More than a quarter of U.S. adults have untreated tooth decay. Almost half of U.S. adults over the age of 29 have some level of gum disease, with about one in ten suffering from severe gum disease. Gum disease impacts your health and greatly increases the risk of tooth loss.
You only have one set of teeth as an adult. By taking measures to improve your oral care and seeing a dentist regularly, you can keep your teeth. The good news is that advancements in dental products are helping people improve their oral care. Here are some of the top products for dental hygiene effectiveness.
It’s estimated that a manual toothbrush only removes half of the plaque that’s on the teeth. Most people struggle to spend the right amount of time, brush in the right pattern, and hold the toothbrush head at the right angle. Studies show that an electric toothbrush helps clean teeth effectively. In fact, one study took 60 participants, split them into two groups (electric and manual), and compared the build-up of plaque after a six-week period.
The manual toothbrush users ended up with a mean plaque score of 43.786% at the end of the study. Those using electric toothbrushes had a mean score of 20.491%. It became clear that an electric toothbrush is better at removing plaque.
When shopping for an electric toothbrush, there are two main decisions you make. Do you want a smaller, round toothbrush head, such as the Oral-B, that spins one way and the other? Or, is the more oval, elongated toothbrush head of a Sonicare better?
A study took a look at that, too. Seventy-nine participants joined the study. The participants didn’t brush their teeth at all for a day and then were examined by a dentist. At that point, the participants were given an Oral-B PC 7000, Oral-B 3D Excel, or Sonicare Advance electric toothbrush to use. The study found that both Oral-B options reduced plaque by close to 68%, while the Sonicare toothbrush reduced it by just over 59%.
Smart toothbrushes are gaining ground. These electric toothbrushes sync to an app on your phone to tell you if you’ve spent the right amount of time on each tooth. If you missed a spot, you’ll know. If you’re not brushing at the right angle, using too much pressure, or using round motions vs. back-and-forth strokes, these toothbrushes inform you.
Enamel Care Toothpaste
Your tooth is made up of many nerves and blood vessels that run up into a pulp chamber. That’s surrounded by a hard tissue called dentin, and the hard enamel covering that protects the dentin. The foods you eat and beverages you drink can wear down the enamel. Wear and tear through grinding also weaken enamel. Once enamel is gone, it’s gone. You can cover it with a sealant or veneer, but the enamel doesn’t regrow.
You can help protect against the loss of enamel by using toothpaste that is designed to help strengthen the enamel you have.
Enamel strengthening toothpaste contains higher levels of fluoride. That fluoride collects the phosphates and calcium that acidic foods and beverages leech from the teeth and pushes them back into the tooth.
People love the minty-fresh flavor of mouthwash, but some are not that beneficial and actually harm your teeth. Any mouthwash with alcohol dries the mouth, reducing the saliva that washes away bacteria and food particles. That’s damaging to your teeth’s protective enamel. Focus on an alcohol-free mouthwash that contains fluoride to help strengthen enamel.
One newer mouthwash uses a patent-pending formulation of nanosilver to loosen plaque. The formula adds xylitol, a sweetener that is proven to reduce the bacteria levels in your mouth that increase the risk of cavities and gum disease. Xylitol also increases the amount of saliva in your mouth. The final ingredient in this mouthwash is calcium, which helps strengthen teeth.
You’ll also find several xylitol-based types of mouthwash on the market. Given the studies that show the benefits of xylitol with oral health, it doesn’t hurt to see if it helps you.
You’re supposed to brush after every meal. Flossing at least once a day is advised. Even with flossing, people often miss hard-to-reach areas along the gum line. A water flosser is a device that sprays a high-pressure stream of water out. That water loosens foods and plaque bacteria from around and between teeth.
Older water flossers have a tube connecting them to the water tank. They’ve come a long way. Today’s water flossers are cordless with a small tank that you fill with water, a fluoride mouthwash, or a mix of the two. Cordless water flossers are ideal if your counter is a distance from a mirror.
A water flosser isn’t a replacement for traditional flossing, but it’s a great backup system. It removes foods that traditional floss may not reach around the back of teeth and teeth that are crowded together.
Advancements in Dentistry
Everything we’ve mentioned above is available for consumers to use at home. What advancements are reaching dental offices across the nation? Here are some of the ways dentistry is advancing.
Needle-free dentistry has been around for some time, but it’s a field that sees continual advancements. It works by sending a high-pressure, hair-thin stream of medication directly through the skin, offering anesthesia to the gums, tongue, and jaw without requiring an injection. Recent technology uses apps to monitor how the medication affects the patient and the amount that was needed, making it easier to pull up and share patient records for optimal pain management during dental procedures.
The University of Colorado School of Medicine created a dental coating that stops bacteria from forming. The acrylated hydroxazobenzenes coating lowers the risk of new cavities and helps regenerate dental pulp. Researchers say it helps stop plaque growth without staining teeth. Plus, it’s easy to apply, so patients don’t have to sit in chairs for extended periods.
Scientists are working on materials that can bond with the existing enamel and for a harder bond. Japan’s Kinki University created a hydroxyapatite film that can be wrapped around teeth. They’re still trying to come up with the best device to apply the film to best repair worn enamel.
The University of Washington researchers created the O-pH, a hand-held LED device that can measure the amount of demineralization in teeth. It’s able to determine areas where cavities are more likely to soon form.
Nothing Replaces Regular Professional Cleanings
It’s also important to see your dentist for a professional cleaning and examination at least twice a year. If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, more frequent visits are recommended. Your insurance plan may cover as many as four visits a year.
Dr. Jody Jones strives to make every visit to his office stress-free and enjoyable. Dental anxiety is real and keeps some from going for regular cleanings. Don’t let past experiences keep you from regular oral care. Take preventative measures to avoid severe gum disease and painful tooth decay. We’re here to help you maintain optimal oral health through regular cleanings. Schedule your appointment by phone or through our online appointment form.