People are always asking me which oral hygiene products I recommend for use at home. As a Periodontist, I often see patients who should have asked this question long before their serious gum problems brought them to my chair. Please remember, these tools only work if you use them!
I agree with the ADA’s recommendations for good oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Tooth decay–causing bacteria still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. This helps remove the sticky film on teeth called plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
- Visit me regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams, and for any dental issues.
I like a soft or extra-soft toothbrush that has polished bristles. These brushes usually last around 30 days before they lose their shape and need to be thrown away. The bristles are soft enough that they will flange under the gum line to remove plaque. I also prefer toothbrushes where the bristles are “pressed” into the brush, not glued. I have seen brushes where the bristles are glued in. This glue can pick up bacteria and remain as a discolored film of bacteria. Toothbrush size matters. You need to use a toothbrush with a head that is small enough that it can reach all surfaces of the tooth.
I like almost all electric toothbrushes (Sonic, Rotary, etc.) as long as the above mentioned bristle selection and head size applies. We should brush our teeth for about 2 minutes. Some of the brushes have a timer. I particularly like an electric toothbrush that is designed to back off if you are pushing too hard or being too aggressive when brushing.
I personally prefer time tested, good old unwaxed floss. The fibers of unwaxed floss fan out on the side of a tooth and cover more tooth surface. But, waxed floss is fine with me also. I’m not crazy about the Teflon coated floss. However, some people have such tight contacts between their teeth that they can’t use any other kind. I think it requires a little more effort on the actual flossing end.
I like the Sonicare Air Flosser. I find people will use this when they will not use anything else. It’s great for people who wear braces, have bridges, or decreased dexterity. I have them available for purchase in my office.
I am not a big fan of water picks because people tend to turn the power up all the way and point the tip in the wrong direction. I have seen water pick injuries. This device is designed to be used with care, on its lowest setting with the tip perpendicular to the tooth.
Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, with your questions or concerns about dental health for children and adults.