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Must-Have Dental Products: What Dental Hygienists Recommend?

Choosing the right dental hygiene products for home care can be confusing. With the store aisles loaded, and even more available online, it is hard to know which ones live up to their claims. However, one of the goals of a dental hygienist is to educate our patients on the best products to fit their oral care needs. So, let’s talk about some of the most common products recommended for patients.

Key takeaways:

Manual toothbrushes

Oral hygiene begins with a toothbrush. Toothbrushes are designed to remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles from the surface of the teeth. However, choosing the right one means determining what features are most important. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using a soft-bristled toothbrush. That's because medium and stiff bristles are too abrasive and can remove tooth structures. More rigid bristles can cause grooves on the tooth surface, damage the gum tissue, and cause gum recession.

Also, using a toothbrush with a large head can affect how well the bristles access the tooth surface. A smaller head toothbrush will work best for most people. There are several other factors to choose from on manual toothbrushes. Some toothbrushes can have gum massagers, sweeping bristles, or even tongue cleaners attached to them. However, those items are more of a personal preference than a necessity.

Things to consider when choosing manual toothbrushes:

  • Soft bristles only.
  • Smaller head to reach all areas more thoroughly.

Electric toothbrushes

One of the most popular question remains – what's better, a manual or an electric toothbrush? The answer is that both types of toothbrushes can be effective at plaque and debris removal when used properly. Though electric toothbrushes are more expensive, they offer definite benefits.

For example, the handle of an electric toothbrush can be larger, making it easier to hold. Additionally, electric toothbrushes can remove more plaque and reduce gingivitis than manual toothbrushes. Rotating-oscillating brushes can produce up to 8,000 strokes per minute, compared to 200-400 strokes per minute of a manual toothbrush.

Furthermore, some clinical evidence suggests that the small rotating brushes are more effective than brushing side-to-side with a manual toothbrush. According to Oral-B’s Best Electric Toothbrush of 2021, the Oral-B electric toothbrush removes 38% more plaque and improves gum health by 34% when compared to Sonicare DiamondClean technology.

Toothbrush typeSuitable forCost
Oral-B Pro 1000 CrossActionAdults$40
Oral-B iO Series 3 Adults$80
Oral-B iO series 9Adults$300
Oral-B KidsKids$10–$40

Interproximal cleaners

While brushing one's teeth is necessary, it does not clean all the surfaces of your teeth. The interproximal surfaces, or in-between spaces, of teeth, make up about 40% of the total tooth surface. Skipping these areas is a big mistake. There are different methods available for cleaning the interproximal areas. Two of the most common accessories are traditional floss and a water flosser.

Floss options

Floss is available in waxed, unwaxed, tape, thread, or tufted floss varieties — each of these claims to work better than the other. So, how does one choose? The truth is, there is no one floss that can meet all of an individual's needs.

Therefore, here are some recommendations for specific needs:

PurposeRecommended brand
Dental floss for under bridgesOral-B Super Floss Pre-Cut Strands
Dental floss for bracesG.U.M. EasyThread Orthodontic Floss
Regular flossCocoFloss Coconut-Oil infused Woven Floss

Water flossers

A water flosser is a hand-held appliance with a focused tip for spraying water in-between teeth. A water flosser helps remove plaque and debris hiding between teeth and below the gums. There are many brands and models of water flossers available. Water flossers come with multiple tips specifically designed for different dental needs.

For dental hygienists, the biggest concerns are plaque and bacteria removal — a water flosser does that. Studies show that a water flosser is 29% more effective at overall plaque removal than traditional floss. Many specialists recommend the WaterPik. However, each person has different needs when it comes to a water flosser.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding on the best model:

  • Hand-held vs countertop models. Both types work similarly. However, the countertop models hold more water and have a smaller handle. On the other hand, the portable versions hold about 30 seconds of water, so I recommend filling it twice to clean the whole mouth. The biggest benefit of the portable version is taking it into the shower to avoid the extra mess a water flosser can make.
  • Battery vs rechargeable. Most rechargeable models hold a charge for close to a week. This is better than changing batteries often. Besides, continually buying batteries can become expensive.
  • Accessories. Some water flosser models have accessories like electric toothbrushes and whitening ability. These are optional and do not change the flossing abilities.

Types of toothpaste

Toothpaste is another must-have for good oral care. Toothpaste helps to remove plaque, kill bacteria, and restore tooth structures. The ADA recommends using fluoride toothpaste to help protect teeth from cavities. For a toothpaste to earn the ADA's seal of approval, it must meet all the requirements for safety and efficacy in reducing tooth decay.

Additionally, toothpaste can contain other ingredients that help with sensitivity, gingivitis, erosion, and whitening. It is best first to decide what condition you are most concerned with treating when deciding on toothpaste. Here are a few recommendations for choosing a toothpaste to address specific needs:

Problem areaRecommended brand
Sensitivity Sensodyne Rapid Relief
Dry MouthBiotene Dry Mouth Fluoride Toothpaste
Cavity ProtectionColgate Cavity Protection

Mouth rinses

Mouth rinse can be very effective in helping to maintain a healthy mouth — but it does not replace proper brushing and flossing. Mouth rinses can help with many different conditions. While some mouth rinses are cosmetic, others have therapeutic benefits. It is important first to determine what one wants from a mouth rinse.

Here are a few to consider for specific conditions:

Problem areaRecommended brand
Dry mouthBiotene Dry Mouth Management Oral Rinse
SensitivityACT Total Care Sensitive Formula Mouthwash
Ulcers, trauma, or gum irritationsPeroxyl Mouthwash
CavitiesListerine Total Care Anticavity
Bad breathCrest Scope Get Fresh

Tongue scrapers

Tongue scrapers are small tools that help to remove plaque and bacteria from the tongue's surface. Bacteria and food debris collect on the tongue's surface. More than half the cases of bad breath are tongue-related. The bacteria that hide on the tongue produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). Using a tongue scraper can reduce the VSCs by 75%. This dramatically reduces the cause of bad breath and lowers the number of bacteria in your mouth.

Good oral health helps promote overall health. Our mouth affects our ability to eat, smile, and communicate. Regular dental check-ups and excellent home oral care are vital to maintaining a healthy mouth. So, ensure you have the right tools to keep your mouth and body healthy.

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