad for my breath, terrible for my dental health. These little gadgets are brilliant for pushing out caught food and cleaning thoroughly in that little space at the gum line, while giving the gum a nice little massage to keep it optimally healthy as well. They come in a variety of custom sizes so I can find a brush that suits the gap size between my teeth best. I use the tiny, delicate, pink handled ones.
Tongue Scraping – I first stumbled upon this when Kristen Suzanne did a video about her teeth cleaning habits. We really do live in a strange time don’t we? When people write about and others are interested in reading about someone else’s teeth cleaning! I’m one of those that love it, because without people sharing these things I definitely wouldn’t know about so many beneficial things that I use daily in our lives now – such as Tongue Scraping! Our tongue houses so much bacteria that is so detrimental to not only our tooth health but our breath as well. We can brush and floss and pikster but one of the final keys is in removing the thick layer of white gunk off our tongue. Now let me tell you – in my experience, even when I was tongue brushing with a fancy little moulding on the reverse side of a toothbrush, it is nothing like tongue scraping! Seriously. My mind boggled at the thick film of paste that scraped right off my seemingly ‘clean’ tongue the first time I ever used one of these. I’m never turning back from Tongue Scraping and the inexpensive cost of these little gadgets is definitely worth it in my opinion when considering the cost of dental health.
Oral Care Powder – We make up a big batch of Oral Care Powder every so often that lives in a little jar with all our teeth cleaning bits and bobs. We sprinkle a little bit onto our brush and run all around our teeth, tongue, roof of and inside of mouth. Every surface in there gets a going over with this whitening, freshening, wonder powder after we finish our brush, floss, pikster, scrape rhythm. The base is an aluminium free bicarb and Himalayan Salt. The rest is a mix of essential oils beneficial to dental health that our Naturopath recommends to us. Catherine sells pots of her specially formulated Oral Care Powder through her clinic, otherwise if you’d like to make your own, you can google around to find essential oils that are the most beneficial to dental health. There’s a tonne of great info out there, just be cautious of any specific health concerns that may need mindfulness with essential oil use. In pregnancy of course you need to be extremely cautious about the use of essential oils. I would recommend in any case, running a formula you plan to use – past your Natural Heath Professionals to check it’s suitability before use.
Propolis – This product is recommended for daily use on bacteria, bad breath, gum disease and all the rest. I only use this product acutely when I’ve bitten the inside of my mouth, eaten or drunk something too hot or have some other little niggly, annoying discomfort happening on my tongue, inside of the cheek or gums. I find a day or so of using a few drops of this in my rinse water is brilliant and fast acting on curing any little mouth ulcer type issue.
Of course, being in a situation where the time to iron flat Extra wrapper papers is something I most definitely do not have now-a-days, the time for a full teeth cleaning run through sometimes eludes me as well. On these days I normally make sure to give a quick brush with whatever natural/organic paste we are using at the time, quickly pikster or tongue scrape and perhaps splash a few drops of Weleda’s mouthwash into my rinse water. Especially if I’ll be out and about seeing people I know! 😉 Of an evening I try to be more diligent with my full routine, after all the meals throughout the day. I’m definitely also not trying to give the elusion that I never miss brushing my teeth! I have a baby and a very busy family. Occasionally Marlin wakes and calls me of an evening right close to my bed time and I’ve not yet gotten to the bathroom to clean my teeth. At those times, I’ll normally make sure the next morning to give my teeth extra special attention. Is it good to miss cleaning your teeth every now and again? Absolutely not – but it definitely does happen every so often for me, here in this busy Mumma life. I’m definitely not claiming you won’t ever catch me with funky smelling salami breath or dirty, furry, desperately needing to be cleaned teeth – that’s just a reality of never having enough hours in the day. For the most part though, I really do try to take the best care of my teeth possible. I honestly think it’s extremely important for not only myself but also as a value to model and instil in our children.
For the wee ones – what do they use? I have to say I loved the idea of bamboo brushes. I love the eco-ness of them and how they feel to use. However after using them for quite a long period of time and then being given a mainstream uber ergonomic, fancy design brush by our dentist upon one of our visits – I realised that the bamboo brushes really fell short in their design a little. I’d love to be able to use something a little more environmentally friendly, but at the end of the day – tooth longevity is the key here and it really is my opinion that there really isn’t the same level of design and research invested into the bamboo brushes as there is into the major brands very custom and meaningful designs. These things really do brush teeth well and make a big, noticeable different to the effectiveness of one’s overall dental care. I would love to say the wee ones use the child bamboo brushes (which they did for a while) but in all honesty, they use a regular child’s toothbrush. To mix it up a bit and for a bit of fun with our brushing, Jack and Jill products are a bit of a favourite, but often it’s also just a regular child’s toothbrush – one without all the commercial characters, logos and cartoons all over them. Chilli is at an age now where she can manage to floss between her teeth which is really fantastic with noticeable benefits. She has so many gaps from loosing 8 teeth by 7 years of age, that flossing is a piece of cake! She’s mighty conscious of her dental health care and has a personal goal to always have super healthy teeth, never needing a filling ever! Good on her, she’s definitely very committed to her teeth cleaning. Marlin, well – he goes through toothbrushes at a rate of knots. I’m not sure if he eats the bristles or spits them out all over the place, but the silicon brushes last a very short time before they are toothless themselves. He had 8 teeth by 6 months of age and has quite a full mouth of choppers now at 18 months. He’s totally gorgeous when he sits up on Graham’s knee – opening, closing and ‘chomping together with a smiley face’ as he’s asked – letting Papa brush his teeth very well. For the rest of the time we’re all in taking care of our teeth, he looks in the mirror, brushing his own teeth with the cutest little motion I’ve ever seen. For the most part though he just gnaws on the brush heads until they look like they’ve been attacked by wild dogs! I’d say he has very clean teeth for his age! For paste Chilli and Marlin use Weleda Children’s, or a Jack and Jill one.
Now of course you can read the good and bad about everything on line now-a-days and I am sure many of these techniques have negative reviews out there. For us though, we’ve found each of these methods to combine together for a wonderfully fresh, highly effective, tooth cleaning regime in our home – for our fussy and very particular family.