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Navigating through the Toothpaste aisle at the Drugstore

With thousands of dental hygiene products on the market, choosing the right ones for you may seem daunting. Commercials and ads promising “whiter” and “cleaner” teeth can be misleading. Fancy designs and creative marketing can lure you into buying products that are not the best fit for your dental needs. In general, I think that the basic four hygiene aides that must be in your bathroom include: 1) Toothpaste; 2) Toothbrush; 3) Floss; and 4) Mouthwash. Here are some guidelines to help you decide exactly what would work for you.

1. Toothpaste

  • There are hundreds of toothpaste brands and formulations to choose from, but choose one that hasFluoride. Fluoride is the most important ingredient in toothpaste, which helps to remineralize tooth structure and prevent decay.
  • Those with generalized sensitive teeth may benefit from “Sensitivity” toothpaste that contains Potassium Nitrate.This can take a few weeks to take effect, but in most patients, it works well to stabilize sensitivity.
  • If you are prone to contact allergies, you may want to avoid cinnamon-flavored products, which may cause mild sloughing of the gum tissue. Another ingredient to avoid is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, commonly found in most brands to create the “foamy” feeling while brushing.
  • Whitening toothpastes contain abrasive particles that mechanically remove superficial stains. Studies have shown that there is no significant change in tooth color by using these products.

2. Toothbrush

  • Always choose a Soft Bristle toothbrush.There is a misconception that hard-bristled brushes work better to remove plaque, but they actually harm your teeth. Aggressive brushes can create scooped-out ridges on your teeth.
  • Electric toothbrushes are a great investment. I’ve noticed a huge difference in patients who have made the switch from conventional manual brushes. The electric toothbrush does all the work for you. You move from tooth to tooth, surface to surface but you do not rotate your hand or brush back-and-forth. Most models also have timers, so you know that you have brushed a full 2 minutes.
  • When using a manual toothbrush, angle the head at 45 degrees and brush in a small circular motion along the gumline. Avoid the back-and-forth motion and use a gentle touch. Again, aggressive brushing does more harm than good.

3. Floss

  • Waxed vs. Un-waxed: It’s a matter of personal preference. Research shows that there’s no significant difference between the two, as long as you are flossing everyday. For those having difficulty sliding floss through the teeth, waxed floss works well.
  • Patients who are on-the-go may find floss picks very convenient. They have a handle with a small piece of floss at the end, intended for one time use. Make sure that you are rinsing between each tooth and that you are engaging both sides of the teeth, not just snapping the floss through.
  • One final note, water picks are not a substitute for traditional flossing.They are helpful at cleaning debris underneath bridged teeth or through braces, but they do not remove plaque between teeth.

4. Mouthwash

I strongly encourage patients to incorporate a mouthwash into their daily regimen. This is not a substitute for traditional brushing and flossing, but everyone can benefit from it. There are two types of rinses, which can be used according to your specific dental needs.

  • Anti-plaque/Anti-gingivitis: These rinses are for patients who are struggling with gum disease. These antiseptic rinses contain essential oils that fight bacteria that cause inflamed, irritated gums.
  • Anti-cavity: Patients who have been diagnosed with more than 3 cavities should use a rinse that contains Fluoride to prevent new decay.

Hopefully, this run-through of the indispensable products from my medicine cabinet will help you decide what will work best in yours. If you have any questions, come visit us at Go Dental so we can help you create a customized dental regimen that will fit your needs!