For better overall health, watch your mouth: Poor oral hygiene can be an indicator (or even a cause) of serious health problems. These nifty gadgets will keep your teeth and gums in great shape.
The Right Toothpaste
To keep teeth healthy and bright, look for a toothpaste that targets your dental issues -- for instance, a formula that whitens, offers tartar control, or is designed for sensitive teeth.
Crest Pro-Health Clinical Gum Protection ($5, amazon.com) helps fight gum disease.
"Unwaxed floss does a better job of cleaning because it's not slick," says Craig Zunka, D.D.S., president of the Holistic Dental Association. However, if your teeth are too tight to accommodate the unwaxed variety, go with a waxed or silky-coated floss.
Tom's of Maine Antiplaque Floss ($3.50, tomsofmaine.com) is perfect for getting into tight spaces.
"It moves fast and strokes the teeth more than you could do yourself," Zunka says.
Philips Sonicare FlexCare+ Rechargable Sonic Toothbrush ($190, philips.com/store) has five brushing modes to target specific concerns, such as gum care.
Often a bumpy surface on the back of a toothbrush, these scrape and dislodge odor-and cavity-causing bacteria from the tongue and cheeks.
Colgate 360-Degree Surround Toothbrush ($3.99, amazon.com) features a textured tongue scraper.
Using pressurized water to dislodge plaque and bacteria between the teeth and under the gumline, an irrigator can flush bacteria from hard-to-reach places, says Chris Kammer, D.D.S., president of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health. Use before or after brushing.
Waterpik Ultra WaterFlosser ($60, waterpik.com) features 10 pressure settings for a customized clean.
Fluoride: Yea or Nay?
Fluoride protects the teeth from damage caused by acid and helps strengthen enamel. Some consumers have raised concerns that getting too much fluoride could lead to fluorosis (white spots on the teeth), especially in kids.
Problems like these really come from ingesting too much fluoride in foods, water, and other beverages, Zunka says: "There are no fluorosis risks associated with fluoride in toothpaste, unless you're swallowing it regularly." And, he adds, "if you have dry mouth or gum recession, a fluoride toothpaste can help make your teeth more resistant to decay."
To decide what's right for you, talk to your dentist.
Read more: Tips for Healthy Teeth and Gums
© 2014 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. All rights reserved.