Brush with Greatness
One of the exciting new ways that you can brush your teeth is actually an old one: the miswak. The miswak or chew stick has been used traditionally to clean teeth since time immemorial. You just cut off the end, soak it, chew it and it forms bristles that you can then brush with. You don’t need toothpaste–it has natural antibiotic properties that means it works about as well as your average toothbrush and toothpaste combination. The downside is that it isn’t as cheap as you’d like. The sticks are cut from a special “toothbrush tree” that isn’t too common here in Westchester County. You can get a dual pack for about $15, and each stick lasts about 20 days. That comes out to $135, over ten times what you’d spend replacing a $3 toothbrush on schedule.
But if you’re looking for a new electric toothbrush, consider the Issa by Foreo. The comfortably plump handle of this powered toothbrushes is topped with a completely silicone head, which the company claims lasts about a year before it needs to be replaced. The company also claims this helps it remove plaque more effectively and prevents contamination. The brush is certainly stylish, and it comes in four snazzy colors (with four splashier colors available for the “mini”). And they’re really a bargain at $200.
But the creme de la creme of fancy toothbrushes: the Reinast. This toothbrush is made of titanium (the same stuff as dental implants), and is designed to last a lifetime. Instead of replacing the toothbrush, you replace the brush heads every three months, and for the first three years, these are included in the cost. Although its svelte design is ostensibly inspired by the miswak, it is decidedly feminine, bearing more than a passing resemblance to a beach babe bottle opener (though, I suppose, if you want to be generous, you might cite a similarity to Cycladic art). The cost for this work of hygienic art: $4300. On the plus side, it does come with free brush replacements for the first three years, though after that it will cost about $150 a year to get replacement brushes.
The Terror from Beyond Paste
Now that you’ve got your fancy toothbrushes, you’re going to need toothpaste (unless you’re using a miswak, which is seeming like a much better investment compared to that Reinast). Fortunately, there are some swanky toothpaste options out there that you can pair with your new stylish toothbrush.
In fact, one of them comes with its own toothpaste. The Black Is White system comes with an activated charcoal toothpaste. The paste is very black, but it claims to whiten your teeth. There’s no good evidence that activated charcoal actually whitens your teeth–and it’s certainly less effective than teeth whitening at our office–but it’s a cool gimmick, and at least it’s easier than trying to make your own activated charcoal paste–it comes with fluoride. Probably more effective at whitening is the hydrosonic toothbrush, which is also elegantly black, though the branding interferes with the style more than somewhat. The cost for this system is $260, which includes the toothbrush, two heads, and one tube of toothpaste. Just want the toothpaste? It costs $22.00 for a small tube.
Many “upscale” toothpastes market on flavor and style, and they actually aren’t that expensive (Marvis, for example, which comes in flavors like amarelli licorice or jasmin mint, or Hello, which comes in grapefruit or mojito mint), running around $5 a tube. You can even get quality vegan toothpastes for under $10. Most really expensive toothpastes seem to come and go–they offer few benefits so they get stylish and then passe and disappear.
Right now, the so-called most expensive toothpaste is Theodent 300, which, no, doesn’t cost $300. You can get a tube for the bargain price of just $100. It’s chocolate flavor, but apparently not pleasantly so. And it doesn’t have fluoride, so, there’s that.
Good Oral Hygiene Only Costs Time and Toil
But if you’re not prepared to splash out on these fancy toothbrushing options, here’s good news: most of the toothbrushes and toothpastes that you can pick up at the Super Stop & Shop work great. What really matters is that you are taking the time and effort to really brush and floss properly. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes and floss daily before bed.