Dental 101: Celebrity Dentist Dr. Banker Answers Your FAQ's About Teeth

We get so many questions from our readers about how to keep their pearly whites pristine, so we tapped celebrity dentist Dr. Banker to give us the 411 on all your FAQ's: 

We focus so much on brushing and whitening, what else is crucial to a white smile?

There are many important things that can be done at home to improve and maintain the overall health of the teeth and gums, which leads to a whiter smile.  Flossing is the number one thing that can keep your smile healthy and bright.  Flossing removes bacteria and build up between the teeth and under the gums, which can contribute to stains and inflammation of the gums.  Mouthwash is another great way to keep teeth and gums healthy. There are many different kinds available.  Ask your dentist or hygienist for a recommendation that would be the right choice for you.  They will likely recommend something antibacterial such as Listerine, or something anti-cavity with extra fluoride, such as ACT.

How important is flossing?

I always tell my patients that flossing is just as important as brushing! Flossing removes food and build up from the areas where a toothbrush simply can't reach.  These are key areas where early gum disease can be detected, and proper cleaning can really only be achieved with floss. Food and bacteria between teeth contributes to cavities.  When asked if flossing is important, I always say, "only floss the ones you want to keep!"

Is mouthwash with alcohol beneficial or detrimental?

Alcohol acts as a solvent and helps carry the antibacterial ingredients to penetrate plaque more easily.  These are essential oils such as menthol, eucalyptol, and thymol, and these are the real germ-fighters.  I usually recommend diluting mouthwash (SLIGHTLY) in a 90/10 or 80/20 ratio with water.  This does not take away from the beneficial properties of the oils but dilutes the alcohol.  This allows a person to rinse for the recommended amount of time, minimizing the burning sensation and increasing the effectiveness of the antibacterial ingredients. 

When should we throw out our mouthwash and replace it? 

Mouthwash should come with an expiration date, and it is not recommended to use it past this date because it will lose it effectiveness.  If you actually kept a bottle that long, you really should use it more!  Grab a new bottle if you are unsure!

Look out for Part Two of our dental FAQ's  with Dr. Banker tomorrow!

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