|It's the tooth! The cost of dental care|
Does looking through the dental
aisle of your local drugstore leave you dazed and confused? That's
not surprising. Last year, 112 new toothpastes landed on shelves,
and Americans spent nearly $4 billion on oral-care products.
The dental industry itself is a $50 billion business
-- and it can only be speculated how much of it is fueled by consumers
not making good choices. The stakes will get higher as baby boomers
age. If their childhood was the "wonder years," many are
now entering the "root-canal years."
there really is not a one-size-fits-all toothpaste or toothbrush -- becoming an
educated consumer is your best bet. Deciding which services and products you use
is a personal decision that should be made in consultation with your dentist and
"Always check with your dental professionals,"
says Dr. Richard Saland, a New York-based dentist, who says there
are many considerations to take into account, making each case individual.
To guide your dental choices, here's a look at the
items to consider, including costs and the latest advances of each.
There are brushes that whir and twirl, brushes backed with a "unique
tongue cleaner," brushes with ergonomic configurations and
soon -- brushes that whistle "Dixie." Or, that at least
play tunes from famous recording artists, thanks to a tiny microchip
transmitting sound waves from the bristles into the tooth and jawbone
directly into the ear. Word is this will be an offering from Hasbro
in the coming year.
Toothbrush types run the gamut from basic -- the familiar
manual brush, courtesy of your dentist -- to the elaborate, such
as the Dental Air Force. This "toothbrush" -- actually,
a home dental cleaning system -- uses air and a cleaner with water
to blast through the plaque barrier. It retails for $239 (and is
not affiliated in any way with the U.S. military).
The real standoff is between manual toothbrushes and
the battery-operated and plug-in "power" brushes. These
models include the Oral-B Pulsar, a disposable little battery-operator
number for about $6; the same make's microchip-designed rotating-oscillating
Triumph model, retailing for about $139; and the technologically
impressive Sonicare IntelliClean System, comparably priced.
system will remove plaque. Researchers who reviewed both manual and electric models
found, in most cases, that the manual toothbrushes removed as much plaque as their
powered-up counterparts, according to a study by the British-registered nonprofit
organization Cochrane Collaboration.
Dr. Peter Blumenthal, a dentist based in Long Island
City, N.Y., says if there's an advantage power brushes have over
manuals it's the timer. Power brushes have a timer that keeps you
brushing for two minutes at a time.
Indeed, that's key, according to most dentists who
recommend brushing your teeth for a full two minutes with fluoride
toothpaste twice a day.
do that, you say? Well, maybe you do, but statistically, that's dubious. "The
average person brushes roughly 20 seconds," says Dr. Michael Pollowitz, a
dentist in Washington, D.C. He estimates that children spend about 12 seconds
Surprised? Time yourself.