Your Dental Hygiene Re-Up


Surprise! Today is your dental hygiene audit. Don't fret, this is routine. Take 5-10 minutes this evening to gather up your current oral cleaning situation, place it comfortably in an armchair across from you, and cross-examine it for efficacy and performance. Are your expectations being met? Are you wanting for more? Please be critical.

Maybe you're complacent with whatever outfit you have going on. "I've used the same Arm and Hammer Advanced White Toothpaste and Oral-B Brush in my favorite color—pea green—for as long as I can remember, and it works for me, and everything is fine." If this sounds like your inner monologue, then sorry to tell you, but you are living in a fantasy world of your own creation. How is the weather there?

I once lived like you; in Plato's cave, with my Crest toothpaste duct-taped to my dominant brushing hand. But since my freshman year of college, when I started buying toothpaste for myself instead of stealing my parents, there have been so many advancements in tooth tech that it is crazy to me. Powder pastes! Silicone brushes! Gum gel! I have been awakened. In the event you don't pass your dental hygiene audit tonight—which is mandatory for anybody who reads this site, so don't even think about skipping it—think of it it not as a failure, but an opportunity to upgrade. Consider the following:

Sorry for shading Crest in the above paragraph! As far as drugstore-available toothpaste goes, Crest Pro-Health is as good a standby as any, especially for those of us with sensitive teeth. Plus you're left with that squeaky clean chalkboard sensation. But Crest contains stannous flouride, a cavity protectant that's safe to use but raises flags for some. If that's you, allow me to point you to Dr. Bronner's All-One Toothpaste which is formulated with baking soda and coconut oil as cleansing agents. And it comes in Cinnamon, for autumn vibes.

There's also Plaque HD, which is the toothpaste for the logicians among us. You brush with it per usual and then spit without rinsing, and then smile, because you now have deep blue green indicators wherever plaque is hanging out on your teeth. A great daily toothpaste, but if you can't part with whatever you've already committed to, it also makes a fine weekly treatment for self-evaluation.

No more single-packaged dentist freebies, because Quip is here, and it's all you need in a toothbrush and more. Quip sells their product in kits, complete with a low-fluoride toothpaste and changeable brush heads, but the brush itself is the real MVP. It's designed like a regular toothbrush—unlike some of the crazier, clunkier electric versions, which I will get to—with a vibrating function, so the sensation is just... your toothbrush, but better, stronger, sleeker. It's the toothbrush your current toothbrush worries about.

For a few extra bucks, you can level up to the Foreo Issa, which resembles a sex toy both in its silicone composition and its eagerness to please. It's totally customizable, from the vibration speed to one of several alternate brushheads, and silicone is more sanitary and gentler on teeth and gums than traditional nylon bristles (although those are an option, too). It also pulses every 30 seconds, which tells you when to move on to the next section of your mouth—four sections, two minutes. Just your casual, pulsating, vibrating, 6-inch toothbrush.

This is a reminder to take care of your gums, and flossing is one of the best ways to do just that. There is no chic way to floss, unless you use spun gold exclusively, so go ahead and buy 200 yards of this.

GELS (!)
This is your second reminder to take care of your gums. But unlike floss, Apa Pink Oral Gel for Daily Gum Care is easy to use, pleasant, and very chic. (Dr. Michael Apa, who developed the product line, is Rachel Roy's dentist, FYI.) The taste is clinical fresh, like you just got your teeth cleaned. Think of it as a twice daily gum mask that calms and fortifies with vitamin E, cucumber extract, and peppermint oil.

Back to teeth for a second: In the research stage of this story, my coworker Jessica alerted me to Livionex Dental Gel, the preferred toothpaste of Jen Atkin's best friend James Dyson. A double blind study at UC Irvine put Livionex up against Colgate and participants reported a 260% reduction in plaque, which is insane. The product itself is a lightweight, non-foaming, virtually tasteless gel that delivers far beyond expectations. It's 20 bucks, but I'm addicted to it. Pry it from my cold, dead, pearly teeth.

The hardest sell, but too good not to include is Fig and Yarrow's Toothpaste Powder. It's about as holistic a toothpaste as you can get, using baking soda, kaolin clay, and sea salt to cleanse effectively. It didn't quite deliver that squeaky-clean feeling for me, but it does the job with a stellar ingredient list. And because it's a powder you apply to a wet toothbrush, the tiny bottle goes a long way. Fig and Yarrow also makes a clean mouthwash that is sensational when used in concert with the powder. Not as sensational as a toothbrush that works like a sex toy, but close.

—Brennan Kilbane

Photographed by Tom Newton.

Next up: ITG's definitive guide to beauty supplements, from A to zinc.