We’ve all spent a lot of time alone or wearing a mask the past two years, so you may have skipped a flossing session or two. Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced their intention to ease mask guidance across the country, it may be crunch time to make sure your smile is returned to its pre-COVID state of glory.
“Hopefully people have been using this extra time at home to care for their teeth!” said Amanda Lewis, a Dallas-based cosmetic dentist. “But, if they haven’t, the key to getting back into a routine is to make sure you establish one.”
According to Lewis, the stakes are pretty high when it comes to maintaining your oral health, largely because the mouth is a gateway for the rest of the body.
“The inflammatory cells that are active when a person has a periodontal condition or inflammation in their gum tissues can affect other areas of the body. It can make blood pressure harder to control and it can even affect a male’s prostate levels, so it’s important to keep that oral inflammation down,” Lewis said.
Lewis said that a good and an effective routine involves brushing twice a day, flossing and utilizing a mouthwash or rinse of some kind.
Dr. Matthew Messina, clinical director at the Ohio State Upper Arlington University and a spokesperson for the American Dental Association, told HuffPost that when looking for the best oral hygiene products, you should always choose items that bear the ADA seal of acceptance, which can be especially helpful when trying to sort through the overwhelming number of products on the market.
“When a product has this seal of acceptance, you can know that it is something that has been independently tested to be safe and effective when used as directed,” Messina said.
If you want to revive your oral hygiene routine at home, this list of ADA-approved products suggested by the experts is a good place to start. You can also see for yourself whether an item has been accepted by the ADA using the product search resource on their website.
A bad breath-targeting rinse ideal for sensitive mouths
Lewis said that she prefers the more natural and alcohol-free chlorine-dioxide mouth rinse by Closys. This naturally activated and pH-balanced formula won't irritate or burn sensitive mouths and earned the ADA seal of approval for effectively targeting bacteria and reducing the causes of bad breath, rather than just masking odors temporarily. One reviewer
on Amazon called this rinse a game-changer.
A pack of popular and highly rated whitening strips
Messina said that before looking for at-home whitening products, you first need to address the reasons your teeth might not be at their brightest shade: "Whitening won’t solve issues like plaque buildup or things like decay. These need to be treated before teeth can be whitened or else it could make teeth more sensitive."
Once you get the go-ahead from your dentist, these Crest no-slip grip whitening strips with over 10,400 five-star reviews on Amazon can be a safe and effective way to lift stains from teeth without harming enamel, according to the ADA. When used once a day for 30 days, Crest claims these strips can whiten teeth up to eight shades with no sensitivity and one reviewer
claimed that her own dentist remarked on how white her teeth were.
A great general fluoride toothpaste that addresses a number of concerns
Messina told HuffPost that when choosing a toothpaste, it's always best to look for one that contains fluoride in addition to being ADA-approved. Crest's Pro-Health 8-in-1 fluoride toothpaste uses sodium hydroxide to target a variety of oral health concerns, from gingivitis to enamel erosion and plaque buildup. It also has over 20,000 five-star reviews on Amazon and had one Amazon reviewer
claiming that it was the best toothpaste that they had ever used. (This deal comes with two tubes of toothpaste.)
An ADA-approved electric toothbrush with over 66,500 five-star reviews
Messina said that although it’s possible to get just as good of a clean with a manual toothbrush as you can with a powered one, sonic brushes can be good for people with limited dexterity. According to Phillips Sonicare, this electric sonic toothbrush can remove up to five times more plaque than manual brushing, even in harder-to-reach places like along the gum line and in between teeth. It features two intensities and also indicates how long you should spend brushing each area to avoid over-brushing. A pressure sensor notifies you when you are pressing too hard, making this a great option for people with gums that are sensitive or recession-prone.
A total care fluoride mouthwash with glowing reviews for everyday use
According to the ADA, Listerine's Total Care anti-cavity mouthwash offers six oral health benefits when used daily. It uses sodium fluoride to help prevent the development of cavities, strengthen teeth, restore enamel and kill bad breath-causing bacteria.
Messina told HuffPost that in most cases, alcohol in mouthwash is good; however, alcohol-free options may be better for individuals prone to dry mouth as long as it still has the ADA seal of acceptance. You can get the zero-alcohol version
of Listerine’s Total Care mouthwash, also on Amazon.
A great way to clean in between teeth if you struggle with regular floss
Messina said that although traditional flossing is highly effective, opting for a powered irrigation tool such as a water flosser can be good for individuals that have limited dexterity or wear braces.
This water flosser by Waterpik comes with ADA seal of approval and over 74,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. It uses a pulse-modulation technology for maximum plaque removal and has a hydro-pulse massage mode to help stimulate gums and improve circulation. The 360-degree rotating tip also ensures that the pressurized water reaches all surfaces of the teeth.
A well-loved fluoride toothpaste for gum health
If gum health is one of your main concerns, this highly rated and ADA-approved gum detoxifying toothpaste from Crest may worth trying out. It uses an activated foaming formula to better penetrate harder-to-reach areas in the mouth, specifically along the gum line, while neutralizing harmful plaque and bacteria. One reviewer
on Amazon said that this toothpaste helped to eliminate their gum bleeding.
This deal comes with three tubes.
A solid choice for daily flossing
"Flossing is a habit that we [dentists] value just as much as brushing. I recommend finding a way to make it easy to incorporate it into your routine, like keeping a couple of floss picks in areas where you consistently find yourself," Lewis said.
DenTek's no-shred and no-break flossing picks have over 40,600 five-star reviews on Amazon and utilize a scrubbing-like floss that can help remove plaque even between tightly spaced or crowded teeth. Each pick is also coated in fluoride for added dental protection, and one other side features a minty fresh tongue scraper for tongue cleaning.
A good general soft-bristled and anti-bacterial manual toothbrush
When it comes to manual toothbrushing, Messina said that a good soft-bristled toothbrush used at least twice a day can be just as effective as a power-operated option. The Pro-Sys soft toothbrushes are ADA-approved and made with optimal end-rounding bristles that prevent harmful bacteria growth on the toothbrush and in the mouth. Additionally, the ergonomic handle is also antiseptic in order to harbor less gunk than other toothbrush options.