[Editor’s Note: This article is part two of a three part series on dental care products. You can also read part one and part three.]

Toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. It’s been a while since these three basics were the only oral hygiene choices for consumers. Today, we have far more dental care product choices to consider.

The question is, with all the oral hygiene products available today, how do you decide which ones to use regularly, which to try, and which to leave to the experts? It helps of you know what they’re all for, why they’re important, and who should be using them.

With that in mind, and assuming you’ve already read the first blog in this three-part series, let’s continue our overview of dental care products.

Dental Floss

Today, many, if not most, dentists agree: that dental floss is an essential dental care product.

Today, many, if not most, dentists agree: that flossing is an essential part of oral care.

Levi Spear Parmly, the “apostle of dental hygiene,” gets the credit for inventing dental floss around 1819. For Parmly, flossing was the most essential part of oral care. Today many, if not most, dentists tend to agree.

In 1882, commercially produced, unwaxed silk floss first became available to the public. Dentists have been trying to get people to use it ever since.

  • What it does: Dentists regularly recommend dental floss to help remove plaque from teeth and prevent it from building up between teeth.
  • Why it’s important: Just as Parmly suspected two hundred years ago, plaque build-up between teeth is the leading cause of dental diseases such as dental caries and gingivitis. Today, we know: regular flossing can eliminate up to 80% of plaque, according to the American Dental Association.
  • Who should use it: As soon children’s teeth begin touching one another, dentists recommend using dental floss once a day, either before or after brushing.

In an effort to make flossing easier, products such as floss picks have been introduced. While these work a little differently than floss and fingers, they may be a good alternative in some situations. Talk with your dentist about whether they’ll work for you.

Water Flossers

Sometimes called a water pick, a water flosser or irrigator is a dental cleaning device. You use it to spray a thin stream of water between your teeth and at the gum line.

  • What it does: Water flossers remove particles of food and plaque to help prevent tooth decay.
  • Why it’s important: According to Waterpik, the leading maker of water flossers, they “are clinically proven through published independent and university studies to improve your gum health, remove plaque and bacteria, and reach areas that you can’t get to with a toothbrush or string floss.”
  • Who should use it: Anyone can benefit from using a water flosser. However, you shouldn’t use them as a substitute for regular brushing and flossing.

Dental Picks

Are you one of those people who just love relaxing into the dentist’s chair for a deep, intense dental cleaning? If so, you may have considered buying a dental pick or scaler for use at home. You may want to think again.

  • A dental pick or scaler is not a recommended dental care product for use at home.

    Maybe you’ve considered buying a dental pick or scaler for use at home. You may want to think again…

    What they do: Dental picks or scalers are the long metal tools with twisty, pointed ends that dentists and dental hygienists use to scrape away plaque, tartar, and stains.

  • Why they’re important: you just can’t remove all plaque, tartar, and stains using only products made for consumers. Dental picks are tools designed for use by trained professionals in specific situations. When used correctly by a pro, they are highly beneficial to your oral health.
  • Who should use them: Please, leave picks and scalers to the dental pros. Unlike nylon toothbrush bristles or silk dental floss, this method can harm your teeth because it is far too abrasive for regular use. It can be dangerous for at-home use, as well. After all, one little slip and you could end up with a bloody gum, or worse.

Gum Stimulators          

Who doesn’t love a good massage? Well, sometimes your gums need a nice massage, too. For that, a gum stimulator may be your best friend.

  • What it does: Gum stimulation promotes blood flow to the gums, which helps keeps them young and healthy.
  • Why it’s important: When used together with proper brushing and flossing, gum stimulation helps prevent periodontal disease.
  • Who should use it: While it’s good for anyone to stimulate their gums from time to time, dentists typically recommend gum stimulators to help promote healthier gums for people who have receding gums or other gum diseases.

More to Come: The Dental Care Products Overview Continues

Part one of this series featured the tried and true dental care products we all know — toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Next up: teeth whitening, denture care, and some emergency dental care products that you might want to keep handy around your home.

To learn more, read part one and part three of our dental care products overview.

If you suffer from gingivitis, tooth decay, or simply want to prevent dental problems from occurring later, you might be looking for new ways to improve your oral health. The American Dental Association recommends using floss to remove plaque from between your teeth at least once a day, but many people dislike the hassle of flossing. You might
be wondering if water flossers, also known as water picks, are as great as their manufacturers claim.

Good Oral Hygiene: What are the Most Helpful Tools?

Floss and water picks both have the goal of removing the plaque, tartar and food particles that irritate the gums and lead to tooth decay. The pick uses water pressure to flush debris from between the teeth. With traditional floss, you drag the floss along the surface of the tooth to scrape debris away. While traditional floss can be purchased for a few dollars, a water pick can cost between $30 and $70. That said, most models are quality made and should last quite a while before you’ll need a replacement.

Water Picks versus Traditional Floss: Which is Better?

Both tools can be helpful for cleaning, but the water pick may not have the power to remove firmly attached plaque. For this reason, it’s not recommended as a replacement for floss but rather as a complementary tool. If you’ve struggling to find the drive to floss, using a water pick is certainly better than nothing. However, your best bet is using both.

Technique Matters: How Do You Properly Floss?

You might be looking for a water pick because you believe flossing isn’t working for you, but since the pick isn’t a replacement for traditional floss, you should consider improving your technique. People who feel that floss is pointless are often not doing it properly. It takes more than simply slipping the floss between each tooth and then calling it a day.

Floss works by scraping the plaque from the surface of the teeth, which means that you must pay careful attention to what you’re doing. Focus on getting close as you can to the root on both sides of the tooth. It’s safe to gently pull the floss beneath the gums, but you should be sure to keep the pressure on the surface of the tooth versus the gum tissue.

Practice Makes Perfect: How Do You Use the Water Pick?

Dentists recommend using the water pick at least once a day. Your best bet is to start with the floss, scrape and loosen as much plaque as possible, and then blast it all away with the water pick. Using the pick should be self-explanatory. The only thing you really need to remember is to be careful to avoid aiming the stream of water straight down toward the root of the tooth. Instead, keep it close to a 90-degree angle. Aiming toward the root could result in shooting a stream of water straight into the gums, separating them from the teeth and causing pain or injury.

For more information about hygiene practices and oral health, please contact us today.

Ways to Avoid a Painful Visit to the DentistIf you are like many people, a visit to the dentist is one of the most painful and stressful appointments that you endure. And you have to go twice a year. Some avoid the dentist because they are nervous about the possibility of a cavity or because they fear the drill. Whatever the reason, too many people skip their important dental visits out of anxiety.

However, ignoring these appointments can damage more than just your oral health. Poor dental care can lead to infections, strokes and heart disease. You can avoid a painful dental visit and smile more. Here are a few suggestions we hope will help:

1. Find a dental team you can trust.

Trusting your dental team will go a long way toward easing your fears and your pain. Anxieties are related to many types of fears.  Therefore, find a professional who is able to read your cues, answer your questions and calm your concerns. If you trust the person doing the work, you will be better able to get through the appointment.

2. Prepare a list of questions to ease your concerns.

Once you find a professional you trust, prepare a list of questions to help you feel more at ease. Think deeply about your fears and concerns about your visit. Then, ask for clarification on any procedures.

A few common questions that might lessen your anxiety include:
• Can you explain what you are doing with my teeth?
• What does that (tool) do?
• How could I improve my oral hygiene?
• Why is it necessary to do ____ (procedure)?
• What are my options for that tooth?
• If I get nervous, what signal can I give you to stop?

3. Consider meditating before your appointment.

Meditation, essential oils and deep breathing are not for everyone. However, these can be helpful and calming before a dental visit.

For example, try dabbing a little chamomile or lavender essential oil on your temples or at your pulse points for relaxation. You could also use a heated neck wrap or squeezable stress ball before and during your appointment.

During the appointment, take care to breath slowly and deeply using your diaphragm. This can help counteract the adrenaline that may be coursing through your body. Clear your mind and think happy thoughts. Also, try to smile throughout the procedure to keep your spirits up.

4. Keep your regular appointments.

Going to the dentist regularly can prevent many problems with your teeth. For example, you will have fewer cavities and be less likely to require complex dental work, such as a root canal.

People who skip appointments are at risk for larger problems and more extensive procedures. Frequently cancelling or rescheduling appointments can lead to poor oral health. However, it also increases anxiety. The longer you put off your visit, the more worked up you may get. Therefore, schedule the visit, put it on your calendar, and make it a point to attend.

5. Practice good oral health every day.

Many people are tempted to attack their teeth with extra vigor right before an appointment. However, aggressively brushing a tooth that seems discolored or flossing until your gums bleed is not a good idea.

You may be worried that your hygienist or the dentist will judge the state of your mouth. However, last minute attacks on a tooth will be obvious to the oral professionals. In addition, you may do more harm than good.

Therefore, make sure that you brush at least twice a day and floss regularly to keep your mouth happy and your smile beautiful.

A dental visit does not have to be painful. With the proper care and preparation, you can have a calm and comfortable appointment.

Read next: 5 Reasons Why You Need Dental Insurance 

Do you want to keep your teeth? If so, brushing and flossing need to become habitual. Why? Because if you don’t embrace brushing and flossing, you could have unpleasant and painful consequences like bleeding gums and rotting teeth.

You may develop excruciating dental abscesses. Your teeth may all fall out, but only after causing you indescribable pain. Teeth that don’t fall out may become so loose that they move around in your mouth.

What Happens When you Skip Brushing and Flossing?

At some point, you’ll almost certainly develop bad breath. Your teeth will start to look discolored; they may turn yellow or take on a brownish or blackish color. Sticky gunk called plaque will accumulate on your teeth and eventually harden into calculus or tartar.

Plaque, calculus and tartar are all loaded with bacteria and toxins that inflame the gums and cause cavities. If the cavities are allowed to progress, you will start to experience severe tooth pain whenever you try to eat.

Meanwhile, your gums will begin to shrink and pull away from your teeth. They’ll develop pockets where bacteria and toxins hide and multiply while they eat away at your gum tissue. At some point, your gums will shrink so much that they will no longer be able to hold your teeth in place. As a result, your teeth will get loose and start to fall out.

What Causes Problems With Teeth And Gums?

Food particles get stuck in your teeth whenever you eat. At any given moment, millions of hungry bacteria are scavenging for food inside your mouth.

They feed on the food particles stuck in your teeth, and the longer you wait to remove these food particles by brushing and flossing, the more bacteria these food particles will attract.

As long as there is something good to eat, these invisible invaders will hang around in your mouth and feast on whatever they find. Over time, they will make a total mess of your teeth and gums.

As they consume the food particles stuck in your teeth, they produce acid. The acid eats away at the protective enamel covering your teeth, and the next thing you know, you have cavities. Meanwhile, all those tiny bacteria are emitting volatile sulfur compounds that produce bad breath.

Can I Develop Other Health Problems If I Don’t Take Care Of My Teeth?

Not caring for your teeth and gums can have devastating consequences that might not become obvious until you reach your 30s. By then, you could be in the market for gum surgery and dentures.

However, if you address the situation by committing to healthy oral care immediately, your dentist may be able to stabilize your condition and keep things from getting worse. Unfortunately, dentists cannot reverse the damage that’s already been done. To prevent further deterioration, you will have to take exceptionally good care of your teeth and gums for the rest of your life.

Commit to Brushing and Flossing Regularly

All of these problems can be easily avoided with proper oral hygiene and regular dental care. When you brush and floss every day, your teeth and gums will not develop the problems caused by food particles stuck in your teeth.

When there are no food particles for bacteria to feed on, they cannot take over your mouth. Thoroughly brushing all the surfaces of your teeth will get rid of about 65 percent of food particles. Proper flossing between teeth will remove the rest.

Read next: 4 Most Overlooked Oral Health Problems