What oral care issues are you seeing in your practice?
Patients are more aware of the mouth-body connection. The bacteria that lives in our mouth can cause not only periodontal disease, but are associated with heart disease, stroke and diabetes. This connection is especially relevant now as these co-morbidities can potentially put patients at higher risk for COVID-19. When you combine all of these factors with patients who are past due for hygiene appointments due to the stay-at-home orders, the dental community has some catching up to do!
How can these issues be mitigated with a proper oral hygiene regimen?
The goal in achieving a healthy mouth is by keeping bacterial levels low. Factors that can help keep bacterial counts low in the mouth are a low sugar diet, regular professional cleanings, professional laser treatments and antioxidant mouthwashes.
Has anything improved in oral hygiene since you began your practice?
Patients are more aware of different oral healthcare tools available. It used to be Crest, Colgate, Sonicare, Oral-B, but now the marketplace is much more diverse. We have Coco Floss, Quip Automatic Toothbrushes, Kleen products and so on. It’s hard to keep up with all of these products! However, it’s very exciting to see a variety of options that my patients can not only choose from, but they can also find products that work within their budget, lifestyle and their oral health care goals.
What is a proper oral hygiene regimen?
1. Waterpik. It’s like a workout for your gums! It keeps gum tissue nice and strong against teeth to protect it. Start on a lower setting; a hygienist can help set the power settings.
2. Brush. Two minutes, twice a day. It’s best to stay at the gumline. A soft-bristled electric toothbrush is 95% more effective at removing plaque and harmful bacteria than a manual toothbrush.
3. Scrape that tongue! Think of your tongue like a dirty carpet. It grabs on to all of that bad bacteria where it can hide and cause bad breath.
4. Toothpaste. Steer clear of abrasive toothpaste; you can look up the abrasiveness of toothpastes online. I don't recommend charcoal—it’s like sandpaper on your teeth and will remove precious enamel that you can never get back! Charcoal makes the tooth surface more rough and can actually cause faster staining and increased sensitivity. Talk to your dentist about a recommendation for toothpaste that works specifically for your mouth.
5. Floss Daily. C-shape around each tooth between the tooth and the gums. I always tell patients that each tooth has 5 surfaces. If you are only brushing, you miss 2 out of the 5 surfaces. CocoFloss, with natural coconut extract, is one of my favorites. Here’s an extra tip. You can rub coconut oil on your gums; it’s a great moisturizer, doesn't do anything for the teeth so you still need fluoridated toothpaste to keep your teeth cavity-free. Alcohol-free mouth rinses are great, too.
What should consumers look for when choosing oral care products?
The American Dental Academy (ADA) Seal of Approval is always a great place to start. Specifically, if patients know they have a specific concern such as sensitive teeth, then I would suggest using a sensitive toothpaste with little to no abrasives. If a patient wants to whiten his teeth, then stick with a whitening toothpaste by a reputable brand. If a patient is cavity-prone, then I would recommend using a toothpaste with fluoride in it. Every patient’s needs vary, so it is always a good idea to discuss with your dentist.
What have manufacturers done right to create effective oral care products?
With some of these online startups, they’ve done a fantastic job at creating consumer awareness and accessibility. Monthly subscriptions also allow patients to stay on top of their oral hygiene game in a time when everyone is busy every minute of the day.
What more needs to be done to improve product formulas and consumer compliance?
A rating system for actual effectiveness determined by an organization like the ADA would be greatly beneficial. Social media, and articles like this, do a great job of making dental professionals aware of the most current products with evidence-based research to back their effectiveness.
Dr. Michaela Tozzi, DMD is known as one of the best dentists in the Las Vegas area and was featured in My Vegas Magazine as one of Las Vegas' top 100 doctors and dentists of the year. She is committed to providing gold-standard dental care and emphasizes preventive treatment to help maintain the long-term oral health of her patients. She believes that a good doctor-patient relationship is the key to success and loves getting to know each of her patients on a personal level.