Using the Best Tools to Brush Your Teeth

“I know how to brush my teeth,” you say, and you’re right. There isn’t much to it. Toothpaste goes on bristles, bristles go in mouth, scrub around to remove plaque and bacteria, and rinse. There’s nothing complicated about it.

But a trip down the dental care aisle at your local drugstore reveals a confusing wall-to-wall array of products to choose from. You’re asked to pick between manual and electric toothbrushes, each with various bristle lengths and softness. Toothpaste comes in infinite varieties. A host of dental products, some of which you’ve never even heard of, line the shelves. Which ones do you need for the best oral hygiene care?

As in so many other things in life, that depends.

In a rainbow of colors and flavors, there are hundreds of toothpastes to choose from. Whitening toothpaste, toothpaste for sensitive teeth, and tartar and plaque control varieties exist. Talking with a dentist can help determine which type is best for you. No matter which type you decide on, make sure your toothpaste has fluoride. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, and is a big factor in the reduction of cavities over the past 50 years. No matter which product you use, look for the ADA seal on the box. This ensures that the product is tested, the ingredients are safe, and the toothpaste does an effective job.

What about a toothbrush? Like with toothpaste, look for the ADA seal on the packaging to ensure it is safe and effective. The bristles should be strong enough to remove plaque without As for whether you use a manual or an electric brush, that is up to you.

According to a study by the Cochrane Collaboration conducted in 2005, most manual toothbrushes remove as much plaque as their electric counterparts, and protect equally against inflamed gums. If you’re the type of person who rushes through brushing her teeth, you may want an electric toothbrush to be sure you do a thorough job. They can also be helpful to those with arthritis or other problems with dexterity, but they aren’t necessary to keep your mouth clean and healthy.

What is necessary is flossing. No toothbrush can reach every part of your mouth. Plaque and bacteria build up in hard-to-reach places such as between teeth. To stay healthy, you want to be sure to clean everywhere you can, so don’t skip the floss when you visit the dental care aisle.

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to dental care products. Instead of being overwhelmed by all the options, look for products that suit your needs. Your dentist may even have recommendations for products that would be most effective to you.

Now you not only know how to brush your teeth, but how to pick the tools that are right for you.

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