What Hygiene Products Actually Protect Your Teeth?

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Enjoying a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime requires making a commitment to practicing quality oral hygiene at home. When combined with scheduling regular appointments to see Dr. Scott Santos and our entire team at Seaside Family Dentistry, daily brushing and flossing can work to help prevent the buildup of harmful oral bacteria that can lead to the development of tooth decay and gum disease.

While your oral hygiene remains important, so too does using the best tools possible for protecting the health of your teeth. Whether probiotics actually prevent gum disease, how often you should floss, if at all, and what type of toothbrush you should use are all questions that matter to your long-term oral health. To answer some of these pressing questions, researchers from the University of Buffalo set out to separate fact from fiction regarding which oral hygiene tools actually work the best at helping patients prevent gum disease.

In a paper published this month in the Journal of the International Academy of Periodontology, the research team examined the effectiveness of a variety of oral hygiene devices.

Their findings? Only a few of the more fringe oral hygiene alternatives actually provided any additional protection against the development of tooth decay and gum disease.

Let’s take a look at what researchers found effective and ineffective.

The Good

Unsurprisingly, what researchers determined as the most effective tools for protecting an individual’s teeth and gums are the items most people already use on a daily basis. The basic toothbrush, interdental brush, water pick where all found highly effective. So were mouthwashes that contained ingredients such as chlorhexidine gluconate (CHX), cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), and essential oil.

Tooth brushing remains the cornerstone of any successful daily oral hygiene routine and continues to act as a reliable way of preventing tooth decay and gum disease, according to the research team. Additionally, interdental brushes and water picks performed better at reducing gingivitis when compared to more traditional methods such as dental floss. Researchers stated that the use of these types of tools should always be done in addition to daily brushing to prevent gum disease.

Among the different types of mouthwashes examined by researchers, those using CHX, CPC, and essential oils were proven highly effective at significantly reducing gum disease and plaque buildup.

While not as effective at fighting the development of gingivitis as flossing, toothpicks were a useful tool for judging gum health. By gently prodding gum tissue with a toothpick and looking for signs of bleeding, patients could potentially detect the early signs of gum disease, according to researchers.

The Bad

Certain types of powered toothbrushes, probiotics, dietary supplements, and different types of mouthwashes were unable to support their claims of helping to improve an individual’s oral health.

Electric-powered toothbrushes were found as being no more effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis when compared to a traditional toothbrush. Researchers also found insufficient evidence that mouthwashes based on tea tree oil, anti-inflammatory agents, green tea, hydrogen peroxide, or sodium benzoate were successful at reducing gum disease risk.

Additionally, while the use of probiotics remains a promising option for preventing gum disease, they remain unproven. Researchers were unable to find any evidence probiotics could help to improve gum health or prevent plaque buildup.

The Ugly

Toothpastes and mouthwashes that contained triclosan were able to significantly reduce plaque and gum disease, however, the compound has been linked in other research to increasing the risk for certain types of cancers. Triclosan has been removed from most brands of toothpastes in the U.S.

Dr. Scott Santos is Here to Help

Protecting your oral health starts with practicing quality oral hygiene at home. However, a truly healthy smile requires scheduling regular exams and cleanings with Dr. Scott Santos and our team at Seaside Family Dentistry. Contact us today to schedule your next dental appointment.