Scientist and author, Beth enjoys living life in the slow lane. She takes time to enjoy the little things in life.
My 3 Best Buys for Good Dental Hygiene
- Pro-Sys Interdental Brush
- Oral-B Pro 1000 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
- Cremax Portable Dental Oral Irrigator
Interdental Brush vs. Dental Floss
My dentist and oral hygienist both encourage me to floss regularly. Flossing properly provides tangible benefits. For a start, there's the purely practical benefit of being able to remove that annoying piece of meat (or similar) stuck between your teeth. Then there's the effect it has on making you pay more attention to your dental hygiene. For example, if you notice bleeding when flossing, this will alert you to early signs of gum disease and encourage you to visit your dentist.
Many people find flossing difficult because they lack the manual dexterity to do it effectively. Most people need to be taught how to use dental floss properly, and this can take time and patience to learn. Some, like me, are a little lazy and can’t be bothered to floss on a regular basis unless a visit to the hygienist or dentist is imminent. So, my hygienist suggested I try an interdental brush instead of floss.
An interdental brush is much easier to handle than manoeuvring the floss string between your teeth. It’s a very tiny wire brush that is poked through the gaps between each tooth. Because the mini brush is so easy to use, I find I’m using it more often than I used dental floss. Which pleases my dentist, hygienist, and is maintaining my dental health. A successful outcome however you measure it.
What Is a Dental Oral Irrigator?
A dental oral irrigator is the latest piece of tech to address effective oral hygiene. It cleans between your teeth with a powerful jet of water rather than using a waxed thread. It takes some time to get the method right, but once you’ve mastered the controls, it's much more effective than using old-fashioned dental floss.
At the base of the irrigator device is a small water reservoir. If used correctly, this doesn’t need refilling more than once a week. When switched on, water is forced through a tiny nozzle at the top which you direct towards the gaps in your teeth. It provides powerful and effective removal of food debris. If you do this at least once a day, it helps prevent the build-up of plaque deposits too.
I use the Cremax dental oral irrigator. I like it because it’s small enough to take on holiday, and it has a USB socket for easy recharging. If you’re anything like me, the first time you try flossing your teeth with this device, water gets sprayed all over the bathroom; anywhere but between your teeth. The trick is to try out the different settings until you find the right one for you.
How to Use a Water Flosser (Without Making a Mess)
Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual Toothbrush
I used to think an electric toothbrush was an expensive indulgence, but I changed my mind after being persuaded to try one by my dental hygienist. I noticed the difference immediately. My teeth felt very smooth and clean, just like they’d been freshly cleaned by a professional. As the months went by, my dentist started to praise the condition of my teeth. Whereas before I used to need a filling every couple of years or so, I haven’t needed one at all since switching to the electric brush.
I use an Oral-B Pro 1000 rechargeable electric toothbrush. There are more expensive versions available, but I find this starter model is excellent and keeps my teeth clean and healthy. The small head can get into all the nooks and crannies around the teeth. The brush-head moves very fast, and removes three times more plaque than a manual brush.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay (dental caries) is caused by a few very specific bacteria. You need to practice good oral hygiene to prevent these bad bacteria from harming your teeth. They make acid from food sugars left on your teeth after you’ve eaten. The acid erodes the hard enamel surface of the teeth. Underneath the protective enamel are soft dentin and sensitive nerve endings. Once the enamel is broken, cavities form. If left unchecked, these cavities lead to painful toothache and the loss of your tooth.
Small cavities can be filled by your dentist with amalgam or white dental filler. This action reseals the enamel coating and prevents further tooth decay. A regular dental check-up is essential to spot these small cavities and limit the potential damage.
How to Take Care of Your Teeth
The following tips for good dental health are from The American Dental Association.
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaner.
- Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking.
- Check with your dentist about the use of supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examination.
Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Adults
The cost of regular dental care is too expensive for many and this means they make do without. A few countries provide emergency dental treatment for those on low incomes, but for most people either they or their employer must pay if they need dental healthcare.
The figures below show the shocking cost to the population in two of the wealthiest nations in the world (US and UK) where most people are responsible for paying for their own oral health care.
US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2004
- 92% of adults have had dental caries in their permanent teeth.
- 26% of adults have untreated decay.
- Adults have an average of 3.28 decayed or missing permanent teeth.
Oral Health Foundation UK 2016
- Over four-fifths of the population has at least one filling.
- On average each adult has seven fillings.
- 74% of all adults have had to have a tooth extracted.
- 29% of the population experiences regular dental pain.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Beth Eaglescliffe
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 11, 2019:
I have had an electric toothbrush for years and I have always flossed. I think I would like the irrigator, so I appreciate your giving us the advantages. I really want good teeth, so I appreciate all your tips.