[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.