Dentist secrets revealed

Ever wondered how to keep your teeth healthy for life?

Dr Mike Reilly from Pacific Smiles in Jesmond, shares the tricks of the trade.

Who would really win in a battle between a manual and electric toothbrush? What’s so special about fluoride? And what do dentists really do to keep their teeth sparkling for life? We sat down with Dr Mike Reilly from Pacific Smiles in Jesmond, NSW and picked his brain for the answers to all of your burning questions.

What is your personal routine for healthy teeth? 

Keep it simple. I brush 30 minutes after eating breakfast and just before bed. This way the fluoride in my toothpaste has a chance to work its magic. I use a mouthwash (with fluoride) when I need a quick freshen up after meals. And I only floss the teeth I want to keep!

Why is it so important to see the dentist every six months?

It’s no different to servicing a classic car you plan on having for your whole life. You need to spot little issues before the ‘engine blows’. Six to twelve monthly checks ‘under the bonnet’ could save you a lot of bother and saves money in the long run. Plus, it’s about more than just your teeth. We check lymph nodes and soft tissues (for cancer) jaw joints (for grinding) and airways (for sleep apnoea) to ensure your overall heath is in good check. 

Does a dentist…. see the dentist?

I see my dentist every morning when I open my eyes, and she’s last thing I see before I fall asleep. She’s my wife!

Manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush?

It’s an age-old debate. I personally think it’s not the tool you use for the job, but your technique and how you use it. The majority of the population find they get a far superior clean with some power in their brush. I have a Phillips Sonicare, and my wife an Oral B Professional.

What are some of the most surprising things you can tell us about how to keep your teeth strong and healthy?

  1. Don’t eat, drink, or rinse for 30mins after brushing your teeth. A lot of people rinse with water after brushing which just washes off the protective fluoride. Think of toothpaste as a daily medication for your teeth.
  2. Your saliva is very clever and contains something called Immunoglobulin A. This helps protect your mouth and teeth from bacteria. If you develop a dry mouth, you may require more fluoride in your toothpaste to counteract this.
  3. Your super saliva can neutralise harmful acids in the mouth. It takes 20 minutes to fight the acid caused by sugary foods. This is why the frequency of eating/drinking sugary things is more important than the quantity. If you have to have a sugary drink, have it with a meal, don’t sip it throughout the day!
  4. Eating dairy foods after a meal, such as a cheese board, will help protect your teeth from the harmful acids produced by the bacteria living on your teeth. Unfortunately, vanilla ice-cream doesn’t count!
  5. Be aware of hidden sugars! Do yourself a favour and watch That Sugar Film by Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau.

What’s more important… brushing or flossing?

If you only did one of these things for the rest of your life you’d have to go with brushing. The toothpaste not only makes a lather to help lift plaque but fluoride helps in three ways –

it’s an antibacterial, it has numerous benefits for children whose adult teeth are developing (strengthening the internal structure of enamel and making it more resistant to decay) and it can repair and remineralise your teeth if you have weakened enamel. Bonus tip? Don’t just floss, use interdental brushes as well. These ‘mini bottle brush’ sticks such as Piksters are great at removing all those nasty bits that your brush can’t reach in-between your teeth.

What’s the most important thing to do for your teeth as you get older? 

Don’t just assume that if your teeth have generally been okay, they’ll continue that way. People can start getting tooth decay later in life as certain medications can create a dry mouth. Teeth can develop cracks due to grinding and can become loose from gum disease which you may not be aware of. Get your teeth checked on a regular basis even if you think they’re in good condition, and ask your dentist what your personal risk factors are, over time. 

What do you love about being a dentist?

Apart from getting free toothpaste? Meeting an array of people from all walks of life, hearing their stories and building a history of who that person is. Then being able to implement this knowledge to tailor the best treatment for that individual.

What’s the secret to having beautiful white teeth?

Definitely don’t buy ‘grills’ or ‘snap on smiles’ from an internet pop up ad, or get duped into forking out for new fads like coconut oil pulling and charcoal toothpaste. If you’re with a health fund, your cover may provide a no-gap six-monthly check-up, scale and polish at Pacific Smiles Dental to keep your teeth in great shape. If you feel the need, ask for some teeth whitening to really boost the internal shade of your pearly whites. 

Want teeth that look as good as a dentist’s? Visit to find your nearest centre and make an appointment. With numerous locations offering a comprehensive range of services, you’re guaranteed to find the exceptional care and expertise you deserve.

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