Someone you know probably has a
fear of going to the dentist. Hell, there’s a good chance that someone is you. reports that as many as 75 percent of Americans have dental anxiety. But you know who you never hear anyone say they’re scared of? Dental The Journal of the American Dental Association hygienists.
Think about it: Dental hygienists are like angels that visit you right before the dentist goes in for the more daunting stuff, putting you at ease and giving your mouth that “wow, I forgot what really clean teeth actually feel like” experience. Even more so than angels, they’re like the estheticians of the dental industry, more or less performing tiny facials on your teeth to ensure your smile is healthy and radiant. And they love what they do.
“It gives me a sense of purpose knowing that I was a part of coaching, guiding, and educating my patients,” says Alexandra Ochi, a dental hygienist at
Silicon Beach Dental in Los Angeles. “Having a healthy smile instills confidence in people, and I am proud to say I help contribute to that.”
But even though dental hygienists are equipped to clean your teeth far better than you ever could on your own, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t be doing a better job — and they’re the ones who know exactly how. We spoke to Ochi and several other dental hygienists from around the country to find out which over-the-counter products they’re obsessed with, both for their patients and themselves.
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Dental hygienists we spoke to were fans of this carbamide-peroxide-based system, which they said made a noticeable difference in just five days. First, you brush on the gel-filled whitening pen, then stick the films to your teeth, and keep them there for 90 minutes. It may seem like a long time, but they promise the fast results are totally worth it.
apa Apa White Duo (11 piece), $150, available at DermStore
— PAID —
This pro-approved teeth whitening kit by SmileDirectClub is not only really convenient (you can whiten your teeth in five minutes while watching your favorite TV drama from the comfort of your cozy couch, if you so desire), but it’s super affordable, too. So what’s in the box, you ask? The kit comes with nine whitening pens
and an LED light similar to the ones dentists use for in-office treatments. SmileDirectClub Whitening kit, $79, available at SmileDirectClub
“Of all the toothpastes I’ve tried personally, this one contains an ingredient that keeps plaque off teeth longer than any other,” says Youlanda Bates, a registered dental hygienist in Las Vegas. “It keeps your teeth feeling smoother longer, which is important to me both personally and professionally.”
colgate Colgate Total Advanced Deep Clean Toothpaste – 4 oz, $4.53, available at Walmart
Colgate also make a toothpaste hygienists recommend for sensitive teeth. “I love how it treats dental hypersensitivity while at the same time providing great taste and foam,” says certified registered dental hygienist Ana Laura Otero, who works in Pembroke Pines, Florida. It promises to replenish natural calcium within your teeth’s enamel, all the while building up protection against sensitivity with each use.
colgate Enamel Health Multi-Protection Toothpaste Cool Mint , $3.97, available at Target
You can also get sensitivity relief with the help of a few natural ingredients, like the aloe and coconut oil found in this formula. “My patient love that, on top of sensitivity relief, this product is also free of gluten, dyes, sulfates and artificial sweeteners,” Ochi says. “And in addition to relieving sensitivity, it contains fluoride and xylitol which helps prevent cavities.”
hello Toothpaste, $5.49, available at hello
Ochi urges her patients to always choose brushes with extra-soft bristles, like the ones on this brush, which don’t compromise its effectiveness in any way. “This brush has tapered bristles that are able to sweep under the gums to remove unwanted plaque,” Ochi says.
gum GUM® Summit®+ Toothbrush, $2.59, available at gum
Ochi also loves this option, which has soft, tapered bristled infused with activated charcoal and a plant-based handle. And although you can purchase it on its own, Ochi notes that it’s actually free with a subscription from Hello’s website, “so there’s no excuse not to replace old, worn out toothbrushes,” she says.
hello Toothbrush, $3.99, available at hello
Bates is a fan of electric toothbrushes, especially those that help her patients become better brushers. “With features such as a timer that notifies you when to move to each quadrant of the mouth and a warning light when you use too much pressure, you can’t beat this toothbrush,” she says.
Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean Sonicare Electric Toothbrush, $200, available at Philips
Bates also sings the praises of this high-tech option, which features a Bluetooth-activated phone app that lets you know if you’re using the right brushing technique.
Oral-B Bluetooth Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, $159.99, available at Target
If you like the idea of charcoal bristles but prefer the power of an electric toothbrush, this clever device combines the two. “It’s a sleek powered toothbrush that features three brushing modes, a timer, and charcoal bristles,” Ochi says. “And the best part: Replacement brush heads are only $6.”
burst The BURST sonic toothbrush, $69.98, available at burst
If a dental hygienist doesn’t nag you to floss more, are they really dental hygienists? Multiple hygienists, including Otero, recommend this easy-to-find kind. “My patients love when I use Glide waxed floss on them. It is soft to their gums and easy to roll in the fingers without being slippery,” Otero says.
Oral-B Oral-B Glide Cool Mint Pro-Health Deep Clean Floss, $2.99, available at Target
“This floss is coated in a light cardamom natural blend of wax and expands to help remove plaque between the teeth,” Ochi says of one of her favorite flosses. “It’s gentle on gums and easy to maneuver between the teeth.”
dr tungs Dr. Tungs Smart Floss, 30 Yd, $5.85, available at Walmart
For a vegan option that’s also ridiculously cute — yes, floss can be cute — Ochi recommends this Sephora-sold option. “It comes in variety of flavors, it’s coated in a vegan wax and coconut oil, and their bright and cheerful packaging brings a little fun to flossing for my patients,” Ochi says.
cocofloss Cocofloss, $8, available at Sephora
Otero recommends alternating the use of floss or picks with this device, which nearly every dental hygienist we spoke to raved about. “It’s excellent for patients with restorations, implants, bridges, braces, or permanent retainers,” Otero says.
Waterpik WP-560 White Cordless Advanced Water Flosser, $99.99, available at waterpik
Bates says this alcohol-free formula is the closest you can get to a prescription mouthwash over the counter. “In my 17 years of experience as a dental hygienist, I’ve seen more of an improvement in gum health with this than any other mouthwash,” she says. “I also advise my patients to use it in their Waterpik tank so that the mouthwash is getting delivered under the gum line where harmful bacteria thrive.”
CloSYS Original Unflavored Mouthwash for Sensitive Mouths, $11.48, available at Amazon
Available in several flavors, this rinse is another favorite of Bates because it’s alcohol-free and contains fluoride. “Fluoride naturally combines with tooth enamel to strengthen it against sensitivity and decay,” she says. “I advise my patients to use this mouthwash in the morning and CloSYS in the evening.”
act ACT Mint Anticavity Flouride Mouthwash, 18 oz., $3.56, available at Walmart
Another option for those who want a more natural rinse, this mouthwash is alcohol-free and contains coconut oil, tea tree oil, and xylitol in additional to titular charcoal. “It’s sure to keep your breath fresh without stinging your mouth,” Ochi says.
hello activated charcoal extra freshening mouthwash, $6.99, available at hello
“Lately I’ve had many patients [who] swear by activated charcoal powder. It seems to do the trick and is becoming more popular,” says Bates, who has been impressed with the whitening results she’s seen. “I always advise patients that if they happen to start feeling sensitivity, then they should stop for a while and use fluoridated products. And any crowns or veneers will not whiten — only natural teeth.”
active wow Coconut Charcoal Powder Natural Teeth Whitening, $19.98, available at Target
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