A dental hygienist has shared her top tips on saving money on dental care - including sharing your toothbrush. Jessica O’Connor also recommended using supermarket toothpaste because it’s “exactly the same” as more expensive brands.
The 31-year-old, who appeared on Married at First Sight UK last year, said you only need to spend £50 per year on dental hygiene. Families can save cash by sharing an electric toothbrush as a household, with each member having their own removable head.
Jess recommended buying supermarket own brand toothbrush heads and there is no need to splash out on heads that match the brush body. She also claims toothpastes with fluoride in are "exactly the same" - so opt for the cheap ones.
Always opt for an electric toothbrush over a manual one, said Jess, who also tells her patients to ditch mouthwash altogether. Jess, from Cambridgeshire, said: "All my patients are advised to get an electric toothbrush.
"The difference between manual and electric is the difference between a broom and a hoover. Electric is so much more effective.
“Of course, I understand everyone is struggling for money, so a great way to cut down on costs is just to get one toothbrush - there’s always one on offer - and then buy multiple heads. When you buy a pack of four heads they all come with a different coloured band at the bottom, and you can also buy different toothbrush head protectors so you can all share the toothbrush body."
Reinforcing the message to use separate toothbrush heads, Jess said. "Everyone has to have their own heads," she said.
"It’s just not hygienic to share, and no one will want to share the same ones anyway. But you don’t need really expensive branded heads to match the toothbrush - I would just buy cheap own-brand heads from the supermarket.
"Just wipe down the toothbrush after use to clean off any toothpaste." There is also no need to shell out on expensive products according to Jess, who recommended cheap own-brand versions for toothpaste and floss.
She said the most important ingredient to look for is fluoride. She said: "In regards to using a toothpaste, they are all exactly the same as long as it has fluoride in it - you don’t need to spend £8 on it.
"The fluoride is to strengthen your teeth so it’s really key." The second step of routine should be a good floss - and mouthwash isn’t necessary.
Jess went on: "The other thing that I would always encourage people to use in a dental routine is something to clean in between the teeth, whether this be floss or interdental brushes. You don’t have to get the big brand names - you can just get like Tesco own brand or Superdrug - it’s all the same thing.
"To be honest, I would advise just not to use mouthwash, to save your money. The way to keep your mouth clean is to get rid of plaque, so if you’re brushing correctly and cleaning the teeth there shouldn’t be any plaque there, and mouthwash doesn’t remove it as such anyway.
"So really, you can just brush and floss and have a really healthy mouth and not need to spend your money on mouthwash." For people who want to keep their smile bright, Jessica said this simple routine should keep teeth clean and stain-free.
She said: "All the good electric toothbrushes nowadays have something called a pressure sensor. That helps with maintaining the correct pressure and it also helps keep your teeth white.
"If you put too much pressure on with a manual toothbrush it’s actually thinning the enamel and the underneath layer, called the dentin, which is the yellow or brown colour of the tooth. So the harder you’re brushing the thinner the enamel and the more yellow your teeth are going to get.
"Just use nice gentle pressure or an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor to keep teeth nice and white." Although Jess said dental check ups can be expensive for people trying to cut down on costs, she emphasised how important they are.
"It is really, really important to go and have your dental check up. Not only are we there just looking at your teeth, but we do like oral cancer checks, and we can tell so much by someone’s mouth like detecting HIV and diabetes.
"There’s so many general health issues that can be detected in the mouth that you necessarily wouldn’t be aware of. So having your routine check up is super, super important. I understand it is expensive, but in the long run, it is better to go and have your general check to prevent health issues that you might not be aware of.
“A lot of dentists now have started up dental plans where you pay to get two dental check ups and two hygiene visits a year, which actually works out cheaper than if you were paying privately, at about £8 per session so it might be worth speaking to your dentist and seeing if they are signed up."
Jess’s cheap dental hygiene recommendations
- Any electric toothbrush on a half-price sale - e.g. Oral-B Vitality Cross Action Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, currently £25 half price at Boots
- Asda own brand floss: 80p for 40m
- Tesco own brand toothpaste: 60p for 100ml
Jessica shares further tips through her TikTok and Instagram accounts @jesspotter_xx.