Ask the Dentist: Your Common Tooth Care Questions

When it comes to your teeth, you may have some simple questions about basic dental care. But when you arrive at the dentist, you forget to ask or maybe feel as though it’s a silly question. This month, we’re answering the questions we frequently receive.

Q: How do I pick the right toothbrush?
A: There sure are a lot of toothbrushes out there to choose from! While it doesn’t really matter what brand of toothbrush you choose, it is important to pick the right toothbrush based on a few other factors: type of bristle and the size and shape of the head.

First, choose a brush that has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval on it.

Second, whether you decide on manual or powered, choose a toothbrush that you like and find easy to use, so that you’ll use it regularly. Some people may find powered toothbrushes easier or more fun to use.

Next, look for a soft-bristled brush with a small head. The soft bristles ensure your gums stay healthy and the smaller head enables you to reach around each tooth a bit more.

Q: How often should I brush and floss?
A: The ADA recommends brushing twice a day. It’s also best to floss at least one other time during the day. However, if you have a lot of cavities, you might want to try brushing more often, such as after each meal.

Q: Is it better to brush first or floss first?
A: It doesn’t matter, as long as you do both!

Q: Do I have to use mouthwash?
A: It is not required, but in some cases, we recommend it. Using mouthwash helps rinse items from the mouth, but it’s not a substitute for brushing or flossing. If you use one, be sure it has the ADA seal on it.

Q: There are many whitening products out there. How do I choose one?
A: It depends on the results you want. If you just want slightly whiter teeth, you might consider trying a whitening toothpaste. Whitening toothpastes contain polishing or chemical agents to help get rid of surface stains, but they do not contain bleach. While perfectly fine for general whitening, they can only whiten your teeth by about one shade.

None of the home-use whitening toothpastes can come even close to producing the same effect we can do at the office with our new Zoom. The Philips Zoom! WhiteSpeed is a scientifically advanced teeth-whitening procedures applied here at the office. It can whiten your teeth by several shades in less than an hour.

Over-the-counter bleaching products are not endorsed by the ADA, because the organization believes that professional consultation is important to ensuring safe and effective use. If you must use an at-home whitening kit, choose one with some customization of the mouthpiece for a better fit and better results.

Most importantly, if at any time you experience a prolonged change in the color of your gums or an increased tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages, stop using the at-home whitening kit and see your dentist immediately.

Your turn: What questions do you have for Dr. Moore? Send them to and they could be featured in a future newsletter.

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