Week of:
Jan 25, 2019

Why do I have to brush my teeth?!

Dear Alice,

My mom was a working single mother as a kid. I never learned a lot of basic hygiene skills because we didn't have a regular routine (I'm 19, but only learned how to shower correctly a few years ago and how to take care of my hair last year). I've been catching up on a lot of these habits, but there's one I just can't stick... tooth-brushing. I'm extremely lucky — I have straight, even teeth (though I never had braces), no visible discoloration (even though I drink coffee and tea regularly), and for some reason my breath rarely smells bad (unless I eat something pungent). I get compliments on my smile all the time! But because I'm so lucky, I find it really hard to motivate myself to brush and floss every night/morning. After all, if my teeth look and smell fine, why bother? I'm pretty sure that this can't be good for me, even if my teeth seem healthy. Can you give me some solid facts on why tooth-brushing is important so I can remind myself why I need to do it?



Is tongue brushing necessary?

Dear Alice,

Here's a question I have been debating with a friend for a while, and seeing as how I'm not scheduled to go to the dentist again for a while, I thought you could shed some light on the issue: when brushing one's teeth, should one also brush one's tongue? I would think yes, because what's the point of brushing germs off teeth if the tongue still has them there, and will transfer them to the teeth as soon as you're done brushing. My friend thinks it makes absolutely no difference. So does it matter? We have an ice cream wagered on this one! I hope I'm right!

What should I look for in mouthwash?

Dear Alice,

I've been trying to take better care of my teeth lately (as a general health thing, not because my dentist says I'm in trouble or anything) and so I started using mouthwash after I brush. But I'm confused about what it actually does. If I get a kind with lots of alcohol (which bothers me) it seems like it's supposed to kill germs and keep bad breath away. But in the alcohol-free ones, there's a huge variety: freshening, fluoride, anti-plaque... What is the point of mouthwash supposed to be? What should I be looking for?

curious mouthwasher

How to floss?

Dear Alice,

I'm not exactly sure how to floss properly. I don't really know how to get between every single tooth in my mouth.