At your recall appointments, I am sure your dentist asks about brushing and flossing. How many times per day do you brush? How often are you flossing? While these are the workhorses for maintaining your oral hygiene, there are a myriad of other tools you can use in addition to jazz up your oral care routine. Below we’ll review some of our favorite dentist-approved adjuncts to brushing and flossing!
While standard dental floss works in the majority of cases, there are certain areas or situations that require a little more TLC and some extra tools. In these areas, floss threaders and Super Floss are great. Floss threaders designed to be used with traditional dental floss and help get under things like bridges, orthodontic brackets, and fixed implant restorations. Super Floss has a similar function to floss threaders, but a more dynamic design. This type of floss has a stiff end to get under appliances, a spongy center to clean implants and wider spaces, and traditional floss to get under the gums.
The WaterPik! We get countless questions about these devices and if they can replace flossing. The short answer is no, but they do add some nice benefits. WaterPiks, otherwise known as oral pulsing irrigators, aim a stream of water between your teeth and flush out any debris. They reduce the number of bacteria in any pockets around the teeth. However, the WaterPik simply rinses, while floss physically scrapes debris off the teeth. When used in tandem, floss should be used first to physically clean and then the WaterPik second to flush away any debris.
The WaterPik can be especially useful for patients with denture attachments, braces, and other oral appliances. Elderly patients and those with limited manual dexterity are also great candidates for the WaterPik.
If you have dental implants or larger spaces between your teeth, your dentist may recommend something called a proxy brush. These are inter-dental cleaning brushes shaped like a Christmas tree. They are great for cleaning around implants, large spaces between teeth, orthodontic appliances, and the back of your last molars. These come in from the side and work similarly to a toothbrush to physically remove debris.
Mouthwash comes in a variety of formulations and is marketed for a number of different uses. Some are for the prevention and treatment of gingival inflammation, while others are an additional source of fluoride. Like the other tools discussed above, mouthwash is a great adjunct, but not an essential part of your oral hygiene routine. They can also be purchased over the counter, or prescribed by your dentist. You may have heard that there is a risk of oral cancer with alcohol mouthwash use, but rigorous research has discounted this claim. Mouthwash is a largely harmless way to freshen your breath and give an extra dose of fluoride, but cannot replace flossing.
If you think you need some additional tools to get your teeth squeaky clean, talk to your dentist at Metropolitan Dental Care about which of these adjuncts would work best for you!