The Dental Aisle

January 25, 2013
by Lory Laughter

The dental product section in many stores now takes up an entire aisle. In Target® last week I counted no less than 15 types of toothpaste, 9 different flossing options and 4 different powered toothbrush brands. It was a tiny bit of hygiene heaven, though probably a tad confusing for the average shopper looking to maintain oral health.

Of course, there are my favorites and brands I steer patients to purchase, but oftentimes the person standing in the aisle staring at the assortment has no other guidance than advertisements and the well-meaning opinions of friends.

Here is my simple advice for the curious shopper: soft bristles and a compact head, whatever floss you will use, toothpaste with the least amount of ingredients and always get a tongue scraper. If you keep those few rules in mind, the choices get easier.

As far as electric or powered brushes, Philips Sonicare gets my vote every time. Sonic toothbrushes provide better cleaning than manual toothbrushes for any user. My preference is the Philips DiamondClean for a few reasons. Not only does it remove 5 times more plaque than manual brushing and improves gum health in only 2 weeks, the travel case is just plain cool. Hard covered so it is not damaged in my suitcase AND I can charge the brush in the case with a USB connection to my computer on longer trips. This comes in very handy in older hotels with only one outlet. There are times I have to choose between the lamp, my cellphone charging or the clock.

On occasion, I have not been able to find a DiamondClean on the shelf at a local store, but all seem to carry the FlexCare+. This sonic brush, also known as Complete Gum Care and offers 5 brushing modes. All Sonicare brushes have a two-minute timer with quadpacer interval timer to encourage thorough brushing.

Another area where shoppers encounter confusion is selecting sensitive toothpaste. The most common ingredient to decrease tooth sensitivity is potassium nitrate and is often used in addition to fluoride. Fluoride provides some sensitivity relief, but requires higher doses to be truly effectie. Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief works very well for the relief of tooth sensitivity due to exposed root surfaces by penetrating to the nerve endings.

Probably the most searched for items in the oral care section are for tooth whitening. A smile is often the first impression we give and a white smile projects health, confidence and even friendliness, according to some studies. So, what do those of us with sensitive teeth do to obtain that white smile?

My teeth are very sensitive and to date, I have not been able to tolerate any in office whitening systems. In fact, about 5 years ago I gave up even trying. After getting a tube of Colgate Optic White™ a though came to mind. Why not combine a few technologies to see if whitening and sensitivity relief was possible for my severe case?

Keep in mind this is not a scientific study, but my results with one test - though I see promise in this regime.

Since I have veneers on my front teeth that I want replaced, whitening is necessary before the work is done. Therefore, I used my canines as my test teeth and my goal was to whiten those teeth so lighter veneers can replace my current ones that were placed in a darker shade.

My starting shadewas A4 on the Opalescence shade guide. I used my Sonicare DiamondClean and Colgate Optic White paste once daily and afterwards applied GC MI Paste. At night I used DiamondClean and Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief and again applied MI Paste. After two weeks, my teeth were at B1. This is 3 shades lighter! Since I did this in September 2012, the shade has not become darker. I simply use my DiamondClean twice daily as it removes external stain and one week of every month I brush with Optic White. When needed, Sensitive Pro-Relief for a week or ten days completely gets rid of my cold sensitivity. Soon, I will have my nice, new, whiter veneers in a shade that will never change.

There is nothing wrong with combining products to achieve a desired outcome. Browse the dental aisle and find the products that work for you. Better yet, ask your Dental Hygienist for recommendations. There is something to fit every need.