Answers To 8 Common Dental Questions


Should my toothbrush have soft or stiff bristles?

While it seems to make sense that a brush with stiffer bristles would have better cleaning power, they’re actually much harsher on your teeth and gums. The stiff or hard bristles also aren’t as flexible as the soft kind, so they don’t clean as well; soft or medium bristle brushes are better at getting in to small nooks and crannies while being much gentler on enamel and gum tissue.

Does shape matter?

When it comes to the handle of your toothbrush, shape doesn’t matter. Whatever feels comfortable in your hand is fine; concentrate on the end you’re using to clean your teeth with! A smaller brush that tapers at the end is easier than a large one for the hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.

Are electric toothbrushes really any better?

There’s no evidence that an electric brush will do a better job than the good old manual brush at cleaning your teeth. Manual brushes are cheaper, more easily replaceable, smaller and more travel-friendly, so don’t buy in to the idea that you’re missing out on superior dental hygiene by not going for an electric brush. However, they can be ideal for some people- those with arthritis or limited mobility in the hands may find it easier to maintain good brushing practices with an electric toothbrush.


How often do I need to replace my brush?

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or when you notice the bristles starting to fray. When the bristles start to break down, your brush loses cleaning power rapidly. Also make sure to replace your toothbrush after an illness; your brush can hold on to any germs you may have been carrying while sick. Along the same lines, keep your toothbrush separate from any others in the household when you’re ill so as not to spread your germs.

How about the occasional stick of gum?

As long as it’s sugar-free, chewing gum after meals can actually help keep decay-causing bacteria at bay. It works by stimulating your glands to produce more saliva as you chew, which is your body’s natural defense against bacteria and plaque buildup. Gum brands with the ADA seal are certified sugar-free and some even have additional ingredients to help keep teeth strong.

Is baking soda toothpaste a good idea?

Baking soda is great for your teeth for several reasons. Being lightly abrasive helps it scrub away stains, and it releases free radicals that help break down the molecules forming the stain. Being a mild base, baking soda also helps neutralize harmful, decay-causing acids produced by the interaction between sugar and bacteria in your mouth. The individual particles that make up many gel-based types of toothpaste are larger than the particles that make up baking soda, meaning baking soda toothpaste can actually get in to smaller spaces between teeth.


What’s the best way to floss?

Gently guide the floss between each set of teeth with a gentle back-and-forth motion. Don’t pull or snap floss down between teeth, as it’s easy to injure sensitive gum tissue or cheap dentures. For optimal cleaning, curve the floss around the base of each tooth as you progress through your mouth, and don’t forget to periodically switch to a clean section of floss as you go.

If my tooth gets knocked out, can it be saved?

Hopefully you never have occasion to use this information, but if you do happen to lose a tooth, there’s a good chance your dentist can re-implant it in your mouth if you follow these steps. Pick up the tooth by the crown only; if the root came out along with the rest, do not touch it or the base of the tooth. Rinse the tooth in milk, and then hold it in your mouth while en route to the dentist- your saliva will help protect the tooth until it can be reattached. Of course, the possibility of reinserting the tooth depends in part on how quickly you’re able to get to a dentist, so do what you can to be seen immediately.