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    Your Guide to Dental Care Products

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    With so many dental care products on the market today, how do you know which to choose? From toothpastes to toothbrushes to mouthwashes, get the facts you need to make decisions about your oral health.

    Toothpastes

    The best strategy for selecting a toothpaste is to ask your dental hygienist or dentist to recommend a product.

    Then look for those with the American Dental Association's (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This means the product has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness and that packaging and advertising claims are scientifically supported. Some manufacturers choose not to seek ADA approval. Remember, the seal means the ADA agrees it is safe and effective, but it doesn’t evaluate or endorse their performance.

    Always pick a toothpaste with fluoride to prevent cavities. After that, it’s a matter of personal choice. Use Continue reading below...

    the one that tastes and feels best. Gel or paste, wintergreen or spearmint, all work alike. If an ingredient bothers you, or if your teeth are sensitive, try another product. If the problem continues, see your dentist.

    Toothbrushes

    Bristles are a main factor in toothbrush choice. Most dentists recommend soft bristles, for adults and kids, especially if you have sensitive teeth or gums. Hard or stiff bristles are not more effective at removing plaque or stains and can actually cause damage to your teeth and gums.

    Pick a toothbrush head size that easily fits your mouth and touches one or two teeth at a time. That means an infant or a young child needs a very small one.

    Ask your dentist which features and bristle head design will work best in your mouth.

    Replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Get a new one sooner if the brush looks worn or frayed. Bristles that fan out or spread mean it’s time to for a new one.

    Manual vs. Powered Toothbrushes

    Are you better off with a powered (electric or sonic) toothbrush or a manual model? It’s a draw. The key to good oral hygiene is correct and effective use of the brush. A powered toothbrush makes it easier to do the job correctly. Other advantages include:

    • Easy to use if you:
      • Have a medical condition like arthritis that makes it hard to use your hand
      • Are elderly
      • Are physically challenged
      • Have misaligned teeth or teeth with uneven surfaces
      • Have braces and other orthodontic appliances
    • An electric toothbrush can be fun to use, and you might brush more often or longer as a result.
    • They may improve oral health. At least one study has shown that the long-term (4 to 6 month) use of powered toothbrushes lowered the amount of plaque on the teeth of people with periodontal disease.

    They minimize or eliminate tooth-staining. The scrubbing effect of powered toothbrushes may be superior to manual toothbrushes in possibly reducing or even totally removing surface stains on teeth.

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    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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