‘I’m a Cosmetic Dentist, and This Is My 5-Step Nightly Oral Care Routine’

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Your nightly oral care routine deserves an upgrade. Without a plan of action, you're setting yourself up for cavities, bad breath and more. With time, poor oral hygiene leads to periodontal disease with tooth mobility and tooth loss.

In order to maintain a healthy smile, San Francisco-based cosmetic dentist Sophya N. Morghem, DMD, MS, follows five steps for her nightly oral care routine. Consistency is the name of the game. "Sticking to a nightly routine reduces the chances of forgetting to floss or forgetting to pop in your retainer," she says.

A cosmetic dentist's 5-step nightly oral care routine

1. Rinse

"I’m not a fan of rinsing with anything other than warm salt water with sensitive gums, and I do this as the first step of my night time routine," says Dr. Morghem.

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2. Brush

nightly oral care routine

"I grab my Sonicare DiamondClean Electric Toothbrush ($200)," she says. "The compact head is great for getting the hard-to-reach areas, like the back of the upper molars. It is also great for people who have a strong gag reflex."

"For toothpaste, I use a non-whitening ADA-approved brand with fluoride. I spit after use without rinsing," says Dr. Morghem. "I say non-whitening because it's less abrasive. I usually go between Sensodyne Pronamel ($10 for 2) and Crest with Scope ($6 for 3). If I’m whitening, I’m using the Sensodyne and make sure not to rinse after brushing. This allows the potassium nitrate to have a longer effect at reducing tooth sensitivity."

3. Floss

nightly oral care routine

"Next, I grab my Cocofloss ($25 for 3) and floss in the mirror, making sure I get to each tooth without skipping one," says Dr. Morghem. "I love this floss because it will stretch thin to get between tight areas, but then becomes thick and loofa-like to cleanse the sides of the teeth, removing plaque and debris. I get sick of mint, so I usually grab strawberry or orange-flavored."

4. Tongue cleaner

nightly oral care routine

"I always use a tongue cleaner," she says. "I really like the ease and use of the BreathRx cleaner ($13)."

5. Retainer

nightly oral care routine

"Now it's time to pop in my Invisalign Vivera retainers," says Dr. Morghem. "They help prevent my teeth from shifting, relapsing after the Invisalign treatment, and act as a night guard to prevent wear on my teeth at night if I’m grinding or clenching. Though it’s not a nighttime routine, I make sure to clean these retainers first thing in the morning with a separate toothbrush, soap, and water. It keeps them lasting longer and prevents the funky plaque and tartar buildup over time."

"My retainers are also my whitening trays," she says. "I like to do touch-up whitening for a day or two every 6 to 12 months, depending. My favorite whitening gel is Opalescence Whitening Gel Syringes ($60 for 8 syringes)."

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