When we go to the store or pharmacy, we see shelves full of dental products. It can be overwhelming to try to pick the right dental care products. First, and foremost, our dentists at Harvest Dental recommend looking for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) “Seal of Acceptance” on any product you are interested in purchasing. The ADA seal is not an endorsement of the product, but it does mean that the product is safe, effective, and proven to do what it states on its package. If the product doesn’t have this seal, you should definitely do some research before you purchase it. See below for more information on Drs. Horsley and Walker’s recommended home dental care products.
We recommend you pick a toothpaste or gel with fluoride in it. Fluoridated toothpastes and gels are proven to help prevent cavities. You will find that pastes and gels come in a variety of flavors, and both work well when used twice daily. Pick one that suits your taste! Some ingredients like wintergreen or spearmint may irritate your gums or even make your teeth feel more sensitive. If this is the case, discontinue using it, and purchase another product.
Products that we recommend avoiding are toothpastes or gels without the ADA seal. Also, you may want to steer clear of “whitening” toothpastes and gels as their abrasive ingredients (some of which are the same as those found in sandpaper) can cause harm to your gums and teeth. If you are interested in whiter teeth, contact our office for more information.
Bristle stiffness and brush-head size are the two main characteristics to consider when purchasing a toothbrush. Again, look for the ADA seal, and for an extra soft or soft-bristled toothbrush. A hard or stiff bristled toothbrush can do more harm than good. Properly using a soft brush twice a day is much more effective at removing plaque or stains than brushing once at the end of the day with a stiff brush. Before you brush, run warm water over the bristles and rub them with your thumb to soften them, and make them more pliable.
Brush-head size is also an important consideration. Typically, if you have crowded teeth, a smaller brush-head size can aid in getting into those tighter areas. For children, look on the package and buy an appropriate sized toothbrush that matches with the child’s age. Remember to replace your toothbrush every 3 months, or after you have been sick. Most toothbrushes have a row of blue colored bristles that fade with use, the rule of thumb is to replace your toothbrush when these bristle have faded halfway down to the plastic hub. Also, any toothbrush with bristles that are spread out or are frayed should be replaced ASAP.
Manual vs. Powered Toothbrushes:
Although the saying, “It doesn’t matter what type of toothbrush you use, as long as you use it properly” is true, I have found that a powered toothbrush does a superior job compared to their manual counterpart.
In my opinion, these are a few of the advantages of using a powered toothbrush:
- If you are physically challenged and/or have dexterity issues with your hands a powered toothbrush may be easier to handle.
- If you have misaligned teeth or teeth with uneven surfaces a powered toothbrush may be more effective.
- If you have braces or other orthodontic appliances attached to your teeth a powered toothbrush may work better than a manual toothbrush.
- Most power brushes have timers on them. The timers will beep, reminding you to move from one part of the mouth to the next, this ensures proper brushing time in all areas of the mouth.
- Power toothbrushes are fun to use, so you might brush more often!
- It is clinically proven that power toothbrushes are more effective in removing plaque then a manual toothbrush.
The two types of powered toothbrushes are sonic powered and electric powered. The two major brands in each category are Sonic Care™ and Braun Oral B™.
Sonic toothbrushes make 30,000 and 40,000 brush strokes per minute, and they direct toothpaste and their bristles between teeth and below the gum line to remove plaque. I love my current Sonic Care toothbrush.
Electric toothbrushes make 3,000 and 7,500 strokes per minute. Most electric brush-heads will agitate like a wash-machine. We recommend the small circular brush-head of the Braun Oral B™. It is great at getting to tight places where other brush heads cannot reach.
For a comparison, when you use a manual brush you may achieve up to 300 brush strokes per minute. As you can see there is a powerful advantage of the power toothbrush!
What dental floss works best? The one you use daily! There are many different types of floss on the market. Again, we recommend you look for one with the ADA seal. Floss’ come in different thicknesses, braided, unbraided, waxed, non-waxed, etc. Some patients enjoy dental flossers, which is a piece of floss with a plastic handle. These are great, and you can floss with one hand. So, feel free to keep a few handy at all times. Remember to floss at least once a day, and only floss the teeth you want to keep!
Water picks, or oral irrigators are great at removing large food debris from around braces or from underneath bridges, but they cannot remove the plaque from your teeth. There is no substitute to brushing and flossing to remove plaque.
Mouthwashes and Rinses:
There are many different types of mouthwashes, both prescription and over-the-counter. The two types of mouthwashes mentioned here can be bought over-the-counter, and they serve two different purposes. The first one is Listerine™ mouthwash. It has been clinically proven to kill the bacteria that cause gum disease. Listerine™ should be used only as directed, and only after you have properly brushed and flossed your teeth. The second product is a fluoride rinse called ACT®. Fluoride rinses have been clinically proven to arrest, or stop small cavities and reinforce enamel, therefore they help prevent tooth decay. Use a fluoride rinse only after you have properly brushed and flossed. The best time to use this product is just before bed, making sure you do not eat or drink after using it. Rinsing with an alcohol-based mouthwash or rinse should be done with caution and should never be used for children under 6. Again, look for the ADA seal, and follow the directions on the bottle.
If you have any questions, please call 469-812-7100 to reach our dental offices in Farmersville and Van Alstyne, Texas.