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Dental Care Products

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

Toothpastes

With the number and types of toothpastes on the market, the best strategy for selecting among these products may be to simply ask your dental hygienist or dentist what the greatest concerns are for your mouth and which product he or she recommends.

After consulting with your dentist or hygienist about your oral health's greatest needs, look for products within that category (for example, within the tartar control brands or within the desensitizing toothpaste brands) that have received the American Dental Association's (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. The ADA's Seal of Acceptance means that 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 the ADA's Seal of Acceptance. Although these products may be safe and effective, these products' performance have not been evaluated or endorsed by the ADA.

Always pick a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride toothpastes have been shown to prevent cavities. The ADA recommends using a fluoride toothpaste displaying the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The ADA also recommends the use of fluoride mouth rinses, but not for children under age 6, because they may swallow the rinse.

Finally, some degree of personal preference comes into play. Choose the toothpaste that tastes and feels best. Gel or paste, wintergreen or spearmint, all work alike. If you find that certain ingredients are irritating to your teeth, cheeks or lips, or if your teeth have become more sensitive, or if your mouth is irritated after brushing, try changing toothpastes. If the problem continues, see your dentist.

Toothbrushes

One of the main factors in deciding on a toothbrush is the bristles. Most dentists recommend soft bristles, especially for people who have sensitive teeth or gums. Both adults and children should use a toothbrush that has soft bristles. Toothbrushes with hard or stiff bristles are not more effective at removing plaque or stains and can actually cause damage to your teeth and gums.

Be sure to select a toothbrush head size that can easily fit into the mouth and is capable of brushing one to two teeth at a time. With this in mind, be sure to select a toothbrush with a very small head for a very young child or infant.

If you are unsure of what features to look for or the best bristle head design for cleaning your teeth's unique contours and alignment, be sure to ask your dentist or hygienist for assistance.

Toothbrushes should be replaced about every three months or earlier if the bristles begin to look worn or frayed (bristles that fan out or spread is a sign that it is time to get a new toothbrush).

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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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