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    Decoding the Oral Health Aisle: What to Look For in Toothpaste, Floss, and Mouthwash

    When you walk down the oral hygiene aisle at the store and are staring at the many dental products available, it can be overwhelming to know what to choose. 

    Fluoride toothpaste or whitening? Waxed or unwaxed floss? Anti-plaque or anti-cavity mouthwash? Here are a few tips for what to look out for when choosing your toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash.


    Toothpaste and brushing is the number one necessity to maintaining your oral health. However, with so many options, it can be hard to know which one to choose. Here are a few things to look out for: 
    1. American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance: The ADA grants toothpaste manufacturers a seal of acceptance based on an evaluation of clinical trials. For a list of ADA approved products, visit the ADA website

    2. Fluoride: Fluoride is a mineral that is found in water. It helps strengthen teeth and can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40%.  When looking for toothpaste, those with fluoride can help protect your teeth. 

    3. Added Ingredients for sensitive teeth: If you have sensitive teeth, consider choosing a desensitizing paste with either strontium chloride or potassium nitrate as an added ingredient. You can also choose a toothpaste that contains baking soda, which is less abrasive.  


    Brushing alone isn’t enough to keep your mouth healthy. Flossing is critical to keeping tooth decay and gum disease at bay. Here’s what to look for when choosing floss

    1. Mono v. Multifilament: Nylon floss, or multifilament floss, is what you’re probably used to seeing. It’s a thinner type of floss that works really well with tight contracts between the teeth but can shred easily. Monofilament floss is made of a single strand of polytetrafluorethylene (PFTE) fiber, the same material that’s used in high-tech Gore-Tex fabric and non-stick coatings. This floss slides easily between teeth and can be shred-resistant.  

    2. Interdental brushes: If you’ve had braces, you’ve likely come across these interdental brushes. These small brushes are shaped like trees and can be used to clean between teeth and under the gumline. They’re a very effective choice for those with periodontal disease.  
    If it’s been a while and you need a quick brush up on how to floss, ask your dentists for their recommendations on technique!  



    Many people forget about this step in the dental care routine. Mouthwash can help improve your breath and supplement your oral health. Here’s what to look for when choosing mouthwash: 
    1. Decide on your goal: There are several different kinds of mouthwashes each that have a different goal. To pick one, first you have to decide what you want your mouthwash to do.  

    2. Cosmetic or therapeutic: Cosmetic mouthwash is primarily to freshen breath. If you’re looking to fight halitosis (bad breath), choose a mouthwash with a strong scent. However you’re looking for something to help with tooth decay, you want a therapeutic mouthwash, such as one with fluoride. Consult your dentist to find out what kind is best for you. 
    While these are just a few suggestions for how to tackle the dental aisle of your local pharmacy. What remains most important is that you brush your teeth and floss regularly. As always, if you have any questions, consult your dentist about the best products for you.