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Brush up on habits to keep teeth and mouth healthy

Brush up on habits to keep teeth and mouth healthy

Mark Mahoney, Guest columnist
Published 11:19 a.m. ET Nov. 5, 2018

 

 

As we transition post-Halloween into the fall, looking toward maintaining healthy teeth (as part of a healthy lifestyle) is an important concern. Some issues to consider range from selection and appropriate use of a manual toothbrush to use of floss. Some recommendations to consider gleaned from the experts is the focus of today’s blog as well as some suggested sites to access for additional information.

 

Manual toothbrush

The maximum recommended time of a toothbrush is three months. The most important characteristics of the “perfect” toothbrush are soft or extra soft bristles, Medium and hard bristles can be too abrasive and hurt the gums and won’t remove plaque as well as a softer bristle, according to Jessica Hillburg, associate dean at the New York University College of Dentistry. In addition, choose a brush with multilevel or angled bristles.

 

Electric toothbrush

A review of clinical studies showed that over time, electric toothbrushes reduce plaque 21 percent more effectively than manual brushes.  A round oscillating head brush was found to produce significantly greater reductions in gingivitis when compare to one with a vibrating head. Look for a brush with a two-minute timer and pressure indicator for potentially better efficacy.

 

Mouthwash

Use of an antimicrobial mouthwash to help address bad breath should contain active ingredients such chlorhexidine, chlorine dioxide, and cetylpyridinium and essential oils like eucalypto, menthol, thymol, and methyl salicylate.  For fighting plaque and gingivitis, look for the active ingredients cetylpyridinium and chlorhexadine.  In addition, consider a mouthwash with fluoride, if needed.

 

Toothpaste

Those individuals affected by gingivitis and bleeding gums should look for toothpaste with stannous fluoride says Tiffany Delaney, a registered dental hygienist in New York.  Studies have shown that incorporating toothpaste or mouthwash that contains potassium nitrate into one’s routine can significantly decrease sensitivity in those persons suffering from sensitive teeth. Reconsider use of charcoal (or other similar type) toothpastes, which are too abrasive or “natural” toothpastes that don’t remove plaque as effectively.

 

Floss

Little floss sticks do not wrap around the teeth as well as the traditional floss, which you roll around your finger.  According to Jessica Hillburg, associate dean at the New York University College of Dentistry, “the best type of floss to use is a thicker, more rigid rather than a slick, thin floss. Thinner floss may be easier to slip in-between teeth, but it does not grab hold of the sticky plaque and food debris like thicker floss will.”  Although flossing is best, the American Dental Hygienist Association recommends a water flosser unit that delivers water pressure of 50 to 90 psi (pounds per square inch), a level that both healthy and inflamed gum tissue can withstand without damage.

For additional information on healthy habits for oral care go to the following website:

https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/best-practices-for-healthy-teeth#1

For an additional resource on dental care basics go to:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20045536

Again, thanks to AARP, Healthline, and the Mayo Clinic for their valuable input.

 

Mark A. Mahoney, Ph.D. has been a registered dietitian/nutritionist for over 30 years and completed graduate studies in Nutrition & Public Health at Columbia University. He can be reached at marqos69@hotmail.com.

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