Ask The Expert: Caring Your Pearlies
We invited Managing Director of Corlison/Pearlie White, Andy Ong, to discuss Singapore’s oral healthcare standards, as well as share tips on how not to lose our teeth.
Pearlie White® is the only home grown Singapore oral care brand and also the only brand that operates oral care manufacturing facilities in our country. The founders of the brand pride themselves on their strong family heritage that dates back to 1869 with the first practitioner of dentistry in Malaya, Dr Cheong Chun Tin, practicing in Singapore after obtaining his dentistry qualifications in San Francisco. Their family heritage was also featured in an episode of “My Grandfather’s Road”!
Naturally, we aim to be different from other oral care brands. You can see this from our toothpaste variants and how instead of adding a thousand bizarre names for combinations of ingredients that make no sense to consumers, we state clearly what ingredients in our toothpaste do. And on the same lines, we really listen to what consumers want. Like how when consumers buy food, they don’t want the stuff with artificial colouring, right? So we don’t have artificial colour or ingredients like titanium dioxide (used to make white paint white) in our toothpastes because they may make toothpaste look whiter but they don’t do anything for teeth.
So that’s the hardware. But the heartware is more important really.
Whenever I am asked to speak at an event, I always start off with a quiz. I always tell the audience that I will give them a million Singapore dollars on the spot if they get the answers right. They can even use their phones for research. You can give it a try too. No time limit. Ready, here it is:
- Name a Singapore owned brand.
- Whose products are made in Singapore.
- And which people around the world (say just 1% of the world population which is around 7 million people) use every single day.
And no the answer is not Pearlie White and there isn’t an answer. For now.
Qn: What is the target for Pearlie White?
We are the only Singapore oral care brand and the only oral care brand that still has manufacturing facilities in Singapore.
We represent the aspirations of Singapore. And here’s my stand on why it is important.
I mean everyone who comes to Singapore will know how modern, advanced, clean etc our country is. But a person can only see this when they visit our country. If not, we still get the occasional “which part of China is Singapore in” comment.
People around the world interact with other countries every day. We interact with Korea because we use their mobile phone brands and watch K-Pop and dramas, Japan/Germany because we drive their car makes, UK/Spain because we wear their clothing brands, Sweden because we sit and work on their furniture, Switzerland because we wear their watches, Thailand because we eat rice, USA because we use their software, Italy because we carry their handbags and wallets, France because we use their cosmetics, and of course, everything made in China. You get the picture.
I believe a country is great only when people across the world interact with your country every day. And that’s what we are trying to achieve for Singapore with Pearlie White.
Qn: How does Singapore fare with regards to oral health standards?
Extremely well because of several reasons including good education from young on the importance of oral hygiene, readily available and affordable basic dental health care, and finally the fact that our water in Singapore is fluoridated.
Consumers are also becoming more sophisticated in the types of oral care treatments they pursue. We note that especially in the last 3 years, more consumers in Singapore are going for higher value procedures like having implants done rather than dentures, or laser whitening procedures rather than just basic scaling and polishing.
Qn: Other than sugar (soft drinks), what other food is damaging to our teeth?
Being born in Singapore means we are all born foodies. We love food. So anytime we read an article telling us not to eat this or that, especially if it is something we love eating (I wish I could eat prata every day for every meal), we get irritated and depressed.
So I am not going to advise on what food will damage teeth but rather how to enjoy food without damaging your teeth. Just two very simple ways.
- Brush your teeth right after every meal or snack. As in right after, not two hours later after the movie ends or that drama serial marathon session.
- And also, if the item you are eating looks and feels hard, break it up with your hands first, not your teeth, before eating it.
Qn: Flossing is something that not everyone does, but how important is flossing for our teeth?
You know I hate those commercials that say using a mouthrinse can virtually clean 100% of your mouth. Because there is no dentist in the world that will advise you to just be lazy and use a mouth wash and forget about brushing or flossing.
So look, we are all time strapped especially in super-fast Singapore and spending time cleaning your teeth isn’t usually high on everyones’ “sense of accomplishment for the day” ranking.
So no matter what little time you have, remember to brush preferably after every meal and floss at least once a day or whenever you can.
Then visit your dentist once every 6 months so you can have a chat with her/him on your super stressful and fast pace of life in Singapore whilst he/she gives you a good teeth cleaning (plus handful of tips on how to relax) and helps remove all the stains and plaque that have accumulated from the times where your schedule did not allow you to brush/floss consistently.
Qn: There are usually 3 types of toothbrush; soft, medium, and hard. I heard that using a hard toothbrush can be damaging to our teeth. Is it true? How so? How do we go about choosing the right toothbrush?
Easy answer. Always use a soft toothbrush. A harder toothbrush or brushing harder, does not help you remove tough plaque or stains that have been there for months/years. A visit to the dentist though will fix that in minutes so do remember to do that.
There are a lot of opinions on what features make a good toothbrush like how long the bristles or how comfortable the handle etc. But the most important feature is that the toothbrush should be able to reach all tooth surfaces within your mouth. Even those way at the back. So if you are using a toothbrush and you feel that it isn’t cleaning the teeth right at the back of your mouth. Time to get one that can and usually that means one with a smaller and more compact brush head.
Qn: How can coffee and tea lovers keep a set of bright white pearlies without stopping their coffee or tea consumption?
Firstly, we have to acknowledge there is zero possibility of telling a person to drink less tea or coffee. Or even to brush their teeth after every cup. I drink about three cups of coffee a day and I drink a lot more when I am stuck at my desk typing out some 100 page proposal or drafting an email that will take me an hour to complete.
So, the first advice I would give is to have a glass of water next to your mug of tea or coffee. Right after one sip of tea or coffee, have one sip of water and gargle strongly before swallowing. Works with wine, or chocolate or anything really. Water neutralizes the effects of acidic and sugary drinks and food, and removes food particles left behind on teeth.
Qn: What causes our teeth to discolour?
Essentially, there are 2 types of discolouration, extrinsic and intrinsic. While they are generally considered to be of cosmetic significance only, a single “dark” tooth may be an indication that the tooth is dead, especially if it has a history of trauma, infection, or both. One should visit the dentist to determine if it requires any treatment.
The main cause of discolouration of teeth is from the stuff we have been talking about like coffee/tea/smoking etc (these are extrinsic stains) = Laziness (or in the case of Singapore “work so hard until no strength to even brush teeth anymore”). The main cause of extrinsic stains is from not brushing after every meal, drink and etc, stuff I mentioned earlier. Extrinsic stains can be mostly polished and/or bleached away as these stains are superficial.
Demineralization from ingestion of acidic foods, and poor oral hygiene can roughen tooth enamel and make it stain easier. It can also make the stains harder to remove.
Qn: We are all conscious about the colour of our teeth and may even try folk remedies such as rubbing banana peel against our teeth. Share your thoughts about such homemade teeth whitening methods.
A lot of natural remedies actually work to remove stains like taking some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate to the chemists out there and by the way this is also what we use in our Pearlie White® whitening toothpaste) and mixing it with water and brushing it over your teeth.
So you may ask then why do consumers need to buy whitening toothpaste rather than use these natural remedies.
Firstly, have you tried the taste of baking soda with water. It ain’t exactly peaches and cream.
Secondly, how much to mix. Too much and the ingredients might be too abrasive and cause more harm than good. Too little and no effect.
So when you pay for a whitening toothpaste like our Pearlie White® Advanced Whitening or Blanc Perfect toothpastes, you are getting the right mix for the right results and at the right price for convenience. Plus of course, for us, we keep the bad stuff out like sodium lauryl sulphate, artificial colouring etc that you find commonly in other toothpastes
Qn: There are fears that whitening tools can be damaging to our teeth. How does Pearlie White whiten without harming teeth?
We don’t call them “whitening tools” anymore. Because that sounds like something you would find in photo editing software or a plastic surgeon’s equipment. We spell it out now as “Pearlie White Tooth Stain Erasers and Plaque Removers.”
So pertaining to these items. Firstly, let’s get the facts right on a scale of effectiveness of extrinsic stain removal (i.e. stains from coffee/tea/cigarettes etc). They will definitely help you get stains out better than say just using a regular toothbrush and whitening toothpaste. But they are no way as effective at removing stains as the instruments that a dentist would have on hand which operate at much higher frequencies/oscillations and use materials that can polish off more than just surface layer stains.
And that also tells you that our tooth stain erasers, polishers and plaque removers are not items you would use every day like regular toothbrush and whitening toothpaste but rather only when needed, and on areas where there are, recent stains (so perhaps once every two weeks) and in between visits to your dentist. So if you keep to using them as mentioned above, they should be safe to use.
And at risk of sounding like a broken record and also killing my own sales (but we live by our mantra of #KeepItReal), if you brush your teeth after every meal or snack and rinse your mouth with water after every sip of coffee/tea, then you won’t need the help of our tooth stain erasers and plaque removers. But as you can tell, especially living in an extremely fast paced economy/society/work environment, these items fulfil a need as a result of our time-deficient lifestyles where maintaining a perfect oral care regime is impossible.
About Andy Ong, Managing Director of Corlison
Andy spent the first part of his career in the 1990s marketing cutting edge digital and mobile commerce solutions. He decided to return to the family’s 35 year-old product distribution business in 2001 to help build on its capabilities.
Andy had a choice then to have the company go with the status quo and continue expanding on its distribution business. Or to forge a whole new path by drawing on the family’s experiences in the oral and dental care industry and developing on Singapore’s very own oral care brand, Pearlie White®.
Andy is passionate about everything Singapore and is constantly thinking of new ways to collaborate with other local brands and businesses on all manner of projects to promote the “Singapore Brand”. He believes there are no Singapore SMEs or GLCs but just one big SLC (Singapore Linked Corporation).