With the variety of toothpastes and toothbrushes that are available, choosing one can be overwhelming for some people. There are toothpastes for sensitive teeth, whitening toothpastes, ‘enamel strengthening’ toothpastes and the list goes on. There are soft/medium/hard bristled toothbrushes, angled, raised bristled toothbrushes, and electric as well. With all that, what is the right choice?
The Canadian and American dental associations recommend using fluoride-containing toothpastes. The fluoride helps make your teeth more resistant to forming ‘cavities’. If your teeth are sensitive try using one that addresses this; however, to rule out other reasons for this sensitivity make sure you ask your dentist why your teeth are sensitive.
Soft bristled brushes are preferred for a number of reasons. They are gentler on the gums, and on the roots. With improper technique, it is easier to wear away gum tissue and exposed root surfaces if you are using a hard or medium bristled brush versus a soft. So, it is the technique you brush with, not the toothbrush that determines how well you clean your teeth. For people with poor manual dexterity electric brushes may offer a better result than a manual brush. It may be easier and more fun to get your child to brush with an electric brush than a manual.
If you are not sure whether you have the ‘proper technique’, next time you are at your dentist ask him/her to watch you brush and floss your teeth and give you feedback. If you want to evaluate your own brushing/flossing efficiency, there are plaque disclosing dyes/tablets you can purchase that will temporarily stain areas on your teeth you missed while brushing and flossing. Make sure you brush 2-3 times a day for at least 2 minutes per brushing episode. Remember, it is not the force you brush with but the length of time you brush that is important.
Speaking of flossing…yes flossing! How many times has your dentist asked you if you floss? The reason we are so concerned is because flossing is as important as brushing, yet most people do not floss regularly. Cavities we see forming between teeth are largely due to inadequate flossing. Toothbrush bristles will not reach between your teeth. By not flossing, you are missing close to half of your tooth structure.