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Oral Care: Word of Mouth
Local experts explain the best products and methods for keeping your mouth healthy and your smile pristine.


July 2018

Up and down, side to side, circular motion, manual, electric, fluoride rinse, tartar control, enamel protectors, oral rinses, water picks, dental floss or tape … we are faced with a lot of choices when it comes to our personal oral hygiene. Problem is they all claim to be recommended by nine out of 10 dentists. So how do you know you’re getting the right product and using it properly? Here’s what the experts say.

Choosing a toothbrush:

Nowadays, the consensus in the dental world is that a soft toothbrush is best, as our goal when brushing is the removal of plaque, which is a soft sticky substance/film that collects on the teeth. Just remember, a worn toothbrush with splayed bristles is less effective at removing plaque and should be replaced. As far as shape and size, find one that fits in your mouth, has bristles, is small enough to comfortably get around the backs of your last molars, and can get into the nooks and crannies between crooked teeth.
– Nathan Darling, DDS, Darling Dental

We tend to recommend an electric toothbrush for our patients. Most electric toothbrushes have a two-minute timer programmed within it, which helps to ensure long enough tooth brushing.  The pulsation of the bristles helps to remove plaque on all patients, young and old.  Many adults tend to be overaggressive brushers. Allowing an electric toothbrush to mimic the brushing motion along the gum line helps prevent damage to the surrounding gum tissues and tooth.
– Dalia Dahl, Practice Director / Hygiene Coordinator, Generations Family Dental

Brushing Technique:

At the minimum, a person should brush twice per day for at least two minutes.  Careful attention should be paid to make sure all the surfaces of the teeth are brushed — even those that may be difficult to reach.  Holding the brush at a 45-degree angle close to the gums will insure that the gum line is also properly cleaned.
– Stephanie Murphy, DDS, Family and Cosmetic Dentistry

Choosing a Toothpaste:

The only thing to look for is fluoride. It is scientifically proven to decrease the acid solubility of enamel and decrease susceptibility to cavities.  Sodium lauyrl sulfate (SLS)-free toothpaste is good too, as many people have sensitivities to SLS. Whitening toothpastes are more abrasive and can cause sensitivity. If someone does have sensitive teeth, I recommend a desensitizing toothpaste with KNO3, potassium nitrate, an ingredient added to decrease / block perceived noxious stimuli.
– Nathan Darling, DDS, Darling Dental

Dental Floss or Tape:

Whatever works for the individual. Some mouths have tight spaces and may require a thinner floss and those with wider spaces may prefer a wider floss like tape or superfloss. As a flosser, if I was stuck on a tropical island, and I could bring one thing with me... it would be my floss over my toothbrush. Floss stimulates the tissues, and removes plaque and debris from in between the teeth getting to places that a toothbrush can’t reach.
– Dalia Dahl, Practice Director / Hygiene Coordinator, Generations Family Dental

To Rinse or not to Rinse:

Oral rinses and mouthwashes are necessary for people with special issues – such as a high cavity rate, sensitivity or bad breath — but rinses may also be another way to deliver fluoride, and prevent cavities and sensitive teeth, as well as help people who struggle with dry mouth, which is a common side effect of many medications that people may take. The oral rinse you need depends on the circumstances that you need it for.
– Mark Crego, DDS, Midtown Dental Care

Antiseptic mouthwashes actually kill bacteria in the mouth, which also helps fight cavities, gingivitis, periodontal disease and bad breath. Fluoride rinses actually do help to fight cavities, as mentioned previously. Just plain mouthwash can temporarily help with bad breath, but that’s all it does. Also, proponents of oil pulling claim it decreases bacterial colonization in the mouth by a process called saponification, which can inhibit bacteria from sticking to each other and forming larger colonies, but the science is lacking.
– Nathan Darling, DDS, Darling Dental

Water Pick:

A water pick is great and is another helpful adjunct to achieve optimal oral health, but is not as effective in removing plaque in between teeth as floss is when used properly. Also, different brand water picks have different spray configurations and jet stream force, which can cause damage to the gums if used incorrectly. Water picks are great for patients who are in active orthodontic treatment as they can dislodge and remove food debris that is stuck in places the patient cannot reach with a toothbrush.
– Nathan Darling, DDS, Darling Dental

Other Recommendations:

The most important thing to do for your oral health is to have a good diet. Enjoy healthy foods for snacks, like vegetables or fruit, and avoid soda and any type of food that is highly processed like candy. Diet soda is just as bad as regular soda due to its high acidity.
– Mark Crego, DDS, Midtown Dental Care

One Final Word:

Brush AND floss the teeth you want to keep.
– Nathan Darling, DDS, Darling Dental


This story ran in the July 2018 issue of: