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COVID has left us with poorer dental health. Here is how to fix it.

With some cities in lockdown for as long as 260 days due to the risks of the pandemic, Dentists say that this has left us with poorer dental health. The risk of contracting the virus, some clinics not opening and dental visits just lower on the priority list have meant we’re left to our own devices, if we bother to use them. We spoke to Dr Rick Iskander from Tailored Teeth, asked all the questions you’re afraid to and to hear more about the new smart toothbrush from Philips.

Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige

The latest electric toothbrush from Philips is leaps and bounds ahead of the brush on the stick at the grocery store. The electric toothbrush with bluetooth connects to an app on your smartphone (Apple and Android supported) to sense where you are brushing, for how long and how hard you are pressing. The app can help you target areas of concern and remind you when you’ve missed a spot. The app also allows you to keep track of your brushing habits and makes it easy to answer questions during a dental visit. A traditional looking brush head is used and a carry case and charger is also provided. The new toothbrush is clinically proven to provide 100% more stain removal and 20% more plaque removal. Hardly surprising when Philips say it operates at 62000 brush movements per minute.

Ready to be used for 14 days between charging you can use the provided USB charging base or charge through the carry case using USB-C.

While being one of the smartest toothbrushes we have seen, Dr Iskander was able to answer questions to help anybody in their dental routine.

When shopping for a toothbrush, what kind of bristles should we use?

The focus should be on selecting a brush head with soft bristles, never medium or hard, only soft are appropriate and anything harder than this can be removing healthy tooth structure – a process called toothbrush abrasion. I try to be pragmatic with my recommendations to patients about what they use to clean their teeth. When it comes to toothbrush heads, it’s more of a matter of practicality than any individual claim that a toothbrush head can confer a special power to your brushing. 

Philips have come up with new brush heads that they call the A3 Premium All-in-one, which has enamel-safe bristles that are able to transfer the exceptional mechanical power of the Sonicare 9900 Prestige to allow for an exceptional plaque and stain removal experience.

Philips brushing app

What is the key advantage between electric over manual brushing?

There are two big “tooth killers” I see in patients who use a manual toothbrush without ideal technique. Firstly, scrubbing too vigorously or using bristles that are too hard and wearing away the protective layer of enamel that coats the tooth, leaving soft, sensitive, yellow-coloured dentine that looks unsightly and is ten times more prone to decay and erosion than enamel.

The second “tooth killer” is missing or forgetting to clean areas of the mouth that then become perfect hiding places for the bacteria that cause gum disease and decay due to incorrect movement of the toothbrush, not enough time spent brushing, or simply missing certain hard-to-reach areas.

The Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige toothbrush is equipped with and Sense-IQ, an AI-powered brushing companion that guides your brushing to ensure even, equal coverage for all areas of the mouth and decreases the chance of neglecting areas. The AI also changes the intensity of the vibration and warns you with an LED and tactile alert if you are pushing too hard or scrubbing too much.

Is it true that electric is better suited to lazy brushers?

With all else being equal, a lazy brusher will get better hygiene outcomes with a good quality electric toothbrush compared to a manual toothbrush.

I heard that we should limit rinsing after brushing and simply spit, true?

That’s correct! While the brushing itself removes plaque and food particles stuck to the surface of the teeth, the contribution of your toothpaste to good dental health is the fluoride in it which gets incorporated into the surface of the tooth and increases its acid resistance, making the tooth surface harder than without the use of fluoride. Fluoride from toothpaste needs at least 15 min of contact with the tooth surface to confer this hardening effect and rinsing straight away flushes out the fluoride before it can provide that protective benefit.

The smarts in electric toothbrushes are adding new capabilities, how important is that?

Being a dentist and seeing the effects of poor dental health on the lives of my patients is incredibly motivating to me to get the word out there that life is better with healthy teeth. Once your adult teeth come through between 6 and 13, that’s what you’ve got for the rest of your life.

Smart electric toothbrushes, such as the Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige with Sense IQ and the companion Sonicare app have the capability to not only provide you with a superior cleaning experience but can correct human error in brushing technique.

Everyone has their own routine, what is THE ideal routine for good dental hygiene?

Eating food and drinking substances other than water leaves the outermost layer of your teeth in a temporary state of vulnerability for about 30 minutes until your saliva naturally restores the hardness of your enamel by neutralising the acids in the food or drink we have consumed. This means that if you brush straight after eating then you are more likely to scrub away your enamel! The best routine is to brush as soon as you wake up, 30min before breakfast and to brush at least 30min after dinner.

It’s dealer’s choice as to whether you floss in the morning or at night, but it’s best to floss before you brush as the toothbrushing action will help to remove the debris that was removed from between your teeth during the flossing. But what about bad breath from the food you’ve just eaten? If you are visiting your dentist for regular cleaning, using a good toothbrush twice a day and flossing once a day, your breath does not smell, even after eating, because you have a much lower concentration of the harmful bacteria that cause bad breath.

Mouthwash is not essential to oral care routine unless recommended by your dentist for a specific purpose and may be unnecessarily introducing alcohol into your oral environment.

Thinking you need a new toothbrush?

The Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige has been doing a great job of shining up and cleaning my teeth as we nervously emerge from lockdown. If you want a helping hand in between visits to the dentist, the Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige is available in two colour options with an RRP of $498.99 and is available now.