|It's the tooth! The cost of dental care|
"Your electric toothbrush
can be like your personal trainer," says Dr. Pollowitz. "For most people
-- even people who are very diligent, you see across-the-board better results
when they are using a high-quality electric toothbrush."
He stresses "high-quality," with the bells
and whistlesbuilt in, such as timers and chimers that let you know
precisely when you've brushed a full 30 seconds for each quadrant
and when you reach the final goal.
Well, you can't say the dental-product companies
aren't trying their hardest to make toothpaste fun and functional.
The current crop of choices includes pastes geared to give a cinnamon
rush (scratch-and-sniff label on the box to smell before buying),
to make teeth "white, shiny and healthy," to control plaque
and to smack down tartar (aged plaque).
There are even pastes that ensure
organic-food fans don't violate their dietary preferences, even with a non-ingestible
product. Kiss My Face, for example, offers a product with "certified organic
aloe vera." Only you know how important organic toothpaste is to you.
about the products with more medical claims, such as tartar reduction. How important
are these qualities?
Ask your dentist or dental hygienist. Do you have
a problem with significant tartar buildup? If you're thinking, heck,
why not throw it all in: Get a paste that reduces tartar and plaque,
whitens, brightens and does your taxes while it's at it -- think
again. Less could be more: Do you wash with an anti-dandruff shampoo
if flakes aren't a problem for you?
Still, it couldn't hurt, could it? Some dental products
potentially could. Whitening toothpaste, for example, may be too
harsh or abrasive for your enamel. Always look for the American
Dental Association's seal of acceptance on a product, and follow
your dentist's directions regarding the type of paste best for your
Now, what's the problem we seem to have with flossing? Don't look
over your shoulder; statistically, chances are you're one of those
who need to hear this: According to a recent national survey sponsored
by McNeil-PPC Inc., only 24 percent of U.S. households use dental
As you might have guessed, the choices of floss and
the devices for easing its use have multiplied. There are now "advanced
technology" flosses with a "low coefficient of friction,"
those that come in premeasured "servings" and even a gentle
battery-powered version called the Hummingbird. Can this get any
those who prefer a mechanical aid, there is the Reach Access plastic hand-held
flosser (for kids, there's something called Wild Flossers, with plastic dinosaurs
securing the floss).
In case there's still some confusion as to why it's
important to do this dental deed, Saland spells it out: "It
displaces the food between teeth -- and the plaque between teeth."
Both Saland and Pollowitz say it's very important
to keep oral bacteria down -- because the same germs go through
your system, affecting heart health and more.
Flossing is one thing you can do, "that increases
your life expectancy the most," says Pollowitz. It's no exaggeration
to say that periodontal disease, which flossing fights, can be a