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Getting Right Dental Products Will Keep Teeth, Gums Healthy

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Taking care of your teeth often means making good decisions when you buy dental care products.

Sue Vause brushes and flosses regularly and sees her dentist at least twice a year, but she was not always so diligent.

"When I was in my 20s, it was a long time between dentists, so I developed some problems," she said.

Those problems are fixed. Now, she hopes the right habits and the right dental products will help keep her teeth and gums healthy. Charlotte Peterson, with the UNC Dental School, said it begins with a soft-bristle toothbrush, replaced every three months.

"With soft bristles, you're effectively able to remove the plaque off the teeth as well as minimize the risk of damage to gums as well as tooth surfaces," Peterson said.

Angled brushes are better at brushing back teeth. Big, soft handles help some people better grip and maneuver the brush. Some power brushes do a lot of the work for you.

"You have some that are less than $10. We have some that are over $100," Peterson said.

Peterson said that basically, the toothbrushes all do the same thing -- vibrate.

With toothpastes or gels, Peterson says, look for the ADA seal, which means it's been tested and meets the standards of the American Dental Association. When you do not have a brush or paste on hand, finger-fitted "brush-ups" will do.

Brushing and flossing go hand in hand. Choices range from standard waxed and unwaxed flosses and floss holders. Floss holders are fine, but using the same strip of floss could be a problem.

"Unfortunately, you're moving bacteria from one area of the mouth to another," Peterson said.

Some mouth rinses kill bacteria as well as prevent other problems. WRAL Health Team Dr. Mask said bacteria can also hitch a ride on your toothbrush. You should store it in a dry location, away from the toilet. Flushing can spray some particles into the air that could land on your toothbrush.

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