MANUAL VS ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSHES:
To start, MANUAL TOOTHBRUSHES are SUFFICIENT to clean your teeth, as long as they are used CORRECTLY. The only recommendation is that you use one with SOFT bristles. Electric toothbrushes also need to be used properly for maximum effectiveness.
So how do you brush CORRECTLY?
One of the most common methods recommended is to angle the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle towards the gumline and to use small circular brush strokes. This allows the bristles to gently clean underneath the gumline.
Electric toothbrushes are good for those who are unable to use a manual toothbrush for whatever reason, be it arthritis, age, or disability. The important aspect to remember is the allow the toothbrush to do the work. You do not need to brush the teeth like a normal toothbrush, you just need to move the toothbrush to the different teeth and position the toothbrush correctly.
There currently are several different electric toothbrushes and Sonicares on the market, as new models are always being introduced as the older models get modified and improved. If you do purchase an older model from somewhere, just be sure that additional brush heads are still available since they will need to be replaced periodically.
SONICARE: This is the most expensive brush on the market, but unfortunately it is one of the best. You’ve heard the old adage, you get what you pay for. This definitely holds true here. If you have never had a cavity and do not have any periodontal disease you are probably fine with whatever you are using now.
On the other hand, if you do have PERIODONTAL DISEASE, you are fighting for the LIVES of your teeth, so you may want to consider springing for the brush!
ORAL B: This Braun toothbrush moves in a rotary fashion and has a smaller brush head than the Sonicare. Some like the small head better because they can brush one tooth at a time, and can more easily get to the hard to reach areas. Also, there is a function which stops the head from moving if you apply too much pressure. This is nice because MANY people use too much force when they brush.
WATER PIK: This will also work fine; just remember to let the brush do the work!
Many people use Braun toothbrushes and other electric toothbrushes like manual toothbrushes, and think they need to brush like a manual, but let the toothbrush do the work.
SO WHICH IS THE BEST?
Some say it depends on which part of the country you are in. Sonicare is based in Seattle, and Oral B and Braun toothbrush is based in Boston.
Some say it depends on whose study you read. Obviously the studies by Sonicare say that their brush is superior, and vice versa for the Oral B and Braun toothbrush.
So take your pick!
When brushing, remember that all teeth have 5 SURFACES, and brushing ONLY CLEANS 3 of them!
So how do you get to the other two?
FLOSS: There are many different types of FLOSS, such as GLIDE, normal floss, and DENTOTAPE. WAXED or UNWAXED?
GLIDE is an expensive floss, but it sure is SMOOTH and is very difficult to FRAY. If you have tight contracts and are constantly SHREDDING your floss, you might want to try GLIDE.
DENTOTAPE is much thicker and is usually best if you have larger spaces between your teeth.
For LARGE spaces, there is a product called SUPERFLOSS, which has an area of a wire cleaner like thickness on it. Some people also use this to floss UNDER BRIDGES.
To aid in getting that floss under the bridges, you can use FLOSS THREADERS. These are also the same thing that you are SUPPOSED TO USE to floss BRACES. Kind of like a large sewing needle, you thread the floss through the THREADER, thread the threader under the bridge or braces, and voila, you have your floss through.
So, WAXED or UNWAXED?
It does not matter.
BRUSH FIRST or FLOSS FIRST?
Once again, it does not matter.
CAN MOUTHWASH SUBSTITUTE FOR FLOSS? NO.
Like Kevin Costner said in JFK, “Theoretical physics can prove that an elephant can hang from a cliff with its tail tied to a daisy; but use your common sense.”
Plaque needs to be MANUALLY REMOVED. Mouthwash isn’t going to do it.
MOUTHWASH: LISTERINE has been shown to kill some bacteria in the mouth. It is between 20-27% alcohol however, so don’t let your teenagers steal it!
Fluoridated mouthwashes like ACT, can help to REDUCE cavities and SENSITIVITY. This is not an overnight cure for anything, but has more of a CUMULATIVE effect.
There are active ingredients in SCOPE and the ORAL B mouthwash which also can help reduce the amount of PLAQUE and TARTAR that is built up on the teeth.
All of which is fine and good, but MOUTHWASH is NOT A SUBSTITUTE for FLOSS.
CHEWING GUM: Now this is an interesting topic…
OBVIOUSLY you don’t want to be chewing any GUM with SUGAR. Ordinary SUGAR will PROMOTE tooth decay.
On the other had, there is an ALTERNATIVE SUGAR, which not only does NOT PROMOTE tooth decay, but actually DECREASES RISK. It does this by decreasing the amount of BACTERIA that cause tooth decay.
XYLITOL: It is a relatively new finding, but it is available in such gums as KOOLERS. Unfortunately in order to receive IDEAL results, one would need to chew it several times per day, but all other things being equal, if you’re going to chew gum, TRY ONE WITH XYLITOL.
TOOTHPASTE: The most important ingredient in toothpaste is FLUORIDE. Fluoride is the main ingredient which helps to prevent tooth decay. Yes, in EXTREME EXCESS it can cause staining in developing teeth, but you’d have to eat the whole tube for that to happen.
Aside from FLUORIDE, TARTAR CONTROL may make your teeth sensitive. WHITENING AGENTS also may make your teeth sensitive.
Everything else is just FLUFF. Buy whatever you want, or what makes your mouth feel NICE.
IN ADDITION TO the main dental aids, there are several other products which may be of use to certain individual
PROXABRUSHES: These are little Christmas tree like brushes that are used to clean between the teeth. They should be used GENTLY, as not to harm the gums. They are NOT a substitute for FLOSSING.
END TUFT BRUSHES: This is a brush that just has bristles at the end. It is often needed to bend the handle in order to maneuver into the tight areas. The Oral B brush tends to bend easier than the Butler, which may need to be placed in warm water first.
CHILDREN’S BRUSHES: Some recommend using smaller head or children’s brushes in order to get into tight areas. Many of the adult brush heads are TOO BIG to get behind those back teeth, so don’t hesitate to buy yourself a SCOOBY DOO toothbrush when you buy one for your child!
PERIO AIDS: These are little toothpick like products which are used to clean around the gumline. Again, one needs to be VERY GENTLE when using this product, and ALWAYS use in front of a MIRROR.
TOOTHPICKS: These can be used to help clean the teeth, but again, PLEASE BE GENTLE. It is amazing how much DAMAGE they can do to both TEETH and GUMS.