The wide array of products in the dental care aisle in your local pharmacy can have your head spinning. How do you choose the right products and avoid the harmful ones? Hopefully this article can help you distinguish between the good, the bad, and the unnecessary. Also check out my other article titled “5 Dental Products to Avoid.”


We’ll start with the basics. Toothpaste is an absolutely essential product. You must brush your teeth with toothpaste at least twice a day for about two minutes each time. How do you choose the right toothpaste? As you might know, there is currently a debate between those who prefer toothpaste with fluoride and those who refuse to use fluoride. While I won’t go into the specifics about fluoride, I will say that I recommend choosing products with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, which makes the claims on the packaging more trustworthy. Choose toothpaste that is best for your oral needs. Many toothpastes have ingredients that fight tooth sensitivity, gingivitis (early-stage gum disease), bad breath, or hardened plaque called tartar. Stay away from toothpastes that have additives, such as whitening agents, which can break down tooth enamel.


Choose a brush with soft bristles, which won’t damage your enamel. Hard-bristled and even medium-bristled toothbrushes can be too abrasive on your teeth and gums. You might also consider an electric toothbrush. Many people tend to brush their teeth incorrectly: applying too much pressure and using harsh sawing motions as opposed to a gentle circular motion. An electric toothbrush can do the work for you, applying the best motions for your teeth and helping prevent harsh manual scrubbing. The shape and size can vary depending on what’s comfortable for you and the size of your mouth. Generally, smaller heads are easier to maneuver. Also, heads with varying size bristles can be very useful for getting into the deeper gaps between teeth and those hard-to-reach locations.


Not all floss is created equal. You’ll notice that some floss is single strand, while other floss is double, and then you also have weaved floss, dental tape, dental picks, etc. If your teeth are tightly spaced, consider thinner options. Thus, if your teeth are crowded, look for single-strand varieties, which are as thin as floss can get. Weaved floss or even dental tape are great options if you have large gaps between your teeth. And flossing picks are helpful if you have difficulty using regular floss. For instance, people with health conditions such as arthritis or reduced mobility that stems from aging, might have difficulty manipulating floss around their teeth. In those cases, flossing picks are for you!


Mouthwash is another essential item. Different mouthwashes tackle different dental problems. Some help reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis; others contain fluoride to help fight cavities. Some can control bad breath. Choose a mouthwash that is right for you. If you have a dry mouth, you might consider a mouthwash that is alcohol-free. A dry mouth increases the growth of bacteria, worsening tooth decay and bad breath. Additionally, look for mouthwashes that are antimicrobial, antiseptic, or germ-fighting. Stay away from cosmetic mouthwashes that claim to whiten your teeth.

Tongue Scraper

The last essential item is a tongue scraper. It is useful in fighting bad breath and killing bacteria. Any tongue scraper you choose should be fine. Just make sure it doesn’t scratch your tongue to the point of bleeding or pain.

An average person will not need any other items from the dental aisle. If you use these five as you should, you will be just fine. Remember that the most important step of your dental hygiene and health is seeing your dentist regularly. I am Dr. Onatsky, and I am happy to assist you with all your oral health needs. Call today to schedule an appointment: 718-621-0827. Onatsky Dental Clinic is located at 2960 Ocean Ave., 1st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11235. We look forward to seeing you!