With the sun shining, lockdown restrictions gradually easing and more opportunities to see friends and family, there’s plenty to smile about, so you’ll want to make sure your teeth are ready to be shown off. Dentists have remained open throughout the pandemic, and while it’s essential to get your teeth professionally cleaned regularly, it’s also important to practice good habits with an effective at-home routine. We asked the experts for their recommendations on the best oral hygiene tools.
If you prefer a regular old manual toothbrush over electric models, Dr Will Rymer of the Expressions Dental and Cosmetic Clinic in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, recommends the range by Swiss brand Curaprox (€5.99, pharmacies).
“Curaprox do a nice range of really densely packed but fine filaments, which are really helpful for gums if the gums are any way irritated or sore,” he explains. His other pick is the Good brush by TePe (€4, pharmacies), a sustainable option created using 96pc plant-based plastic. “They have made it out of recycled sugar cane, which is ironic, but they’re nice, with a nice small, soft-bristled head,” says Dr Rymer.
For children, Dr Caroline Robins of Kiwi Dental in Carlow advises the Aquafresh range, which has options for ages 0-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12 (€1.50, Dealz). “That’s our bargain deal advice to parents — they are nice and small, and can be picked up in Dealz for a great low cost,” she says.
“We would naturally encourage all of our patients to move to a soft bristled electric toothbrush,” Dr Rymer explains. “In theory, you can do just as good a job with a manual brush, but the electric toothbrushes really help to compensate for any little deficiencies you might have in the brushing action.”
He adds that even with a dental hygienist guiding you on technique, it can be difficult to coach manual brushing, whereas electric brushes, with built-in timers and pressure sensors, can help to compensate for weaknesses in brushing and ensure you brush for long enough without scrubbing too hard.
There are two primary types of electric toothbrushes to choose from: standard oscillating brushes and sonic brushes, which vibrate rather than spin, and do so around 10 times faster than oscillating models.
In the oscillating category, all of our experts recommend the electric toothbrushes by Oral B. “They are consistently good and they always have offers online with Boots or Amazon,” says Dr Tony McLoughlin of Renmore Dental in Galway.
For a starter model, there’s the Oral B Pro 650 (€34.95, pharmacies). “That’s easy to use, it has that timer built in and pressure sensors, so it does everything that it needs to do that would encourage people to brush better,” says Dr Rymer. “Toothbrush prices can range quite dramatically, so at an entry level, it’s a pretty good start.”
On the higher end, there’s the Oral B iO Series 9 (€325, reduced from €649.99, Boots), which features 3D teeth tracking to monitor your brushing and pinpoint any areas you may be neglecting. “That’s really the top of the range electric toothbrush, if you’re really into tech gadgets and apps, as it comes with an associated app,” Dr Rymer explains. “The app tracks you and tells you where you’re concentrating your efforts and where you need to improve. It has a pressure sensor with a warning light, so for people who have abrasion, erosion or sensitive gums, it will warn you that you’re pressing too hard — the sort of damage you only really know you’ve got a problem with once it’s too late, so it’s great to have a bit of feedback from the brush.”
If you want to start your child on an electric brush, the Oral B Junior (€47.99, Argos) is suitable for ages six and up. “I really like the Oral B Junior,” says Dr Rymer. “It’s easy to use and very basic — there are no bits to go wrong basically so that works really nicely, with lots of bright colours for kids.”
In sonic toothbrushes, Dr Rymer uses the Spotlight Oral Care Sonic (€110, SpotlightOralCare.com), founded by Irish sisters Dr Lisa and Vanessa Creaven. “A lot of manual brushes have quite bulky heads, but the Spotlight sonic has a really neat, small little head with nice soft bristles on it so it’s ideal for getting into those awkward spots — the back of the mouth, wisdom teeth,” he says of the brush, which includes a timer and three speed settings. “I think the sonic brushes have a more natural feel for people who are familiar with manual brushing. With the oscillating brushes, it’s a slightly different technique.”
From the classic tape to interdental brushes to hi-tech water flossers, there are many options to choose from when flossing, but Dr Robert Bowe of Bowe Dental Clinic in Limerick notes that it’s important to go for something that doesn’t feel like a chore.
“What I’ve noticed is flossing is a bit of a hassle for patients — they find it hard to get floss in between the teeth. As patients get older, their manual dexterity can reduce, so floss can be quite tricky,” he explains. He notes that gum disease tends to be a bigger problem in adults rather than tooth decay, as when the gum recedes, there are spaces in between the teeth, which he suggests tackling with TePe Interdental Brushes (from €4, pharmacies).
“It’s the things that patients can feel that they’re making progress with, and they find them easy to use. Floss is not easy to use, but the TePe Interdental Brushes are good, and patients can buy them in a number of different sizes so they can find the one that’s right for them,” Dr Bowe notes.
For deeper cleaning, dentists recommend following up your flossing or interdental brushing with a water flosser. All of our experts favour the Waterpik, with Dr Robins highlighting the Waterpik Cordless Advanced (€95.60, Amazon) as the most user-friendly. “I can’t recommend them enough. Granted, they can be messy and wet, but you can get this waterproof cordless one and use it in the shower,” she explains.
Dr Bowe advises the Waterpik for patients who have dental bridges and implants. “It gets in and around and underneath an implant or bridge, so that’s very popular with patients,” he explains.
Dr Rymer adds that water flossers are typically “kinder to the gum” than dental tape, particularly for those with sensitivity. He likes the Philips Sonicare AirFloss (€84.99, Argos). “The Philips one is really good — it’s rechargeable with a little reservoir for water and mouthwash on the back,” he says.
He also recommends the Spotlight Water Flosser (€89.95, SpotlightOralCare.com), which is similarly cordless and rechargeable. “It has four different shaped tips to optimise cleaning in different parts of the mouth, so they have a tip which is specifically for cleaning around brackets on braces, which is nice,” he explains, adding that it features three operating modes. “It has variable pressures as well, so you can turn it down if the gums are a bit tender.”