By Drs. Seth and Dana Keiles, Northern Westchester Dental Care
Finding a quality, effective toothpaste that you like can be a challenge. I am a big proponent of fluoride, so look for products with it. Fluoride strengthens enamel and is important in fighting decay. If you are prone to cavities, you may even need prescription strength toothpaste like Prevident. Ask your dentist. I tell people to stay away from the whitening products, they are generally not very effective and often cause sensitivity.
If you have sensitive teeth, Sensodyne, Sensodyne Pronamel, Sendodyne Repair and Protect and Crest ProHealth are good choices. MI Paste is also a terrific product for sensitivity and needs a prescription from your dentist. I personally like and use Toms of Maine, Fluoride, Wintermint. It is a natural paste that tastes good.
Dental flossing is a key component of good oral health and is often neglected. Flossing is the most effective way of removing food particles and plaque from BETWEEN teeth. Brushing alone cannot do this and without floss you are much more likely to get cavities in between your teeth. Ideally, you should floss every day either in the morning or at night. I recommend you floss first and then brush to remove all of the loosened debris. It is sometimes hard to make this a consistent part of your daily routine. I suggest starting small with a goal of 2 or 3 days per week. Then work up to making flossing a daily habit.
Don’t rush and don’t jam the floss straight down into your gums. It should be a gentle motion in a C-shape between the tooth and gums. You may find that your gums bleed when you start to floss. This is a sign of inflammation. The more consistently you floss, the less you should bleed. If this is not the case or you have excessive bleeding, please see your dentist.
There are three basic types of floss: waxed, unwaxed and Glide type or tape. I like the waxed or Glide type of floss. If you have some limitation with your hands or cannot get to all of the teeth, you can also use flossing aides like a floss pick. I cannot stress enough the importance of regular flossing. A good motivating tactic is also a bit gross. The next time you floss look at the floss itself and smell it. It looks and smells terrible. This is what gives you bad breath and cavities and most importantly puts your general health at risk.