As a dental hygienist I look inside people’s mouths regularly…lots of mouths….thousands of mouths!! I can tell you your periodontal status and the depth of your sulcus with some quick measurements. I can tell if you’ve REALLY been flossing like you say you have (even though I might play along with your silly lies). I check for oral cancer, bone levels and give hygiene recommendations on the regular. I can tell you what will prevent staining and why it’s not the best idea to go to bed WITHOUT brushing; please never do that again. I take pictures of your mouth, and remove all that hard stuff that sticks to your teeth called calculus and the softer build up called plaque. I do all this and so much more! I probably lost you at “sulcus” but if you’re still reading, just know that I love my job and hygienists ROCK! 🙂 And…. if you listen to your hygienist your pearly whites will live a long, happy life. My job in a nutshell is taking care of the supporting bone and gums of the teeth. They are healthiest when they’re clean (AKA free of excess bacteria). If teeth don’t have a good support system, they will fall out, even if they don’t have cavities. Yep, us hygienists are kind of a big deal 🙂 We’re like super heroes of the mouth!!!
Because I’ve been a hygienist since last week (KIDDING), I thought I’d share some of my favorite products with you!! (I’m going on 7 years OK people!). First, there’s the toothbrush. Which one is the best?? there are so many out there it is hard to choose!! Power, manual, which is better? How long/often do I brush?? The questions are endless and I will start off by saying these are products that I like and recommend, but that doesn’t mean they are perfect for EVERYONE. If you have something you love that keeps your teeth clean, stick with it!!
The toothbrush I LOVE is the Phillips Sonicare Diamondclean rechargeable electric toothbrush (holy mouthful! say that 5 times fast!). This toothbrush is top of the line. It feels AMAZING. There are 4 different modes to brushing so you can adjust it just the way you want. I love all the colors you can choose! It charges while it sits in the glass cup (see the picture in the above link), how cool is that??? I have to admit, it thew me off at first! It also comes with an awesome travel charger that has a hard case and a built in USB that secures your investment during travel. It is a little pricey, but has a great warranty and the people at Phillips have top notch customer service. You will need to replace the brush heads about every 3 months. The actual toothbrush itself should last several years. I’ve had many patients say they’ve had theirs for 10+ years! If the Diamondclean is out of your price range, that’s OK!! while it is definitely my favorite, there are lots of toothbrushes made by sonicare that work great. There’s a built-in timer so you know you will be brushing for the recommended 2 minutes (whoop!).
My kids (ages 9 and 4) have the Phillips Sonicare for kids rechargeable electric toothbrush. There is an app available for download that interacts with the kids while they brush and keeps them excited! My kids’ favorite part was decorating their toothbrushes with the stickers that come in the box. Totally worth the investment and Phillips stands by their warranties. Very simple to use; kid friendly. About six months ago BOTH of my kids’ toothbrushes stopped holding a charge. I called Phillips and let them know. They sent me out two new toothbrushes with really no questions asked. I was super grateful and so far the new ones have been awesome!
If you’re not into the whole power toothbrush thing, that’s totally cool. Manual toothbrushing done well can be very effective. The Colgate Slim Soft toothbrush is a great manual option. It massages the gums while cleaning the teeth. Any toothbrush with soft bristles will work, however.
The Waterpik is an awesome choice for cleaning in between the teeth. It works great for ortho patients (people wearing braces). If you have braces I STRONGLY recommend getting one of these bad boys. I became hooked on the waterpik when I was in braces (round 2) as an adult. I still use it every day to clean under my permanent retainers, it’s part of why they feel so fresh and so clean clean. There is a little bit of a learning curve so read the directions before you start and maybe practice a few times. Look up a YouTube video if you have to! 🙂
My favorite flossers are the Crest Glide flossers. They live up to their name. They glide in between the teeth and make flossing a breeze! My kids love them too! If you like to floss the traditional way (holding the string), go for it! Just know that as long as you’re getting something in between your teeth each day, that’s the goal! Some people have really tiny hands or mouths, and it makes very difficult to floss the traditional way.
One product I use to clean interdentally is a Proxabrush. Its like a mini pipe cleaner and works great under braces or lingual bars (retainers cemented in after braces). It’s fairly quick to use it and it literally is like a tooth brush for in-between you’re teeth. I use it everyday. There are different sizes ranging from ultra tight to WIDE. These also work well to clean underneath bridges and around implants if necessary.
My favorite mouthwash is Crest ProHealth. It is alcohol free so you don’t feel the burn like some mouthwashes give. There are great options to choose from. I haven’t found one I didn’t like. If you enjoy the burning sensation, then Listerine might be a good option for you. Remember when using mouthwash to swish for 60 sec (1 min) before spitting in the sink.
There are many great toothpastes out there, but one that I really like is the Colgate Sensitive Toothpaste. You can use this toothpaste without having sensitive teeth (in case you were wondering). If you do have the occasional sensitivity this is a great product! Any toothpaste with added Potassium Nitrate and Fluoride (which Colgate Sensitive has both) can be beneficial if used correctly. I wouldn’t buy any toothpaste that claims to help with sensitivity unless it has those two ingredients. Colgate Total with whitening is another good option for toothpaste. It has an ingredient called Triclosan that helps fight off bacteria. When choosing a mouthwash or toothpaste, make sure you pick one that has the ADA seal on it. Then you know it’s approved by the American Dental Association, and we trust their judgment.
I hope this was helpful to some of you! Comment or email with questions! Would love to hear from you. Just a friendly reminder: If you haven’t been to your dentist in a while (like you can’t remember his/her name) you need to make an appointment! It’s recommended that you see your dentist/hygienist at least twice per year for a check up and cleaning. If you need to become established at a dentist office and live in the Treasure Valley, shoot us an email! I might know a guy… 🙂 Brush morning and night for two WHOLE minutes, floss daily (I like to floss at night before bed). Your teeth and your hygienist will thank you! 😉
P.S. I often get asked my opinion on AP-24 whitening toothpaste. I will say this: there is no magical whitening ingredient in AP-24. The ingredients are very similar to over-the-counter toothpastes that cost much less. I know of people who claim to have whitening results, but may have in fact removed surface stains. The teeth appear whiter, but that is technically not whitening. There is nothing wrong with using the toothpaste. If this product helps encourage good oral hygiene (brushing/flossing more frequently, etc.) it can be a positive addition to anyone’s home care routine. I urge everyone to do their own research and determine for themselves if this is a product they feel is right for them. 🙂
Angie has tried the AP-24 whitening toothpaste and you can read about her review and results here.