Dull, uninspired, boring--yes, but a properly implemented home oral hygiene program will do more to promote and maintain your oral health more than anything else.
Brushing the teeth: Most dentists agree that toothpaste does little more than improve "mouth feel" and provide flavor while brushing the teeth. Far more important is the way the teeth are brushed, and the type and condition of the toothbrush. Some toothpastes make claims of brightening the teeth, but they do so only to the extent that they help remove adherent stain. Oxygen-based bleaching agents are not chemically stable enough to be included in toothpastes in sufficient concentration to bleach to any degree.
Some toothpastes are specifically made to remove heavy stain, and are frequently referred to as "smoker's toothpaste" or "tooth polish". This is a red flag that the toothpaste may be excessively abrasive, and may cause progressive wearing away of the tooth and supporting tissues. These toothpastes are to be avoided. Some toothpastes have therapeutic agents added, such as:
- Fluoride (sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate).
- Desensitizing agents (potassium nitrate, strontium chloride), and may be of use for those prone to either decay or dental hypersensitivity
Likewise, different toothpastes may only be commercially available in certain locations. It is more practical simply to consult your local dentist for recommendations. In most cases, though, it's more effort than the issue merits; toothpaste, for the most part, is simply toothpaste.
Mouthwashes may be broadly divided into different groups:
- Antiseptic rinses for oral malodor or periodontal disease - Most antiseptic rinses are of limited effectiveness, since their antimicrobial effect is of very short duration. The exception to this is chlorhexidine gluconate, which has a persistent effect.
- Fluoride rinses for decay prevention - Fluoride rinses are considered an adjunct to other decay prevention measures.
- Anesthetic or analgesic mouthrinses - Analgesic mouthrinses are appropriate for palliation of symptoms of oral inflammatory conditions.