Tips to help you choose the best dental product for yourself. Dental floss or dental tape, a toothbrush and toothpaste are enough to sustain or even improve oral health. Other products, such as mouthwash, oral irrigators, tongue scrapers and dental picks and sticks are good adjuncts and go farther toward improving oral health. Which are best for you?
Tips to Help You Choose Essential Dental Care Products
DENTAL FLOSS AND DENTAL TAPE
- Does not fray or break easily. Good at removing food and plaque from between teeth.
- Recommended when: – Floss pops relatively easily between teeth.
- Good at removing food and plaque from between teeth. Polishes the tooth surfaces. Frays and breaks easily.
- Recommended when: Floss pops very lightly between teeth.
Monofilament (e.g.Glide®) Floss:
- Strong and flat. Slides easiest between the teeth. Does not remove plaque as well as either waxed and unwaxed floss.
- Recommended when: Floss will not fit or breaks frequently between teeth.
- Wider and more flat than string floss. Comes in waxed and unwaxed versions.
- Good at removing food and plaque from between teeth.
- Covers more area with one stroke. The most comfortable to use when there are spaces between the teeth.
- Recommended when: Large spaces between your teeth offer floss no resistance.
- Brush Heads – A rectangular shape is effective. Select a length that will cover only 1 – 2 teeth at a time, typically 1 inch long, and ½ inch wide for age 13+, smaller for others depending upon their age & size. This will facilitate reaching hard to reach areas.
- Bristles: Soft bristles minimize abrasion of the teeth and gums as well as the risk of recession. Soft, multi-level and/or angled bristles on manual toothbrushes may perform better than flat brush heads. Extra soft bristles are recommended for people with sensitive teeth and/or gums as well as patients recovering from gum surgery. Plaque is a film that coats the teeth, hard and medium bristles are not necessary to remove it.
- Brush Handles: Selection should vary with the manual dexterity of the user. Thicker, specialized handles (e.g. molded and angled) for children and individuals with impaired dexterity and/or ability to grip the handle are helpful. Others should select any handle that is most comfortable to grip and maneuver.
Battery Powered and Rechargeable Electric Toothbrushes:
Here are some pros and cons to consider when considering a powered toothbrush:
- A power toothbrush has a long‐term protective effect on oral health by reducing gum pocket depths, loss of gum attachment to the teeth and the number of teeth lost. (Conclusion of an 11 yearlong study published on May 22, 2019 in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.)
- Powered toothbrushes help patients who have limited ability to move their arms, hands and fingers maintain oral hygiene.
- Better at stain removal.
- Timers built into power toothbrushes are helpful in gaining/maintaining compliance with the 2 minute recommended brushing time.
- The vibration created by power toothbrushes may not be well tolerated.
- The aggressive cleaning settings of some power toothbrushes may injure delicate gums.
- More expensive replacement toothbrush heads versus replacing manual toothbrushes.
Ultimately, the best toothbrush type is the one you will properly use, regularly. For a personal recommendation of either a manual or powered toothbrush please your hygienist or Dr. Albright.
Select a toothpaste including anticavity and antimicrobial agents, then include other ingredients for your particular concerns.
Active ingredients in toothpaste which are universally helpful include:
- Anticavity agents: sodium monofluorophosphate, sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride which strengthen tooth structure to resist decay. They also remineralize enamel, helping to reverse early stages of tooth decay.
- Antimicrobial agents: Stannous fluoride which helps reduce gingivitis and Pyrophosphates and zinc citrate which help reduce the build-up of calculus (tartar)
The remaining active ingredients are:
- Desensitizing agents: Potassium nitrate which reduces sensitivity by depolarizing the nerve cells and Stannous fluoride and Strontium Chloride which reduce sensitivity by occluding the dentinal tubules.
Inactive ingredients may also include:
- Whitening agents which are either abrasive or enzymatic which remove surface stains. Examples include calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts, silicates and peroxide – both hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide.
- Xylitol – This natural sugar alcohol may be used alongside fluoride or instead of it to help reduce the harmful effects of plaque. Current research is insufficient to support any official statement promoting the cavity preventive effects of xylitol in toothpastes.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium N-lauryl sarcosinate help increase the solubility of plaque during brushing. Toothpastes with sodium lauryl sulfate (“SLS”), a foaming agent in toothpastes and mouthwashes, also increase the recurrence rate of canker sores in some susceptible individuals.
Remaining inactive ingredients prevent water loss, increase the solubility of plaque, stabilize the toothpaste formula provide flavoring and create foaming action.
I hope this has been helpful. If you have questions or comments please reply. There’s more: see my tips on selecting more oral hygiene products: mouthwash, oral irrigators, tongue scrapers and dental picks & sticks.
Thanks for clearing up my confusion around which floss to use!