In this article, I’m going to take the time to look at toothbrushes, and paste, and floss! A quick browse along the supermarket shelves shows a wide variety of brushes, pastes and floss. I am still often asked, ‘which one is the best?’
Let’s look at toothbrushes. In all honesty, any toothbrush will do the job of removing dental plaque – if used correctly. That is, bristles angled 45° into the gum, and with a gentle jiggling action and brushing for two minutes. Having said that, there are some toothbrush features that are better than others. I would recommend soft bristles, as this reduces the risk of wearing your gums and the root surface of your teeth away if your technique is not great. A smaller head usually means you can reach the back teeth a little better. Kids toothbrushes have a thicker handle as their manual dexterity is still developing and that can help them.
Powered toothbrushes are also a great option. The clinical evidence supports that for a patient with average technique, these people will get a much better clean with a powered brush over a manual one. I’d recommend starting with a lower priced powered brush to get used to the feeling and if you feel a better clean, upgrade to a more expensive version when this one breaks.
Both powered and manual toothbrushes should be replaced when the bristles are bent and worn. This is because the brush cannot do its job properly anymore. For most people, this will mean a new brush every three months or so (or in the case of children, usually much more often)
For toothpaste, as long as it contains fluoride I am a happy dentist. Its introduction into the profession has reduced more dental disease than any other single intervention. The sensitive toothpastes can be of value if you do get sensitivity, but if you have toothache, they will not help and you should seek your dentist’s advice.
When it comes to floss, I prefer the single telfon tapes in my own mouth. It glides easily and doesn’t tend to shred. Professionally, I like waxed multi-stranded floss, and it can show me problems with filling or early tooth decay in my patient’s mouth. Other devices available include floss holders and small brushes to clean in between teeth.
Keeping your teeth healthy does create one problem – waste. Until recently, all toothbrushes ended up in land fill, but not anymore. Our practice has partnered with Terracycle and Colgate to be a deposit point for dental waste. Old toothbrushes, floss containers, used toothpaste tubes and their packaging can now be recycled. Terracycle will also donate a small amount to charity for everything we recycle
And the best bit, we don’t even mind if you are not a patient of our practice. We just want to do our bit to help the War on Waste. Just bring in your oral care waste and we’ll do the rest.