With so many dental care products on the market today, how do you know which to choose? From toothpastes to toothbrushes to mouthwashes, get the facts you need to make decisions about your oral health.
With the number and types of available toothpastes on the market – whitening, sensitive, floride, red, green, bubblegum flavored- the best strategy to selecting among these products might be to simply ask your dental hygienist or dentist what the greatest concerns are for your mouth.
Always pick a toothpaste with fluoride to prevent cavities. After that, it’s a matter of personal choice. Gel or paste, wintergreen or spearmint, all work alike. If an ingredient bothers you, or if your teeth are sensitive, try another product.
Then look for those with the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This means the product has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness and that packaging and advertising claims are scientifically supported. Some manufacturers choose not to seek ADA approval. Remember, the seal means the ADA agrees it is safe and effective, but it doesn’t evaluate or endorse their performance.
Manual vs. Powered Toothbrushes
Ah, the great debate… Are you better off with a powered toothbrush or a manual model? It’s a draw. The key to good oral hygiene is correct and effective use of the brush.
The main criterion to look for in manual toothbrushes is soft bristles. Both adults and children should use a toothbrush that has soft bristles.Hard or stiff bristles are not more effective at removing plaque or stains and can actually cause damage to your teeth and gums. The size of the bristle head should not exceed the width of two back teeth.
A powered toothbrush makes it easier to do the job correctly. It’s easier to use if you have a medical condition like arthritis that makes it hard to use your hand or have misaligned teeth or teeth with uneven surfaces or braces. They can be fun to use, especially for kids, you might brush more often or longer as a result.
Ask your dentist which features and bristle head design will work best in your mouth.
Important: Replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Get a new one sooner if the brush looks worn or frayed. Bristles that fan out or spread mean it’s time to for a new one.
Mouthwashes and Rinses
Mouthwash can do more than simply freshen your breath — it can ward off gum disease. But that’s only if you use a bacteria-fighting rinse after you brush and floss. Most mouthwashes are designed to freshen breath, and that’s it, so be sure to read the label. A product with fluoride can help prevent tooth decay by as much as 40% when combined with regular brushing and flossing. Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help bring early gum disease under control. Rinsing with an alcohol-based mouthwash isn’t good for children under 6, who are likely to swallow the liquid. Ask your dentist which type is best for you.