Dental Tools: 101

Dental Tools: 101

by Kristina Mackie, DDS
Loretto Family Dentistry PLLC

Let’s face it. When it comes to consumerism, there is a lot of noise out there on what to buy, and the dental aisle of the grocery store is no exception. So how do you choose the right tools for you?

When it comes to selecting a manual toothbrush, it’s best to select one with soft bristles. I know it seems counterintuitive; you want a good cleaning so the harder the scrub, the better, right? The reason this rationale is wrong is, over time, firmer bristles can lead to problems like tooth wear and gum recession. My patients may have heard me say, “…after all, the Grand Canyon was carved out by running water.” All you need is time and a bit of pressure to cause change.

As far as electric toothbrushes, I stand behind my favorite; Philips Sonicare. I can usually tell when a patient consistently uses a sonic toothbrush. This is due to the significant reduction in plaque, tartar, and inflammation; it’s substantial! As a matter-of-fact, Sonicare touts a 2 minute brushing (which, by-the-way, is the correct amount of time to devote to each brushing) is equivalent to 31,000 brush strokes or 2 months of regular brushing with a manual toothbrush. Moral of the story: invest in a sonic toothbrush, please.

Let’s talk floss. It’s important to use mechanical methods to clean in between teeth daily. This is a critical step since gum disease starts between the teeth. Flossing is tried-and-true however, those with periodontal disease, large spaces, bridges, and braces may find that this method leaves a lot to be desired. I’m a fan of the Water Flosser by Waterpik®. It is an irrigation tool which flushes debris from between teeth. Another plus: it allows you to add an oral rinse solution like Listerine® in dilution to deliver antibacterial properties right where you need them. This is an essential tool for those with any form of gum disease.

If further guidance is needed, check for products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, and as usual, make sure you’re brushing twice daily and (water)flossing once daily for optimal oral health.

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