When it comes to your oral hygiene, you’ve probably already heard about the importance of flossing and brushing. But beyond the toothbrushes and the spools of floss lurks a wilderness of other dental products. Sometimes it can be hard to know which ones are actually necessary and how to use them properly.

Read this quick guide to find out more about manual versus electric toothbrushes, water flossers, tongue scrapers and other products to consider.

dental products

Manual and electric toothbrushes

Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?

As long as you're using it correctly, you can keep your mouth clean and healthy using either a manual or electric toothbrush. Still, your dentist may recommend an electric brush if they think it would be right for you. These brushes tend to be easier to use and can have some other benefits too.

For example, electric toothbrushes can help people who have trouble moving a standard toothbrush due to conditions such as arthritis or a motor disability. Their oscillating function helps make sure you clean more of your teeth's surfaces, and many toothbrushes feature a timer that informs the user when the recommended two-minute brushing period is up.

Are electric toothbrushes safe for kids?

If you're struggling to get your child to brush their teeth properly, your dentist may recommend an electric model designed for their age group.

Children's toothbrushes tend to come in fun, colourful designs and can play music or sound effects to encourage your child to brush properly. You should supervise your child's tooth brushing until you're confident that they can brush independently.

Which toothbrush is better for sensitive teeth and gums?

If you have sensitive teeth or gums, gingivitis (gum disease) or you're recovering from a dental procedure, you may find tooth brushing painful. You might benefit from switching from a stiff-bristled toothbrush to a soft-bristled brush or soft electric toothbrush heads, combined with a sensitive toothpaste.

For manual toothbrushes, avoid brushing vigorously, using gentler motions instead. Many electric toothbrushes have a dedicated sensitive mode that's lighter on your teeth and gums. Some even include a sensor that alerts you if you're using too much force.

Ultimately, the best way to figure out the right brush for you is to chat with your dentist or hygienist.

Is it ok to share my toothbrush?

Not really, no. There's a greater chance of passing on bacteria that can cause tooth decay, gum disease or other health conditions. But two or more people can share the same electric toothbrush handle when each user has separate brush heads.

Dental floss and water flossers

What is a water flosser?

Water flossers are the electric equivalent of dental floss, except they use jets of pressurised water to clean the spaces between and around your teeth instead of string.

Just like standard floss, water flossers are designed to remove trapped food particles and bacteria from your mouth. Some people find this tool more comfortable and easier to use than regular floss.

Are water flossers worth it?

Like an electric toothbrush, water flossers are often recommended by dentists for people who have difficulty keeping their mouth clean with traditional floss. They can be especially useful for people with disabilities or conditions such as arthritis that can make it difficult to use manual floss.

Unlike electric toothbrushes, though, water flossers aren't always as effective as their more manual counterpart. That’s because their less abrasive action usually only rinses the teeth, rather than scraping away plaque and sticky food. Your dentist may recommend using both types of floss together.

Can I use them on braces?

Yes! One of the advantages of water flossers over standard floss is that it doesn't get blocked or trapped by braces. Your dentist can recommend a model with an orthodontic tip that cleans around brace brackets and wires as well as your teeth.

Water flossers are also safe to use if you have other dental fittings such as crowns, bridges or implants.

Should I floss before brushing?

It doesn't usually make a difference whether you brush or floss first, as long as you clean your teeth and gums thoroughly and for the length of time your dentist recommends. Having said that, flossing first may help the toothpaste reach more areas of your teeth if there are food particles or plaque.

If you're using a fluoride mouthwash, you should use it after brushing so the fluoride will have more contact with the enamel.

Tongue scrapers

What's a tongue scraper and do I need it?

Oral hygiene doesn't end with your teeth and gums. Your tongue also contains millions of bacteria that can cause bad breath and oral health problems if you don't keep it clean.

You can clean your tongue using your regular toothbrush. First, brush your teeth and rinse the brush. Some manual toothbrush heads are designed to act as tongue scrapers when you use the reverse side, or you can use the bristles.

If you’re looking for more than a toothbrush, tongue scrapers and tongue brushes are designed to clean your tongue more thoroughly than a toothbrush. Whichever method you use to clean your tongue, it's important to scrape gently and not apply too much force.

Can you brush your tongue too much?

You should clean your tongue at least once a day or every time you brush your teeth. However, you should avoid scraping too hard – this can cause discomfort or even damage your taste

Mouthwash

Do I need to use mouthwash?

Your dentist may recommend adding a fluoride mouthwash to your daily oral hygiene routine. This can help you further protect your teeth and gums against bacteria and plaque.

Certain mouthwashes may help treat tooth decay, gingivitis, dry mouth and other oral health conditions. They can also improve recovery after certain dental procedures or soothe sensitive teeth and gums. Again, you should talk to a dentist or hygienist to figure out if any of these products would be useful for your own oral health circumstances.

Visit your local Bupa dentist

Your at-home oral hygiene routine is important. But checkups and professional cleans are just as important. No matter what products you use at home, a regular exam and a clean with a hygienist will help you stay healthy and lower your risk of problems like dental disease.

Find your local Bupa-owned dental clinic.