Visit any pharmacy or the health and beauty section of a supermarket today, and you are faced with a large, and many say confusing, array of over-the-counter remedies and devices designed to help you tend to your hygiene and health-care needs.
There are many high-quality products on the market today. There also are many products of dubious value.
Whatever over-the-counter dental product you buy, it is strongly advised that you ensure it has the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.
Over-the-counter dental instruments are fraught with danger. These include scaling devices and picks. Use of the products, even when following the instructions, can put your teeth and the soft tissue of your mouth at risk of tearing, bruising and other injury. You also may accidentally chip a tooth.
It is best to consult our office instead of trying to do a repair job yourself.
Choosing a Toothbrush
Never before has there been such a dizzying array of toothbrushes on the market. Consumers are inundated with new designs, materials, attachments, and colors. Whatever toothbrush design you choose, the most important thing is that you use the toothbrush at least 2-3 times a day. Moreover, how long you spend brushing your teeth is as critical as how often you brush. This ensures complete plaque removal in hard to reach areas.
Mechanical and manual toothbrushes
Our dental team highly recommends a mechanical (electric) toothbrush. The pulsations break up plaque efficiently. Many models now have timers to remind you to brush longer.
It is always nice to have a backup manual toothbrush. When choosing a manual toothbrush, look for a compact head with very soft, rounded bristles.
Types of Floss
Dental floss comes in a variety of colors, materials and even flavors. Waxed varieties slide through the teeth, allowing people with extremely tight spaces to floss more easily. Popular flavors of floss include wintergreen and cinnamon. Waxed floss does tend to fray more than unwaxed floss.
A type of material called dental tape can be effective for people with large spaces between their teeth, or for people with bridge work.
Floss can be purchased in small self-dispensing boxes. Floss can also be purchased in special, single-use holders, which are useful for people who have a hard time wrapping floss around their fingers, including those with dexterity problems or arthritis.
There is never a suitable substitute for daily brushing and flossing.
While some products, including water irrigation devices (or “water picks”), may be useful for specific applications, they may not be as effective as traditional flossing in the removal of plaque.
Water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to blast away food particles and other debris in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. Dentists use professional-grade water picks when preparing a tooth for restoration, or in general cleaning and exams.
People with painful gum disease or highly sensitive gums may find water picks useful for supplementing their brushing regimen. People with orthodontia, including braces, have found water picks quite useful because toothbrush bristles often get stuck.
The Food and Drug Administration classifies mouth rinses into two categories – therapeutic and cosmetic.
In general, therapeutic rinses with fluoride have been shown to actually fight cavities, plaque and gingivitis.
On the other hand, cosmetic rinses merely treat breath odor, reduce bacteria and/or remove food particles in the mouth. They do nothing to treat or prevent gingivitis.
People who have difficulty brushing (because of physical difficulties such as arthritis) can benefit from a good therapeutic mouth rinse.
Caution: Even rinses that are indicated to treat plaque or cavities are only moderately effective. In fact, regular rinsing with water and use of good quality fluoride toothpaste are just as or more effective.