For optimal oral health, it is recommended that you visit your dentist twice per year. That leaves 363 days to care for your smile on your own. Do you have the tools at home to do the job well? Oral hygiene requires a basic set of tools and products that you can find at your local grocery store or pharmacy. But just like your inventory of hair or skincare products, don’t be afraid to really invest in the products that can boost your dental health. Some are non-negotiable and some our optional, but they will all work to improve your smile in between routine dental visits.
Your Tool Kit for a Healthy, Confident Smile
Before buying any dental care product, be sure to look for the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval. This ensures the product has passed tests of effectiveness and safety. After all, these are products you are putting in your mouth! Here’s a quick list of items to consider in your “Healthy Smile Tool Kit”:
- Toothbrush. Look for a soft-bristled brush. Consider an electric version if you have trouble maneuvering your brush. Always change out your toothbrush every 3 months.
- Toothpaste. Your chosen toothpaste should always contain fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. However, specialized toothpaste can also be found that have additional ingredients to combat tooth sensitivity, gingivitis, bad breath, tartar and more. What does your oral health need?
- Dental floss. Don’t miss this critical dental care tool. Flossing is what cleans 35% of your tooth surfaces that your toothbrush can’t reach. With floss, you’ll have the option of various flavors as well as waxed and un-waxed versions.
- Dental picks and sticks. These are alternative options for traditional dental floss. Picks, sticks and mini-brushes provide interdental cleaning for those with bridges, dentures or braces as well as those that have trouble navigating string floss between the teeth. Please note that these are NOT toothpicks, which can be dangerous for the soft tissues of your mouth.
- Oral irrigators. Again, a highly effective and preferred option for flossing. This is a powered appliance that shoots regulated streams of water into your teeth and gums to blast away food particles and bacteria just like traditional floss. In fact, some consider water flossers more effective than string floss.
- Teeth whiteners. The safest and most effective means to whiten your smile is with professional teeth whitening treatment from your dentist. However, to maintain your teeth whitening results at home or to combat minor surface stains, there are several over-the-counter products to try. Always ask your dentist about whitening kits or bleaching strips from the store before you use them. Most dentists also offer custom trays for a professional “take home” whitening experience.
- Mouthwash. This is often considered as an optional dental hygiene product. Mouthwash does far more than just “freshen your breath.” There are different mouthwashes that help control different dental problems, including plaque, gingivitis and cavities. Mouthwash can certainly offer the additional protection your smile needs.
- Tongue scrapers. Did you know that the majority of bacteria in your mouth lives on your tongue? This is where most cases of halitosis (bad breath) come from. To boost your oral health and reduce foul breath odor, consider a tongue scraper to eliminate bad bacteria in the deep grooves of your tongue surface.
Professional Advice for Your Unique Smile
If you are still overwhelmed and confused at the thought of choosing the right dental products to use at home, call Group Health Dental. We help patients realize the importance of daily oral hygiene while also guiding them on the best tools and products for their specific smile. Always ask our dental team if you are unsure about which products to buy. In many cases, you may need to change the makeup of your tool kit to include items that fight or prevent a certain oral health condition you are facing, such as gingivitis or teeth sensitivity.
To get expert advice on dental care at home, please contact Group Health Dental in Manhattan. We are here for our patients throughout the entire year – not just the two times you see us!