The idea of going to the dentist can be terrifying - the clinical smell, the childhood memories and the fear of fillings and drilling is enough to put anyone off.
But advice on teeth care and high-level cleaning services is exactly how to prevent plaque build-up and gum disease. And who doesn't want pearly whites?
This week I braved it and went for a hygienist appointment at London dental practice Elleven.
A pre-consultation with Dr Peta Leigh in the luxurious surroundings of one of the practice rooms immediately put me at ease. I felt like I was in a swanky London hotel suite and I wanted teeth as amazing as hers asap.
I asked Peta a few need-to-know questions ahead of my appointment on why hygiene sessions at the dentist are so important. Read her expert advice on keeping teeth and gums healthy below:
How often should we be having hygiene check-ups?
You should aim to have a hygiene check-up every six months, although some people benefit from more regular hygiene sessions.
Dental health is extremely important to your confidence and wellbeing.
How many times a day should we be brushing? What brushes/ toothpaste do you recommend?
You should brush your teeth 2-3 times a day for at least two minutes at a time.
For the best cleaning, I recommend using an electric toothbrush with a small head. It is advisable to use any fluoride containing toothpaste and for those who suffer from dental erosion, it is best to use a toothpaste with calcium silicate and sodium phosphate to regenerate enamel.
Why has teeth whitening become such a beauty trend?
In many cases, the desire for whiter teeth is fuelled by celebrities, all who seem to have perfect white, bright, smiles.
Whiter teeth have long been associated with perceived health, attractiveness and socio-economic class (proven by research undertaken by social scientist Malcolm Gladwell), so it is natural that many people are in pursuit of whiter and brighter teeth.
Teeth whitening is also one of the most cost effective long term beauty treatments around and the benefits cannot be underestimated.
What does tooth whitening involve?
Professionally supervised tooth whitening involves the application of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide gel onto the tooth surface allowing it to penetrate the enamel and dentine layers and improve the optical properties of the tooth, so it appears whiter.
Is private dentistry better than the NHS?
The biggest difference is usually the time your dentist will spend during the assessment and examination phase and then tailoring treatment to your specific needs.
Often there will be a much higher focus on cosmetic results, prevention and maintenance. Choosing between NHS andrivate treatment is often about how important it is that you are predominant part of the initial treatment planning process, rather than primarily a recipient of services.
What food and drink do you recommend avoiding to maintain good dental hygiene?
Soft, sticky and sugary foods are the main culprits of rapid plaque formation which causes gingivitis.
What's great about this specialist dental and orthodontics practice is that it offers Direct Access Hygiene. This means that even if you're not an Elleven patient, you can make an appointment with their hygienists.
After talking through my dental history Peta made a start on de-plaquing my teeth with some pretty heavy duty, state of the art dentistry kit.
Uncomfortable? A little, but definitely worth it. After a good 40 minute session my teeth felt brand new and were the shiniest I've ever seen them.
And yes, I will be booking a hygienist appointment every six months from now.
A hygienist appointment at Elleven costs £96 and you can book yourself a treatment online here.
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