The most important dentistry you will ever have is the kind that takes place in your own home. This includes brushing and flossing of course, but also includes eating a balanced diet and living a healthy lifestyle!
Brushing and flossing:
Patients often ask us which products we recommend. Which toothbrush is best? Which toothpaste do you suggest? What kind of flossing method is the best? Our answer is always the same: the best toothbrush, toothpaste and flossing methods are the ones that you will use!
As long as the toothbrush you’re using has soft bristles, it’s a great brush. Some patients prefer manual toothbrushes, some prefer the lower-end electric toothbrushes, and some patients prefer the high-end toothbrushes such as Sonicare and the better Oral-B brushes. If you prefer a higher-end brush, we sell them in our office at our cost, which is a significant savings over what you will pay in stores. Whichever brush is working for you is the best brush for you. Just remember…ONLY soft bristled brushes! The others can remove enamel at an alarming rate.
Again, the toothpaste that you like is the best one for you. However, if you’re not opposed to fluoride, a fluoride toothpaste will do more to reduce cavities than one without. Children who cannot brush their teeth without swallowing toothpaste should only get a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their brushes. Some toothpastes have additional antibiotic properties, such as Colgate Total containing Triclosan.
Flossing, waterpicks, toothpicks, etc:
Studies have shown that dental floss (yes, the good old fashioned floss!) does more to reduce the risk for periodontal disease and cavities than any other method. Toothpicks are great for your gums and can help remove food stuck between your teeth, but they do not effectively remove all of the plaque that builds up between your teeth. Flossing does a much better job. Contrary to popular belief, flossing is not so that you can remove stuck food even though it does do that. It’s just a way of cleaning the bacterial film that grows on the surfaces of your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. Waterpicks, while handy and a great adjunct to normal dental care, does not remove this bacterial film either which means cavities are not as easily prevented. However, toothpicks and waterpicks are still great to use! Just try to get some floss in there every now and then as well.
While not essential, mouthwash can play an important role in keeping your mouth clean. We do not recommend using pre-brush rinses or whitening mouthwashes, as their effectiveness is in question. The alcohol found in a mouthwash such as Scope or Listerine helps keep your mouth feeling clean and has some antibacterial properties. Some mouthwash contains oils that can also kill bacteria. If you are concerned about persistent bad breath, or if we notice that you could benefit from something a little stronger, there are actually inexpensive prescription mouthwashes that have antibiotic properties. We’d be happy to talk to you more about these.
Snacks and a balanced diet:
Sugar does not cause cavities. It’s true! The bacteria that live on our teeth eat the sugar that we eat, and they produce acid. It is this acid that causes cavities! Many people don’t know this, but every food that you eat can contribute to cavities (except cheese and some dairy products…seriously!). Everything we eat can get broken down into sugars, and the bacteria that live on our teeth convert those sugars to cavity-causing acids. Reducing the frequency of sugar is much more important to your dental health than reducing the amount of sugar consumed at any given time.
We at Summerbrook Dental Group know that you’re not going to be able to brush after every meal or snack. When you’re away from your toothbrush, a great alternative is just to rinse your mouth with water! In addition, chewing gum with sweeteners such as Xylitol can actually help prevent tooth decay.