9 Dental Hygiene Hacks to Smile About
A “life hack” is any sort of trick, skill or shortcut used to maximize efficiency in some facet of daily life. For example, tie some colorful string or yarn to your suitcases. The yarn will make them more readily identifiable at the airport luggage carousel. An extremely simple “hack,” but given the number of travelers with seemingly indistinguishable luggage, this simple trick can help you spot your bags and be on your way in no time.
Today we want to share nine dental hygiene hacks that can help improve your dental health, dental esthetics and daily routine.
1. Get a Tongue Scraper
When you walk into the average bathroom, you’re likely to find similar dental hygiene products. Toothbrush, check. Floss, check. Mouthwash, check. Tongue scraper…?
A tongue scraper is a basic tool that is used to clean the surface of the tongue. Bacteria accumulates on the tongue, and can contribute to bad breath and a foul taste in the mouth. Furthermore, the scraper keeps bacteria in check and helps you maintain the appropriate acidic balance in the mouth, which is essential for proper tooth and gum health.
If you don’t want to splurge on the couple of dollars it costs for a tongue scraper, try brushing your tongue. However, this hack can be a little bit more challenging and less effective. Especially if you have a strong gag reflex.
2. Floss Less, More
Flossing isn’t exactly a difficult part of the daily dental hygiene regimen, but it’s the sort of thing that can be done ineffectively (or skipped altogether) if you’re in a rush. If you’re someone that struggles to find the patience to floss effectively, try splitting up your routine across the day.
Unlike brushing, you only need to floss once daily. But not all at once. Floss your lower teeth in the morning and your upper teeth at night (or vice versa).
3. Eat Detergent Foods
No, we’re not pitching some sort of Tide Pod challenge here. The detergent we’re talking about includes specific types of food that actually help to clean the teeth. Chewing a stick of sugar-free gum after meals stimulates saliva and cleanses the teeth. But not everybody likes gum. So why not incorporate more foods into your diet that offer similar benefits?
Apples, raw carrots, celery and popcorn are just a few of the foods that are known to help clean teeth. Try eating some of these foods at the end of a meal in lieu of sugar-free gum or brushing. Keep in mind that these foods are not a substitute for your regular hygiene habits. So don’t go thinking that eating an apple for breakfast means you don’t need to brush your teeth.
4. Ditch the Whitening Toothpaste
Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic trends in dentistry. Everyone wants that bright, white smile, but not everyone opts for an in-office, professional whitening approach. One of the everyday options for many people is whitening toothpaste. But what you might not realize is that many whitening toothpastes are highly abrasive. Rather than bleaching the teeth, whitening toothpastes rely on the brushing action that helps strip away stain-causing tooth particles. Although this abrasiveness can be effective in helping to whiten the teeth, it can also strip away healthy, protective tooth enamel.
The best way to avoid unwanted damage to your teeth is to opt for a non-abrasive toothpaste, and find your solution to whitening elsewhere. Over-the-counter strips and trays are quite effective, and you might be able to find some great deals from dentists or spa whitening.
5. Whiten with Lipstick
Ladies, there’s a way to make your teeth look whiter without lifting a brush, applying a strip, or sitting in a dental chair. Selecting the right shade of lipstick can make your teeth appear whiter. Blue-based formulas, dark berries and purples, sheer formulas with a hint of gloss and cool undertone colors can help accentuate the white of the teeth, giving the appearance of a whiter-than-normal smile.
Keep in mind that this lipstick hack cuts both ways. Choosing the wrong color lipstick can make your teeth appear more yellow.
For more info, check out this cool breakdown from Elle Beauty.
6. Rinse with Water
Food particles and the acids in beverages can be a scourge for dental health. H2O to the rescue. By rinsing the mouth with water immediately after eating, you can remove food particles and stem bacterial growth, while cleansing the mouth and teeth. For maximum effectiveness, rinse and repeat several times, swishing the water around the mouth to hit every nook and crevice.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been touted as a “cure-all” by many alternative medicine practitioners, but when it comes to its application in the world of dental hygiene, it’s a bit controversial. The highly acidic nature of the vinegar suggests that it can damage oral health, and potentially strip tooth enamel. Yet there are many in the dental community who suggest that gargling with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water (to dilute the acidity) can help to control bacteria in the mouth, remove tooth stains whiten the teeth.
8. Hydrogen Peroxide
Speaking of unorthodox oral rinses, let’s talk hydrogen peroxide. You’re probably familiar with the use of this mild antiseptic on the skin to clean cuts and prevent infection. But did you know that it can be used to great effect as a mouthwash? With a rather big and important caveat of course. The hydrogen peroxide must be 1% to 3% concentration and mixed with an equal amount of water. DO NOT INJEST!
As is the case with any mouth rinse, simply swish around the mouth and spit. You should then rinse again with water to clear away any remaining residue. When used correctly, hydrogen peroxide can be a more effective disinfectant than mouthwash.
If the idea of using a hydrogen peroxide mixture as an oral rinse makes you a bit nervous, just keep in mind that most over-the-counter mouthwashes have alcohol in them, which can damage the oral mucosa.
9. Brush with Baking Soda
Did you know that you can use baking soda to brush your teeth? Aside from being much cheaper than toothpaste (a box of baking soda costs $1 and lasts for a long time), it has proven to be an effective alternative to whiten the teeth and remove staining. In fact, it’s so effective that many toothpaste brands have starting incorporating baking soda.
The downside of brushing with baking soda is that it can be quite messy. It also doesn’t contain any fluoride, which is essential for dental health. But there are other ways to get fluoride. And you don’t have to brush with baking soda every day. Try incorporating it into your routine once or twice a week and see what you think.