Toothbrushes and other tooth care products play an important role in your overall dental health plan. Although it is important to see your dentist and have your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months, oral health is more dependent on what we do on our own at home every day.
Dental plaque and bacteria cause tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. The better we control the amount of plaque on our teeth by using a good toothbrush and easy to use floss, the fewer problems we will experience. A clean mouth equals healthy teeth and gums and fresh breath. We must brush twice a day, floss at least once before bedtime, and use appropriate mouth rinses.
Plaque and Tartar
Dental plaque is a clear sticky film that coats our teeth, gums, and tongue. It is made up of food debris and bacteria. These bacteria are a normal component of our oral environment. The problems occur when the concentration of these bacteria build up to a high enough concentration to do harm. A few bacteria are not a problem but a colony will produce enough acid byproducts to cause tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.
We can never eliminate these bacteria entirely, but we can certainly control them. We need to break up the colonies on a daily basis so that they are not strong enough to do harm. If left untouched and allowed to mature, these bacterial colonies will soon calcify and become what we call tartar or calculus. Because of the calcification, these colonies cannot be removed by home care methods at this point. Our goal is to break them up early enough that this does not happen. This is not as difficult as you would imagine if you have the proper tools. This is where the right toothbrush and floss is important.
If I could emphasize just one thing, it would be that an electric toothbrush is an absolute necessity! It is the type of thing you don't know what you are missing until you try one. Once you have experienced the superior cleaning ability of an electric toothbrush, you will never be able to go back to your old manual brush. The modest investment in purchasing such a device is more than made up in reduced dental bills and a healthier mouth.
Oral B Triumph Electric Toothbrush
This electric toothbrush is my personal favorite. I have been using one for over 20 years. I originally bought one to help me brush my infant son's teeth quickly and efficiently. He would only allow me about 20 seconds to get the job done. I liked the small round brush head and found it did a wonderful job on his teeth. He loved it and once I tried it on my own teeth, I was hooked.
The small brush head allows you to brush back molars without gagging yourself. It also forces you to brush each tooth individually and therefore more thoroughly. This toothbrush has a rotational and pulsating action that gives it a pleasant massaging action. You automatically brush longer, 2 to 3 minutes, because it is simply more enjoyable.
You also get a boost from the positive feedback of healthier gum tissue, better breath, and less staining and tartar build up.
I mentioned that I used this brush on my infant son. I feel that it is very important for every parent to take an active roll in helping their children brush their teeth properly. The child can brush first to establish the personal hygiene habit but then it is the parents job to re-brush and make sure the plaque has been removed.
It is difficult enough for a well informed parent with decent manual dexterity to brush their own teeth well. The practice of placing all the responsibility on the child is leading to too much childhood decay. I recommend this routine until at least age 8 and possibly longer depending on the child.
I feel the same way about the care of an aging parent. Manual dexterity deteriorates as general health declines. We must assist our family members with oral care when necessary. The Oral-B Triumph Electric Toothbrush allows us to accomplish this in an efficient manner.
This is another excellent and very popular electric toothbrush. It uses an extremely rapid vibrational motion which creates sonic action that can actually clean beyond the reach of the bristles. This brush has the size and shape of a traditional rectangular brush head. It is the top recommendations of many Periodontists (gum specialists) after their patients have undergone gum surgery.
This brush promotes good tissue health during and after healing. It cleans well when there is a lot of root surface exposure due to surgery or general gum recession. Both of these brushes have detachable brush heads that allow multiple family members to use the same base and charger.
It takes about a week to get used to the mechanics of these electric brushes. You may feel that you are making a mess with all the extra splatter until you get used to controlling that with your lips and cheeks. It may also take a little while to adjust to the "ticklish" feeling of the vibrations. Regardless, the Philips Sonicare Flexcare Tooth Brush is a highly recommended electric toothbrush.
HydroFloss and WaterPik Oral Irrigators
Hydro Floss is an irrigator that uses hydromagnetics to break the bond of the plaque from the surface of the tooth. It is excellent for people who have deep periodontal pockets, have had gum surgery, have orthodontic braces, have bad breath issues, or just like to use an oral irrigator. It is especially good for irrigating with special mouth rinses. Perio Therapy from TheraBreath works well with this device.
The traditional WaterPik Ultra Dental Water Jet is still a very popular irrigator. The force of its water stream is stronger than the HydroFloss. This can create problems in deeper periodontal pockets by pushing debris deeper into the pocket. You must be careful to use this device only as directed.
It is important to remember that any irrigator is not a substitute for good brushing with an electric toothbrush and proper flossing technique with an easy to use floss. They are an additional tool for better oral care. I compare sticky plaque on a tooth to peanut butter smeared on a flagpole. You may be able to hose some of it off but you really need to scrub it with a brush to get it clean. A good toothbrush is imperative!
Best Dental Floss
When Glide Dental Floss came on the market about 15 years ago, it changed the way I was able to care for my own teeth. I was never able to floss between my back lower molars with traditional waxed floss without it shredding. It took a lot of time and effort to get rid of the floss stuck between my teeth. This made me not want to floss these areas because of the hassle.
Glide Dental Floss was the first floss I ever used that easily slid between those tight teeth without shredding. If a piece does occasionally separate, it is a long strand that you can easily grab and pull out. Many people never floss their teeth even though they know they should. Glide is a floss that makes it easier to develop that nightly routine.
Just push the floss between your teeth and pull it out sideways. Go through all of your teeth in rapid succession. Don't worry about your technique at this point.
Most people are intimidated by the thought that it is too difficult to do and takes too much time. You just want to develop the habit of doing it every night. You can floss your entire mouth in about 30 seconds. Once the habit is developed, you will find it difficult to go to bed without flossing first. With the repetition, your technique will improve automatically.
Remember that you don't have to remove every bit of the plaque. If you at least break up the colonies, they won't be able to produce enough acid byproducts to do harm.
For those who don't have tight contacts, you can experiment with some of the thicker or unwaxed dental floss. The less lubricated the floss, the better it will clean. The problem is that most people have teeth that are too tight to use anything but Glide Dental Floss.
For those who want an extra boost, try the TheraFloss made by TheraBreath. It has their medicated oxidizing agent added to the floss so you introduce it between the teeth where a mouth rinse will not get to. This is particularly beneficial to people with periodontal or bad breath issues.
The first thing to remember about toothpaste is that it is not as important as the mechanical technique you are using with your toothbrushes. With that said, there are some important differences for special circumstances. In fact, for some people, their toothpaste is doing more harm than good!
Canker sores: Special Warning - You need to use a toothpaste that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS is a foaming agent added to tooth paste to make it foam so we get the impression it is really cleaning well. It is not a necessary ingredient and some people are very sensitive to it. It causes irritation that leads to canker sores. If you have this problem, please try Rembrandt Toothpaste or TheraBreath Toothpaste. Neither of these toothpastes contain SLS and you will find that the TheraBreath Toothpaste is particularly good for your breath.
Remember that without the SLS, these toothpastes will not foam in your mouth. You may be disappointed not to get this feedback, initially, but you will not miss it after a week. Once you realize you are no longer getting the canker sores on a regular basis, you will be sold!
Bad breath - TheraBreath is by far the most effective product line I have ever used to combat bad breath problems. You can learn more by going to Cure Bad Breath here on our website.
Dry mouth syndrome - Biotene has a complete list of products that are the best on the market to combat the misery of having a chronically dry mouth.
Sensitive teeth- Sensodyne tooth paste has probably been around the longest and I still find it to be most effective at dealing with generalized sensitive teeth and root surfaces. It has a special ingredient that coats the root surfaces and plugs up the little porosities that cause those surfaces to be more sensitive. You have to use it every day and after about 2 weeks you will notice a decrease in sensitivity. You must continue to use it or the porosities will open back up and the sensitivity returns.
We all need to clean our tongues with a tongue scraper on a daily basis. The top of the tongue, especially the back one third, has the most bacteria found anywhere in the mouth. Gently scrub forward starting as far back as possible. Your gag reflex will lessen with practice.
You must remove the heavy layer of white plaque to uncover the bacteria so that a mouth rinse will be able to neutralize the bacteria. Please don't over do it. The top surface of the tongue is sensitive and you don't want to traumatize it by scraping too hard or too often. TheraBreath also carries a nice tongue scraper.
Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
This is the generic 3% solution found in the brown bottles in any supermarket. It is a great all around oral disinfectant that can be used whenever there is any acute soft tissue infection. Examples include infection around a partially infected wisdom tooth (pericornitis), infection created from food impaction between two teeth, or periodontal infection around a tooth caused by a deep pocket. Use it a couple of times a day for 2 days and then discontinue. It will delay healing after this point. It is too harsh to use on a daily basis as a preventative rinse. It is a must have for every medicine cabinet.
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