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Toothbrush Guidelines: What You Need To Know

Like mouthwash, the toothbrush dates back to a time of utter filth when chewing on a twig passed as dental hygiene.  Fast forward to the present and we have dozens of non-stick options.  From motorized to manual, soft to hard bristles, even little massaging rubber nubs for your gums, toothbrushes come in every possible variety.  With such a plethora of options to choose from, which is the best? We’ve got you covered; here’s the least boring guide to toothbrushes A-Z.

Soft or hard?  Similar to tacos, toothbrush bristles fall between these two ends of the spectrum.  Unlike tacos, evidence suggests that very few of us should be using the hard versions.  Firm bristles can wear away at the enamel on your teeth and can also do damage to your gums, causing your gum line to recede.  If you feel like this cat below while you brush your teeth, perhaps going to a softer bristle is for you.  This is where we give the obligatory message: you should check with your dentist on which is the best toothbrush for you, based on your oral hygiene.

Manual or electric?  This is an age old question that crosses all boundaries, from breast pumps to wheelchairs.  Humans are presented with the option of battery or man powered for decades.  And like razors or shopping carts, the pros and cons of each are essentially the same for toothbrushes. Electric offers you less work while being slightly more effective but are bulkier and more expensive.  Manual can be as effective with the right amount of persistence, not to mention easier to travel with and replaceable.  The choice is yours.

Size, seal and shed.  These are three important words to remember when it comes to your toothbrush.  Size matters when it comes to your toothbrush head and that size is wholly dependent on your mouth.  According to Web MD for most adults one inch high and half an inch wide is an optimal size to maneuver around your mouth, hitting all of those tough to reach places.  That number is likely based on the average adult mouth, which of course isn’t the same for everybody.  Talk to your dentist blah blah blah.

Seal.  You can never go wrong with American Dental Association Seal of Approval that can be found on a wide range of products.  The gold standard of dentist approval, any product with this seal has been tested and evaluated for consumer safety and effectiveness at the highest levels.

Shed.  Every 3 to 4 months your toothbrush should be changed.  The more vigorously you brush, the faster your bristles are likely to wear.  Once the bristles start looking like the end of a burlap sack, it’s time toss that bad boy and begin anew.  Worn bristles greatly affect the efficacy of brushing, failing to remove plaque and other gingivitis-causing bacteria.

Toothbrushes are vital tools in the fight for healthy white teeth and fresh breath.  Make sure you’re using yours effectively and be happy we aren’t chewing on sticks anymore.


Mouthwashes: Effective or not?

Mouthwash, is it an effective teeth cleaning cure-all or comforting breath mint that actually doesn’t do anything?  It is an age-old question, very, very old, as mouthwash goes as far back as the Roman times.  Unfortunately for them, mouthwash in first century A.D meant human urine!

Yes, you read that right.  Romans and Greeks used urine as mouthwash, however disgusting, they rightly thought the ammonium would serve as a suitable cleanser.  The rest of what is in urine, my guess is they ignored.  Today in the 21st century, mouthwashes come in as many flavors and types as ice cream but the question persists, is it effective?  Like any good scientific answer, all signs point to yes.

Of course, that magic eight ball answer is relative.  Bottom line, nothing replaces brushing and flossing everyday.  No dentist will tell you different and mine would threaten my life if I led you to believe otherwise.  However, there are enough reputable scientific studies that prove consistent use with mouthwash can help fight plaque, bacteria causing gingivitis and bad breath.  The American Dental Association bestows its prestigious seal approval to mouthwashes if submitted scientific evidence proves their product accomplishes one of three goals.

The titles are typically doctoral but you’ll get the gist: first, chemotherapeutic products for the control of gingivitis, second, oral malodor management products and finally, fluoride rinses.  Basically they can fight gingivitis, bad breath, strengthen teeth and fight tooth decay.  Today, mouthwashes are broken into 4 different categories: Fluoride, Cosmetic, Antiseptic, and Natural, available in many flavors and in combination.

Why so many? As they tell kids in elementary schools, “Everyone is unique.”  While that is up for debate, the variety of mouthwashes we actually need is pretty simple.  Here’s a run down of which does what:

Cosmetic: Freshens breath and is easy on teeth but doesn’t fight the root of the issue, which is bacteria.  Cosmetic mouthwashes are strong tic-tacs basically.

Fluoride: Contains sodium fluoride, which strengthens teeth while fighting tooth decay.

Antiseptic: This fights the whole gambit of oral issues and has chlorhexidine gluconate, a bacteria fighting chemical, which if overused can cause discoloration of teeth.

Natural: Everything comes in natural form these days.

As every drug commercial advises, “It’s important to consult a medical professional before (fill in the blank).”  In this case talk with your dentist about which type of mouthwash works best for you.  He’ll weigh your oral hygiene needs that best fit with what is on the market.