It was only a matter of time before the once prosaic category of teeth was given a glow up, because haven’t you’ve heard, tending to teeth – brushing, flossing, gargling – is now considered part of the self-care boom. In 2020, trend forecasting site Mintel even reported that British women spend 11 per cent more a month on their teeth than their skincare.
Toothpastes no longer just come out of a tube, ready to kill bacteria and fight fetid breath, they also come in tablet form and can anti-age teeth, eradicate stains and strengthen enamel. Similarly, there are toothbrushes now that rely on AI to heighten oral hygiene. Ones that are ‘smart’, have motion and pressure sensors, and screen displays worthy of Teslas. Unsurprisingly, according to marketing firm Grand View Research, the global oral care market is expected to reach nearly $41 billion by 2025, an increase from $28 billion in 2017.
It’s long been a stock joke that Britons have bad teeth. Grimaces exposing a graveyard of decaying stones, protruding unevenly with moss and debris at their foot. And while it's not a fact, in comparison to the pearlescent, uniform pillars of, say, the States, there is some truth. It's the reason so many of us are so keen to modify our mouths, be it with straightening, whitening or bonding – and in spite of the gap-toothed celebrity pinups and gorgeous but gnarly Gucci campaigns thrusting 'normal' smiles into the spotlight.
The brief however, has changed. “People want to have their teeth treated but they don’t want anyone to know what they’ve had done,” says cosmetic dentist and owner of Chelsea Dental Clinic Dr Rhona Eskander. “I push the notion of embracing imperfections. This could mean keeping a gap also known as a diastema, or keeping a slightly flared lateral incisor. It’s the perfectly imperfect smile.”
Dr Eskander is part of the 84 per cent of dentists who, according to a 2021 British Orthodontic Society survey, saw a rise in adult patients in the last 12 months. That’s a whole lot of people goaded by Zoom, during a time where most people’s teeth were degenerating. Just think about the involuntary, anxiety-induced teeth grinding, the ceaseless consumption of sugary foods (and drinks), and the fact that without social engagements and offices, people weren’t brushing as regularly as recommended.
Yes, good teeth start at home, in our bathrooms, with two, two minute brushing sessions, regular flossing, and some audible gargling. And with the frequency with which we're required to do all three, it's just as well that new products are designed with oral health and the planet in mind, because yikes, the stats about the number of toothpaste tubes ending up in landfill (see below) is astounding.
Here's what to have on your radar:
Approximately 300 million tubes of toothpaste are sent to landfill in the UK every year. For that reason alone, these chewable tablets which come in a glass jar, are pretty great. Add to the mix hydroxyapatite, an ingredient that Dr Eskander says gives teeth “a glossy effect, and forms the building blocks of enamel,” and Vitamin E and Vitamin B12 and you’re onto a winner.
With a stainless steel cup to sip from, Waken’s alcohol-free mouthwashes are about as chic as they come. The bottles are eco-friendly aluminum, and the formulas, full of natural botanicals.
Good for teeth and gums, but terrible for the environment, floss, in all its plasticky, overly packaged obscurity, has had a make-over. With refillable cases and fully recyclable cartons, the sisters at the helm of Cocofloss, want to make something as perfunctory as flossing, both fruitful and fun.
If your teeth were paving slabs, and the bacteria between them, was moss and general weeds, then this would be the pressure washer, working tirelessly to dislodge and clean. Using water pressure and pulsations, it isn’t as zealous as a patio washer, but will reach where brushing and flossing can not.
If eating ice cream feels like you’re prodding a nerve with a needle, you need this. A stupidly sophisticated formula, it not only tempers pain in the short term, but rebuilds enamel – the loss of the substance that causes the discomfort – in the long term. “Tooth sensitivity is due to enamel loss, which exposes the dentine layer of the tooth and can lead to nerve pain. The cause of the enamel loss can vary. However, the main causes that can lead to tooth sensitivity are enamel erosion, tooth grinding (bruxism) and toothbrushing abrasion (bushing too hard),” says dental hygienist Megan Fairhall. “This formula forms a fresh supply of enamel minerals that wrap and integrate onto teeth, activating a cycle of enamel regeneration to deeply rescue the exposed dentinal tubules that lead to tooth sensitivity.”
Is an electric toothbrush really necessary? According to Dr Eskander, yes. “Most people don’t know how to brush their teeth properly. Electric toothbrushes are designed to ensure that you’re not over brushing your teeth, applying the right pressure and getting underneath the gum line. Being overzealous can cause abrasion which can lead to gum recession”. In fact, this independent study found that all electric toothbrushes trumped manual one.
For such a techy toothbrush, this is refreshingly simple to use. There’s a light that tells you when you’re brushing too hard, potentially damaging your gums, for starters. Next, AI technology will intuitively adapt the brushing mode – of which there are five – to ensure optimum oral health. One, Deep Clean, makes teeth ludicrously and lickably clean, but there's also Clean, the default, White+, Gum Health and Sensitive. Connect the brush to your phone via the Sonicare app, and you’ll get real-time feedback about how good you may (or may not) be doing. And don’t worry if you’re not diligent with the app, because brushing data is tracked even when you don’t open it. Lastly, there’s an in-built charger in the sleek and chic case which is great for when you’re travelling.
Many toothbrush brands and models feel like much of a muchness; a variation on a theme. Well, FOREO does things differently, not only in how its products look (like they’re from the future) but also how they’re made (from silicone). This toothbrush, the latest in its Issa line, relies on sonic pulses and polymers, which ensures that while the brush is simultaneously tough on plaque, and soft on gums. There are 16 intensities, the back of the brush is designed to be used to clean your tongue and cheeks, and, perhaps most impressively, one hour’s worth of charge ensures 365 days of use.