You’ve heard it before, but every girl can use a refresher.
Floss first Not quite sure when you should floss? “Start with floss before you brush,” says dentist Dr Fiona Jacobsohn of the NHC Health Centre in Joburg (011 700 6644). “It helps dislodge food and plaque, which you can then brush away.” Avoid irritating your gums by sawing up and down; just move the floss gently in the grooves between your teeth.
Pick your paste “Choosing a toothpaste doesn’t have to be daunting,” says Dr Jacobsohn. “Look for one that contains fluoride and then choose a flavour.” If your teeth are sensitive, go for products with ingredients like strontium chloride; this blocks microtubules so extreme sensations don’t reach your nerves.
Brush up In an ideal world, you’d be brushing after every meal. But let’s face it, few of us have time to nip off to the bathroom to clean our teeth after a lunchtime sandwich. “As long as you do a thorough job in the morning and evening, it should be enough,” says Cape Town dental surgeon Dr Shantilal Bhikha (021 692 1212). Most of us stick to the twice-a-day rule, but a quick sweep is not sufficient. “You need a full two minutes to rid teeth of plaque,” says Dr Bhikha. Just don’t overdo it! Vigorous brushing erodes enamel.
Get gargling… or not? Some dentists recommend mouthwash – but others advise against washes that contain alcohol solvents as it’s believed that they can cause gum problems. A fluoride mouthwash will keep your breath fresh. But it’s no substitute for brushing or flossing; mouthwashes can only soften plaque, not remove it.
Not all celebs are born with perfect pearly whites. They turn to the pros to brighten, whiten and straighten out their smiles. Now you can, too!
Whitening Your quickest and easiest route to a red-carpet smile, this procedure lasts about an hour and a half and includes three 20-minute sessions over one appointment. Prices vary, but expect to pay around R5 000 for a full treatment that includes a maintenance kit. Your dentist will apply a whitening gel after protecting your gums with a rubber shield. A laser helps intensify the effects. “Most people love their new look, but it doesn’t please everyone,” says Dr Jacobsohn. “And it doesn’t work on fillings or crowns.”
Veneers Veneers can straighten up your smile and give your teeth a celeb-like sparkle without months in braces, but they can be expensive. It generally takes two or three appointments for porcelain veneers to be applied, and they cost around R2 500 per tooth. Your dentist will start by filing down the tooth enamel, usually under local anaesthetic. An impression is taken of your teeth and your veneers are made up in a lab. They are bonded to your teeth with cement and then hardened. You can also opt for the latest breakthrough: ThineersTM. The price of these is similar, but because they’re so thin you don’t have to go through the filing-down process. For more info, visit thineers.co.za (011 395 8597).