Overhauling my dental routine before it’s too late!

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 19 - 2013

My Dad ensured that, growing up, I was registered with a great dentist and that when the time came, I had access to whatever appropriate orthodontic treatment was needed.  Because of this, I was able to mostly avoid the overcrowding and hereditary overbite that plagues my family.  My teeth aren’t perfect but I got a great start in life thanks to someone who cared.

Which is why it’s pretty shocking that in my adult life, I’ve taken my oral care for granted.

Sure, I brush twice a day (mostly) and I visit the dentist every six months… but do nothing above and beyond this to take care of my teeth and gums.  Let’s just say… it’s starting to show.  Since having Leila, my gums have deteriorated and I’m starting to realise that if I want to keep my teeth into my senior years (as my Dad has done), I need to up my game.  I don’t have any fillings but I’ve recently had some fissures sealed to prevent what would have led to inevitable tooth decay, basically… I’m on borrowed time!


A very rare full Lipglossiping grin!

A couple of weeks ago, I had a nasty wakeup call.  There I was, happily tucking into some peanuts when all of a sudden, I felt a sharp pain and immediately directed my tongue to the source of the discomfort.  Directly above one of my top canine teeth, I could feel a lump.  This area of gum has given me problems in the past, although nothing major… some bleeding when brushing, a little tenderness, almost always the sorest bit during the dental examination with the pointy probe…

…It was a damn peanut shard!  My gum was far too soft (read: unhealthy) in that area and I’d managed to push a piece of peanut into the pocket between the gum and tooth.  A pocket that, in theory, shouldn’t be “loose” enough for that to happen.

It felt like something out of Alien and hurt like hell.  I took myself off to the bathroom and after a lot of swearing and “owwing”, managed to push the peanut back out.  Needless to say, I lost my appetite for anymore peanuts that evening.

Since then, I’ve been nursing a rather poorly section of gum.  Obviously, the incident had caused a bit of trauma to the area which became inflamed and very tender to the touch.  The gum had been pushed back from the toothline and had a horizontal cut where the peanut had done some damage.

One of the great thing about gums though, is that they’re pretty good at healing quickly.  Ten days later and they’re nearly back to normal.  The incident has made me acutely aware of the need to take care of, not only my teeth, but my gums.

I’ve stepped up my routine… and here’s how I’ve been doing it.

1. Brush your teeth twice a day, without fail

I’m sure we’ve all done it… it’s late, we’re tired… we fall into bed without brushing our teeth.  No biggie, right?  We’ll brush them really well in the morning.  Well… wrong.  Whilst some dentists advocate brushing your teeth after meals, I’m not going that far… it’s not practical.  I do however, hereby solemnly swear to brush my teeth before bed every night without fail.

Make sure that you’re brushing your teeth for long enough too!  Two to three minutes is the recommended length of time we should be brushing for.  It’s amazing how slowly that goes when you’re stood there with a toothbrush in your gob!

The timer that comes with the Oral-B Triumph 5000 is fantastic for keeping you on your toes.

2. Buy a toothbrush aimed at sensitive teeth and gums

I use an electric toothbrush daily but until my gums have toughened up a little, I’m taking the pressure down a notch.  There’s no point brushing away at soft, bleeding gums with something as abrasive as a hedgehog.  It’s with this in mind that I’ve bought a pack of “sensitive” replacement brush heads.  Hopefully it won’t be long before they can take the pressure of something a little firmer again.

3. Floss, floss, and then floss some more

Flossing just wasn’t a “thing” we did when I was growing up.  I remember watching Pretty Woman and not understanding what the flossing scene was about at all.  However, this is the one thing that my dentist implores me to do more of, every time I visit her.  Because my teeth are packed in quite tightly, I genuinely struggle with getting the floss between my tombstones… the best I’ve found are these Crest Glide Floss Picks because you can adjust the tension of the string, making it easier to actually get the floss in there.  The wishbone-shaped handles also mean that you don’t have to contort to reach the back teeth.

Also make sure you watch a few how-to videos on flossing, I was shocked at how far “around” you’re supposed to floss, hooking the tape across the tooth rather than just up and down inbetween the gaps.  It definitely takes some practice to get it right, but in my case… it’s the one thing that will sort out my gum problems more than any other.  I’d love one of those water/air jet flossers but I need to stop buying more exciting things save up some pennies first!

4. Use a specialist mouthwash

I’m actually anti-mouthwash, so this is going against my core principles!  When I first met Mr. L, he was a Listerine addict… drying out his mouth and gums daily with the alcohol-rich formula.  However, I do believe that in the short-term, the right kind of mouthwash will help improve inflammed gums.  I’ve been using Superdrug’s own brand of Chlorhexadine mouthwash (0.2%), it contains the same active ingredient you’ll find in Corsodyl but is a little cheaper.

Chlorhexadine can stain your teeth if used regularly (although it will polish off), so I’m only planning on using this in the short-term.  Alternatively… Oraldene, Colgate Peroxyl, or a cheap-as-chips 3% hydrogen peroxide solution should do the same thing.

5. Book an appointment with a dental hygienist

My dentist is fabulous and although I have, in the past, qualified for free dental treatment on the NHS… I haven’t used it.  I dearly love and support our NHS in the UK but whilst on the books at our “local” practice, not once did I see the same dentist, the continuity of care was terrible and I was only entitled to a scale and polish if deemed clinically necessary (widely open to interpretation!).

In other words, preventative measures are often kept to a bare minimum, understandable… but not ideal.  If you can afford it, consider booking an annual visit to a hygienist.  I pay my (private) dentist £45, twice a year… and for this, I get an annual check-up and a scale and polish every six months.  Anything else is charged as and when it’s needed, my last visit included the sealing of a fissure on one of my molars to prevent decay.  This cost me an extra £10.  Again, this is a preventitive measure that the NHS just can’t afford to provide to its patients.

Having said that, an NHS dentist is infinitely better than NO dentist at all!  Get on your dentist’s books people!

Do you take good care of your gums?  Are you a dentist’s dream… or their worst nightmare?!

9 Responses to “Overhauling my dental routine before it’s too late!”

  1. loobylou14 says:

    I don’t think you should tar all NHS dentists with the same brush. On saying that I am in Scotland and I think there might be some differences. I don’t pay for check-ups but if I get a scale and polish at the same time I think it costs me just over £10. I’ve had some fissures sealed and I sometimes get x-rays to keep an eye on some of my teeth but I haven’t had any major dental work, just some fillings. I like my dentist, she seems very thorough and she does her own scaling and polishing and doesn’t pap you off to a hygenist who, from speaking to work colleagues, seem to charge more than dentists. I think if you find a good dentist you should stick with them as there are a lot with very different ideas on how to treat their patients.

    • Please don’t think I’m tarring all NHS dentists with the same brush, you generally wouldn’t find a bigger supporter of our NHS than me, heck.. if I needed a root canal treatment tomorrow, I’d struggle to find the resources to pay almost £500 for it privately, compared to the £50 it would cost on the NHS.

      There is a massive postcode lottery though, that’s for sure.

      I should have made it clearer that the important thing is to find a GREAT dentist, regardless of whether they’re private or NHS. Down here in the South, there is very little choice for NHS dentistry (or at least there was 4 years ago when I last tried to get on someone’s books). The nearest accepting practice at the time was 18 miles away, that’s nearly a 40-mile round trip. And, as I said… they were terrible. I just didn’t have the option of picking and choosing a great dentist, the limitations (because I was trying to get NHS treatment) were immense.

      I think you should probably consider yourself *really* lucky to get that kind of treatment without having to fight/nag for it, definitely do not let that dentist of yours go!

  2. Trona says:

    I really need to do this, especially now I’m pregnant. My gums are starting to suffer :/

  3. Julianne says:

    Any recommendations for how-to flossing videos? I’m intrigued by this “hooking the tape across the tooth” thing you mention…

  4. Veronica says:

    I admit I’m terrible at brushing twice a day, but that’s one of the hazards of shift work – you’re never on the same schedule. Brushing after meals is actually not as well recommended as people think; it can actually cause breakdown of enamel because the toothpaste will leave your teeth vulnerable to the acidic content in some foods.

    Flossing, though, flossing is the BIG DADDY of tooth care. I was born with perfectly straight teeth, which may be aesthetically pleasing, but it causes all sorts of cavity and gum issues when you get older because the spaces between your teeth are much tighter than the average person’s. I was more or less told by my dentist that if I wasn’t flossing, I might as well not bother with a toothbrush. o_0

  5. Trimperley says:

    Thanks for the link to the video, I have only been going up and down with my floss so I learned something new today. I use Crest Glide floss and find it the best floss for me, it seems to remove more debris than any other floss. Tepe interdental brushes are useful too.

  6. […] loved Lipglossiping’s post Overhauling my dental routine before it’s too late! I’m becoming increasingly aware that my youthful resilence won’t last forever and that […]

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