Dental care: The best, worst and unproven tools to care for your teeth

Is it true that taking probiotics may help you from getting gum disease? Is it essential to use dental floss? A lack of consensus among medical professionals makes it difficult for people to answer these and other basic medical concerns. University at Buffalo researchers are now working to sort truth from fantasy when it comes to whether oral hygiene products really help prevent gum disease. Journal of International Academy of Periodontology’s October edition has an article on the efficacy of different mouth hygiene equipment. As a consequence, beyond using a toothbrush to clean one’s teeth, only a few self-administered treatments offer extra protection against gingivitis and periodontitis. There is currently inadequate data to support any additional oral hygiene treatments, according to Frank Scannapieco, DMD, PhD, lead investigator and professor of oral biology at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine.

The results, he claims, will assist dental professionals and the general public in identifying optimal methods for avoiding gum disease, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affects almost half of Americans 30 and older (CDC). The study reported in the article, Scannapieco adds, “will prevent the start and development of periodontal disease, provided they are done frequently and correctly.” There are also two other researchers involved in the study: first author and dentist Eva Volman, who graduated from UB and now works at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health; and Elizabeth Stellrecht, UB’s temporary director of the library’s health sciences section.

When it comes to oral health professionals and patients, Volman adds, “I hope this article consolidates the essential information in a manner that is thorough, accessible and particularly useful.” Basic toothbrush, interdental brush, water pick and mouth rinses with chlorhexidine gluconate (CHX), cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) and essential oil (Listerine) are tried-and-true methods of oral hygiene. Scannapieco believes brushing your teeth is an important part of good oral hygiene since it is an effective method to reduce dental plaque. Research also shows that interdental brushes and water picks reduce gingivitis better than other interdental oral hygiene equipment, and both should be used in conjunction with regular teeth brushing to avoid gum disease.

Listerine and other essential oil-based mouthwashes have been shown to substantially reduce plaque and gingivitis when compared to other types of mouthwashes. Scannapieco believes toothpicks were helpful for monitoring gum health even if they weren’t efficient at combating gingivitis. Gum disease may be detected by gently probing the gums with a toothpick and checking for blood. This is how people can identify it early on. Toothpaste and mouthwash containing triclosan have been shown to decrease plaque and gingivitis, however the chemical has also been related to cancer and reproductive problems. Many of the most widely used toothpastes in the United States no longer include the antibacterial ingredient triclosan.
According to the findings, electric toothbrushes are no better at eliminating plaque and gingivitis than a regular manual toothbrush at doing so. Dental floss, the basis of interdental cleaning, has little documented evidence that it reduces plaque and gingivitis. Scannapieco, on the other hand, advises not throwing away your dental floss just yet.

“Despite the fact that toothbrushes and floss have received very little research attention, they are nevertheless vital. For individuals with crowded teeth, floss is particularly helpful in removing plaque from the spaces between them. Regular flossing also lowers the chance of developing cavities between your teeth “Scannapieco makes the statement. Despite their findings, the researchers concluded there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that mouthwashes containing tea tree oil or green tea, as well as anti-inflammatory chemicals like hydrogen peroxide and sodium benzoate and fluoride, did anything to decrease gingivitis. The use of probiotics as a gum disease prevention approach is untested, despite the fact that it seems promising. Dietary supplements do not seem to enhance gum health, according to the study’s findings. There was inadequate proof that professional plaque removal (known as scaling, the procedure of eliminating plaque with a scraper) protects gum disease, according to the researchers as well.

Journal Reference : Eva I. Volman, Elizabeth Stellrecht and Frank A. Scannapieco. Proven Primary Prevention Strategies for Plaque-Induced Periodontal Disease – An Umbrella Reviewournal of the International Academy of Periodontology, October 2021 Vol 23 Issue 4 [abstract]

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