As I was in Boots this weekend purchasing some essentials I came across a couple scouring the ever growing and exhaustive range of dental products that are on offer. They looked beyond baffled as they tried to make sense of the display in front of them. There was a variety of toothbrushes with many gadgets and gizmos, mouthwashes and toothpastes that claim to have an array of amazing qualities and healing powers, not to mention the multitude of items available to clean the spaces between your teeth. It really is a minefield and I can completely understand why people feel at a loss to know what to buy. In the dental profession I am sure we all have our own favourites but here are some basic tips to help try and see through the marketing and find effective and value for money items.
Manual toothbrush – go for a small/compact head with medium bristles. Some good examples are Sensodyne 3.5 or Oral B 35
Pulsing style manual toothbrush – more gimmick than substance, so no need to spend your extra pennies on these.
Battery-powered toothbrush – these are cheaper than electric toothbrushes but less effective and often come without a timer. They can however be handy for travelling. I appreciate budgets vary but the best long term investment and value for money is an electric toothbrush.
Electric toothbrush – clinical evidence suggests the oscillating rotating brush is the best one to buy. A timer is essential and one that times you every 30 seconds is more beneficial to achieving an even clean. A pressure sensor can also be useful. Good electric toothbrushes such as the Oral B 2000 can start from £30.
Electric toothbrush heads – small single headed brushes are best as they make it easier to access the whole mouth and are often cheaper. Don’t be fooled by fancier brush heads that say things such as ‘flossing action’, they do not floss between your teeth and you will still need to clean those areas separately.
Generally speaking with both manual and electric toothbrushes the more gadgets a brush has the higher the cost and these are rarely necessary. They end up not being used so keep it simple.
The clinical guidelines recommend to use a toothpaste with 1,350-1,500ppm fluoride. This information can be found in the ingredients listed on the back and the majority of toothpastes on the market will contain this.
It is the action of your brush that removes the plaque rather than the toothpaste so the toothpaste choice largely comes down to personal preference of flavour and texture.
Sensitive toothpastes – these can really help with sensitivity but when you stop using them usually the sensitivity will return.
Whitening toothpastes – these do not whiten your teeth but can remove surface staining making the tooth appear whiter, but be cautious with these as they can be abrasive and may cause damage to your enamel over time.
This is not usually necessary as part of your ongoing daily routine as it is good brushing and effective cleaning of the spaces between your teeth that removes the sticky plaque, however many people like the fresh feeling that a mouthwash gives them and there are times when a mouthwash can be beneficial.
Fluoride daily mouthwash (0.05% or 225ppm) – this is good for people that have a high decay rate as well as people with orthodontic appliances, limited dexterity and certain medical conditions but in order for it to be beneficial it should be used at a separate time to brushing.
Gum irritations, tenderness and inflammation – One of the most well-known mouthwash brands to help with these symptoms is Corsodyl which contains an active ingredient called Chlorhexidine but follow the instructions carefully as this can cause staining. Curasept is an alternative that contains the same active ingredient but includes an anti-discoloration system to help reduce the staining potential. One of my personal favourites is a mouthwash called Peroxyl which contains hydrogen peroxide. This is good for minor irritations, inflammation and ulcers as well as relieving discomfort from erupting wisdom teeth. These are all medicated mouthwashes and are not designed for long term use, so again follow the instructions for all these products carefully.
Bad Breath (Halitosis) – mouthwashes on the market such as Ultradex or CB12 work by eliminating and preventing the volatile sulphur compounds linked to bad breath.
Remember with any mouthwash use it a separate time to brushing and if using a mouthwash for a fresh feeling then a cheaper one will suffice.
FLOSSING AND INTERDENTAL BRUSHES
Your toothbrush does not clean the spaces between your teeth so it is important to use something to clean this area to reduce the risk of decay and gum disease.
Floss – great for cleaning the tighter spaces between teeth. If you struggle with using string style floss then try a tape style floss as an alternative.
Flossettes/Floss Picks – these provide an alternative to traditional floss but are not as effective. I only recommend these if a patient struggles with regular flossing and interdental brushes. The catapult style tend to be easier to use than the saw shape variety.
Superfloss – this is designed to clean beneath bridges where regular floss/tape will not access.
Interdental brushes – these are ideal for removing plaque and debris from the larger spaces or if you struggle with floss. They come in a variety of sizes and you often need more than one size. One of the most well-known brands is TePe. A longer handled version called TePe Angle is good if you find it tough to access the back teeth. Some of my patients do not like the feel of this particular make between their teeth and have found the Vision brushes a good alternative.