There are certain things in life that are so ugly they’re beautiful, or so ugly they’re cute. (The French call it jolie laide; the Japanese, busakawa.) Think of bulldogs, bumpy noses — or Birkenstocks. This week, we’re celebrating the faces that only a mother could love. Welcome to Fugly Week on the Strategist.
Unsatisfied with our manual brushes, my husband and I recently decided to enter the 21st century of oral hygiene: We were buying sonic toothbrushes. Sure, we could have bought the immensely popular Sonicare, with the slim shaft and pocket-size charger. Or the high-end Apa Beauty Clean White, which smacks of modern elegance (well, apart from looking a bit like a designer vibrator). But instead, I snagged two Auras (they were on sale), before realizing that their main selling point — a super-techy base that charges the brush upside down and both sanitizes (with UV light) and dries the bristles — meant that these things were huge. And bulky. And wide. Especially two of them, side by side, with their clunky wall adapters and cords tangled together.
But the payoff has been just as big: The 40,0000-stroke-per-minute sonic contraption leaves my teeth and gums feeling so satisfyingly, professionally clean, I actually skipped a couple dental appointments (don’t judge). When I finally got around to going, my dentist seemed inordinately happy with the state of my chompers. (I didn’t even get the flossing lecture.)
Yes, the Aura possesses a basic ugliness; it’s designed to look like a space station — cool if you’re a fifth-grader, maybe? — complete with an unsubtle, Star Trek–y celestial logo on the front. (The company also sells an “orbital face brush,” if you likewise want to clean your mug with something resembling an alien spaceship.) But after learning just how nasty exposed, sink-dwelling toothbrushes can be, I take immense satisfaction in knowing that mine spends its days chilling inside a vast sanitizing chamber, safe from flying particles of what have you. In fact, the vaster, the better.
Writer Jen Doll found a toothpaste that whitens without harming delicate enamel: “Unlike traditional whitening toothpastes that use peroxide, Opalescence removes surface stains (up to two shades in a month) by scrubbing them away with silica. But — and this is key — it’s not so abrasive that you can’t use it every day.” Read more about the best whitening toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
Strategist senior editor Jason Chen swears by this Crest Whitestrips alternative for whiter teeth: “The box tells you to keep the gel on for 5 minutes, but I’ve pushed it to 15 without the achy tooth sensitivity I get from Whitestrips. Plus White whitens using hydrogen peroxide, which removes both surface and intrinsic stains with a bleach-like effect that shouldn’t be overdone.” Read more about the best speed whitening gel.
Writer Elizabeth Gumport chews on these toothpick-like sticks to stimulate gums: “ADA-recognized as gingivitis preventers, the little toothpick-like devices are especially handy if you have any spaces between your teeth that are too big for floss to navigate effectively. I actually use Stim-U-Dents in addition to flossing, which I consider a spa treatment for my mouth and also one of my most beloved pastimes.” Read more about the best plaque-removing sticks.
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