dental product recommendations
While many commercial dental products on the market contain similar ingredients, some of those ingredients are more beneficial than others. Here are some of the things we look for when recommending toothpaste, floss, mouth rinse, and other products to our patients.
Most commercial toothpastes are designed to be acidic in order to increase shelf life, and all contain foaming agents and strong flavorings in order to help us “feel” like they are cleaning our mouths. But acid, foam, and flavor do nothing for the health of the teeth and gums. When choosing any home-care product, we always recommend that you seek out brands that are more alkaline, and contain a few key ingredients that have been proven to be effective in controlling bacterial plaque. Here are some ingredients to look for:
xylitol and fluoride
The first and most important ingredient we look for in a toothpaste is xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It has a sweet flavor, but has also been shown to have anti-bacterial properties that are especially effective in controlling decay.
If you have sensitive teeth, your toothpaste might be the culprit. The active ingredients in both tartar-control and whitening toothpastes can increase tooth sensitivity for many people.
If you are trying to determine if your toothpaste is contributing to your sensitivity, try a brand that isn’t just for sensitive teeth, but also does not claim to whiten or reduce tartar.
Unlike sugar or other sweetening agents, xylitol is also more alkaline in nature which goes a long way in the fight against bacterial plaque. If you seek out a toothpaste with only one of the ingredients we recommend, xylitol is the most important.
We also advise that you use a fluoride toothpaste. Applied directly to the teeth in small doses, fluoride continues to demonstrate positive effects in strengthening the enamel. However, we do understand that many people prefer not to use fluoride at all. For those people choosing a non-fluoride toothpaste, we strongly recommend using a brand that contains xylitol as one of the main ingredients.
baking soda, salt, and tea tree oil
Many natural toothpaste choices will contain other ingredients that have been shown to have beneficial effects in the mouth. Of these, baking soda, salt, and tree tea oil are the ones we recommend most.
Many people avoid flossing because the floss gets stuck or shreds between the teeth. For these people, a little time experimenting with different brands of floss can often make the difference between an easy flossing habit, or no habit at all. If your teeth are particularly tight and difficult to floss, try using a waxed floss or a brand specifically designed for tight teeth, such as Glide . Your dentist can also often help with samples or recommendations specific to your needs.
Regardless of the type of floss you use, we do not recommend pre-threaded floss unless there are significant dexterity issues. Threaders make it nearly impossible to wrap the floss around the tooth and get it into the gum crevice where the bacteria are most likely to hide. Threaders are okay to use when children are just learning how to floss, but once the finger dexterity improves, the transition should be made to regular floss.
mouthwash and rinses
In most cases, we do not advise the use of mouthwash. For a few individuals, we may prescribe the short-term use of a mouthwash to help balance the pH of the mouth or remineralize the teeth, but the mouthwashes we prescribe for these uses are not generally available over the counter.
Most commercial mouthwashes are highly acidic and contain a great deal of alcohol, neither of which is healthy for the teeth or soft tissues. But more importantly, mouthwash in general is ineffective in addressing the conditions it claims to cure. Gingivitis cannot be cured with a mouthwash. The only effective way to control gingivitis is to regularly get underneath the gums with a toothbrush, floss, or other dentist-recommended tool or device. And mouthwash is not an effective way to control bad breath either. Most bad breath comes from periodontal conditions like gingivitis and gum disease. A mouthwash may mask the odor from these infections for a brief period of time, but most commercial brands do nothing to actually address the underlying problem.
That being said, there are some specialized mouthwashes that contain both fluoride and xylitol and are also alkaline in pH. These seem to be very effective for long-term use in situations where chronic decay is difficult to control. However, the long-term use of any mouthwash or rinse should always be prescribed and monitored by your dentist.
gum and mints
Gum and mints are not necessary to dental health. However, many people enjoy them and there are certainly products available that contain health promoting ingredients, rather than a lot of acid and sugar. We’ve listed our personal favorites here, but any product you find that does not contain sugar and lists xylitol as the first or second ingredient is likely a good substitute.
| Print view |