I told you guys last week I went to my dentist, yes during a pandemic. Why the rush? Several reasons but the biggest one is that I have a permanent retainer glued to my bottom teeth (I will always be kind of my awkward twelve year old self) and when I don’t go to the dentist regularly, it is really painful to take care of. And it felt really safe, honestly. They had added machines to clean the air in the room and the whole place was sanitized within an inch of its life.
But I know a lot of you aren’t going to get to a dentist any time soon or maybe you (like me) are subject to paying out of pocket for a cleaning, which runs about $150 a pop, so I grilled my hygienist Lila for you. To be honest I almost never see the actual dentist there (which saves me time and money) unless there is something to check. Often times a dentist will recommend procedures like whitening to actors too…and if I am already paying my cleaning bill with my unemployment card, let’s just say that’s off the table ya know? Enter Lila. Not only is she hysterical (idk if she knows this though because she says the most bluntly honest and funny things while her hands are in your mouth so you can’t laugh) but she is super forthcoming with tips and advice. She also gives a complimentary gum massage at the end of your cleaning but I digress.
No waxed floss. I know, this took me a second too. Apparently tiny tiny pieces of wax can get stuck between your teeth, so when you think you’re keeping things clean with floss, you’re actually leaving behind deposits. Gross. So this is the prescribed floss from Lila. ALSO adding in these little guys (along with flossing) can make a major difference, especially if you have a shit load of teeth crammed into your mouth (once again, me).
I (like many of you fellow anxious actors) spent a lot of my life over-brushing my teeth. Turns out that’s bad…still mad no one told me that when I was twelve. So I now have slight gum recession and some sensitivity. I also want to keep my overly expensive childhood orthodontia white AF, which is hard because most things that whiten your teeth also come with massive side effects. We’ll get to the specific whiteners in a sec, but first toothpaste: Arm and Hammer Sensitive in the AM and Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Teeth Whitening Enamel Toothpaste in the PM. This combo is important because the morning mix has some baking soda in the ingredients but it won’t annihilate your enamel. And the PM pick actually has special stuff to help with those sensitive spots. Lila even suggests dabbing a tiny bit on any specific stops of gum recession after you finish your full oral regimen at night. Love a multi-tasker.
Ok this one is the most expensive thing I have yet recommended. I used basically all of my birthday Amazon gift card (its about $200). This was not pushed on me at the doctors office at all, in fact they said I was ok with my Quip toothbrush, as long as I didn’t continue over brushing or using too. much pressure. I mean, much like my want to eat peanut butter with a spoon at every available opportunity, some things never change. So I made the big purchase. This Philips Sonicare is the one most often sold by dentists (according to my research…aka a quick Google) and I think it is worth the dollars. It is blue-toothed to my iPhone (i know) and in the app it leads you through brushing, tells you when you’re pushing too hard or moving too much, reminds you to buy brush-heads, and a lot of other cool shit I haven’t figured out yet. It also charges in this glass cup instead of an ugly charger, which is just a nice plus. I have only had it for a week now but I feel a lot less concerned about my constant rampant over-brushing.
All that above is the best way to take care of your mouth, hands down. And if the internet tells us anything, it’s that white teeth don’t exactly equal healthy teeth, but if it tells us anything as actors, it’s that white is bookable. UGH. Ok so how can we do this safely without a massive price tag? Our gem Lila gave me the secret: buy the Crest White Strips 21 Day pack. Make sure it is not the shorter timed packs, these are super intense and too much for your (soon to be) pearly whites. Now the trick here is you do a set of 30 min strips every other day. The pack will say daily, but if you don’t want to cry sipping an ice coffee (maybe that’s just me) save yourself the grief and skip a day in between. If you still have any pain or sensitivity at all, you can skip two days between! They will still whiten your teeth, just at a longer more sustainable rate.
Here are a few of my other mouth-savers, not Lila recommended but I am sure she would approve. I use this mouthwash to help my enamel and keep me from scrubbing my teeth in between bushings. I also use a tongue scrapper every morning. It’s incredibly satisfying (albeit slightly disgusting) and makes my breath consistently better. Ayurveda folks think this is a health game changer….idk about that but it’s pretty fun. Also, I stopped chewing gun years ago and rarely buy mints, I prefer peppermint oil like this one. 1-2 drops on my tongue not only freshen breath for hours but it has weirdly helped whenever I have a stomach ache or eat a large meal. I carry it in my purse at all times. Also…in a pinch it can be perfume or deodorant. Just sayin.