Taking care of your teeth and gums is an everyday process, one that involves not only brushing and flossing at home, but also seeing a dentist on a regular basis. While you might be aware that a regular oral care routine will reduce your risk for cavities and gum disease, the number of products available these days might make picking the right ones for you a bit more complicated. Whether you are looking for floss, a new toothbrush, or toothpaste, here are a few tips to help you choose the right products for you.
The type of floss that’s the right fit for you depends on how wide the spaces between your teeth are. There are four basic types of floss, waxed, unwaxed, tape and yarn. Waxed floss is often recommended for people who have teeth that are very close together. The wax coating helps the floss glide more easily in tight spaces. If your teeth aren’t too close together nor particularly far apart, an unwaxed floss can be an ideal option.
Tape floss is a bit wider than waxed or unwaxed options, and is ribbon-like. Its width makes it a good option for people who have teeth that are spaced more widely apart. Finally, yarn floss changes in thickness based on how tautly or loosely you hold it, making it a good pick if some of your teeth are closer together while others are set apart.
If you have arthritis or find that it is very difficult to reach the back of your mouth with a regular strand of floss, a device such as a flosser, which is usually a small plastic handle with a bit of floss threaded onto the end, can be a helpful alternative to regular floss.
It’s worth noting that waterpiks, which spray a stream of water between the teeth, don’t do the same thing that floss does. A waterpik can rinse away food that’s trapped in your teeth or behind braces, but it won’t help keep your gums healthy the way that floss will.
Just as there are many varieties of floss, there are plenty of varieties of toothpaste out there. While a lot of what goes into picking out a toothpaste is personal preference, such as whether you should pick a mint flavor or a more experimental option such as chocolate, there is one thing you want to look for in anything toothpaste you choose: fluoride. Any toothpaste that’s approved by the American Dental Association needs to contain fluoride, although there are a number of brands that don’t contain it.
Fluoride helps keep the enamel of your teeth strong, reducing the risk for cavities. It can help remineralize teeth that are starting to decay, too. Beyond looking for a toothpaste with fluoride, you can look for one that helps with a specific concern you might have. For example, if your teeth are sensitive, you can choose a product that’s designed to reduce sensitivity. If you are concerned about yellowing teeth, a whitening paste can provide some benefit.
When it comes to picking a toothbrush, you want to look at the size of the brush and the type of bristles it has. Usually, a soft bristled brush is recommended. Using a brush with medium or firm bristles is typically too abrasive for the average person, making it more likely for you to wear away your teeth’s enamel or to increase your risk for gingival recession.
The head of the toothbrush should fit comfortably in your mouth, too. A large bristlehead might be too big for your mouth, causing you to bump your gums or teeth or making it difficult for you to reach the back areas of the teeth. If your toothbrush is uncomfortable to use, try switching to a smaller brush.
You might also wonder if you should use an electric powered toothbrush or a manual brush. It really comes down to your personal preference. If you have trouble gripping a regular brush, an electric one can make the process of brushing easier. An electric brush can also be ideal if your dentist has told you that you brush too vigorously and have receding gums as a result. Some electric brushes have a sensor that goes off if you put too much pressure on them.
While you should brush and floss daily, no matter what, you might not need to use a mouthwash. Some mouthwashes do help protect your teeth from cavities or reduce your risk for gum disease, but others simply provide a cosmetic benefit: They help freshen your breath. The mouthwash you choose really depends on what you want it to do and on what your dentist recommends. If you have a history of gum disease, he might recommend one with antibacterial ingredients to help cut your risk. If you’ve had a lot of cavities, he might advise a mouthwash with fluoride to further strengthen your teeth.
Along with brushing and flossing and using a mouthwash if you prefer, taking good care of your teeth and gums means seeing a dentist on a regular basis. In Miami, periodontists Dr. John Paul Gallardo can evaluate your teeth and gums and offer treatment or advice if you have gum disease or another problem. To schedule an appointment, call (305) 447-1447 today.