Product Reviews

  • Tooth brushes
  • Toothpastes
  • Floss / flossing aids
  • Mouthwashes
  • Waterpicks / Water flossers
  • Canker sore products
  • Cold sore products
  • Dry mouth products

Oral Health Products – overview

Visit any pharmacy or the health and beauty section of a supermarket today, and you are faced with a large, and many say confusing, array of over-the-counter remedies and devices designed to help you tend to your hygiene and health-care needs.

There are many high-quality oral health products on the market today. There also are many products of little value. Whatever over-the-counter dental product you buy, we highly recommend products with the American Dental Association's Seal of Acceptance.

Some over-the-counter dental instruments are dangerous. Mouth mirrors can be useful but teeth scraping devices and picks can do damage in unskilled hands. Use of these products can put your lips, cheeks and gums at risk of tearing, bruising, lacerating and other injury. You also may accidentally chip a tooth.

It is always best to contact Dr.Yanik or any of our hygienists for recommendations specific to your oral needs and concerns.

Tooth brushes

Never before has there been such a dizzying array of toothbrushes on the market. Whatever toothbrush you choose, however, the most important thing is that you get a soft bristle toothbrush and use it at least 2 times a day. Moreover, how long you spend brushing your teeth is as critical as how often you brush. The staff at Dr. Yanik’s recommends that you spend 2 minutes brushing with minimal amounts of tooth paste. This ensures complete plaque removal while minimizing tooth wear and gum recession.

Mechanical vs. manual toothbrushes

Our dental team highly recommends using mechanical (electric) toothbrushes. In general, mechanical brushes work best for most people so we highly encourage their use.

Kelly: “I have a strong preference for Sonicare. The Sonicare brush has been proven to be the most efficient brush on the market – it is able to clean below the gumline and in areas of crowded teeth.”

Kathy: “I prefer the Oral B Braun brushes. They tend to be less expensive than Sonicare and the Sonicare vibrates too much for me. I believe every patient can benefit from an electric brush.”

Lisa: “Rechargeable brushes are better than the battery operated ones.”

No matter what brush type or brand you buy, your brushing technique is critical for success. The technique for brushing with a mechanical toothbrush differs from the manual brush. Be sure to ask your hygienist for brushing technique advise.


The number of options you have when you buy a tube of toothpaste can be overwhelming. Should you go for tartar control, fluoride or both? And don't forget to think about whitening toothpastes or formulas with all natural ingredients.

Our office has no particular brand preference; however, safety and efficacy are assured if the toothpaste has the American Dental Association seal of approval.

When it comes to choosing the best toothpaste for you and your family, it's important to think about your unique oral health needs. For example, if you have sensitive teeth we recommend a toothpaste containing a desensitizer (potassium nitrate) as well as avoiding any whitening or peroxide toothpastes. If you are cavity prone or have dry mouth, we recommend a prescription strength high fluoride toothpaste such as Fluoridex or Prevident.

Toothpaste Overview

Toothpaste is available in paste, gel, or powder form. Despite the many types of toothpaste that exist, there are some ingredients common to most varieties. These include:

  • Abrasive agents. Scratchy materials, including calcium carbonate and silicates, help remove food, bacteria, and some stains from your teeth.
  • Flavoring. Artificial sweeteners, including saccharin, are often added to toothpaste to make them taste better. While many people equate the flavor of toothpaste with mint, toothpaste is available in a variety of flavors, including cinnamon, lemon-lime, and even bubblegum (for kids -- or kids at heart).
  • Humectants for moisture retention. Paste and gel formulations often contain substances like glycerol to prevent the toothpaste from drying out.
  • Thickeners. Agents that add thickness to the toothpaste, including gums and gooey molecules found in some seaweeds, help achieve and maintain proper toothpaste texture.
  • Detergents. Those suds you see when you brush your teeth are from detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate, which can trigger canker sores in some people.

Fluoride Toothpaste

The most important ingredient to look for when choosing toothpaste is fluoride.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. Its use has been instrumental in the dramatic drop in tooth decay and cavity occurrence that has taken place over the past 50 years. Fluoride helps protect your teeth from bacterial plaque acid. It does this in two ways. First, fluoride makes your tooth enamel stronger and less likely to suffer acid damage. Second, it can reverse the early stages of acid damage by remineralizing areas that have started to decay.

Tartar Control Toothpaste

If the plaque on your teeth isn't removed promptly with proper oral hygiene, it hardens into tartar (also called calculus). This hard-to-remove deposit can build up on your teeth and under your gums, ultimately leading to gum disease.

There are a variety of ingredients used in toothpaste to help prevent the accumulation of tartar on the teeth. Chemical compounds, including pyrophosphates and zinc citrate, are often added and have been proven effective (although only minimally effective in many people) . Additionally, some tartar control toothpastes contain an antibiotic called triclosan, which kills some of the bacteria in the mouth.

Tartar control chemicals have side effects including causing canker sores, cheek or lip mucosal sloughing and teeth sensitivity in some people. So, watch for these side effects and weigh out the benefits for you.

Toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth

For people who have teeth that are easily irritated -- for instance, by hot or cold foods or cold air -- there are toothpastes available that are specially formulated for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes usually contain potassium nitrate (very effective) or strontium chloride (much less effective). These chemical compounds, which can take up to four weeks to offer relief, reduce tooth sensitivity by sealing exposed nerve endings in teeth. If your teeth are sensitive you should avoid toothpastes and mouthwashes with whitening/ peroxide ingredients. For additional information see [Sensitive Teeth]

Whitening Toothpaste

To help people on a quest for pearly whites, many whitening toothpastes are now being marketed for everyday use.

Almost all toothpastes “whiten” because they contain abrasive particles or chemicals that effectively polish the teeth or bind to stains and help pull them off the tooth surface.

Caution is advised with using whitening toothpastes with peroxide or peroxide derivatives. These “bleaching” agents are too diluted in toothpaste to be very effective, yet they are notorious for making teeth become sensitive.

Tips for Choosing a Toothpaste

Here are some tips to help you choose the best toothpaste to meet your family's dental needs:

  • Opt for ADAapproval.Whatever your toothpaste needs, be sure to select toothpaste that has earned an American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. Toothpastes that have earned this distinction have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness by an independent review board of scientific experts.
  • Be wary of imposters.In 2007, some toothpastes imported from Chinawere found to contain a toxic substance, diethylene glycol. The FDA is currently advising against choosing toothpaste that says it was made in China.
  • Consider your needs and the needs of your family members.As long as you select a fluoride-containing toothpaste, the best toothpaste is a matter of personal choice and preference. If you're committed to an all-natural lifestyle, you may want to opt for ADA-approved toothpastes that contain only natural ingredients. For people trying to instill good oral hygiene habits in your children, why not choose fruit-flavored toothpastes with sparkles to entice them to brush their teeth? With so many different options and combinations available, you can experiment with different brands, varieties, and flavors to find the best toothpaste for you.

*taken from and edited

Floss / flossing aids

Dental floss comes in a variety of materials (waxed, unwaxed, Teflon) and flavors (like mint, cinnamon, and bubblegum). Our staff has no brand or type preference – use whatever works for you. However, your flossing technique is most important to be safe and effective. Our hygienists will be happy to give you a demonstration. 

For people who have a hard time working with floss wrapped around their fingers, there are some products that may work better for you. Floss Picks (Dentek) are pieces of floss on a small plastic handle and Soft-Picks (GUM) are soft, latex-free bristled toothpicks to clean between your teeth. Both of these are convenient and disposable (you may even want to use them to floss in your car while sitting in traffic). In contrast to the Soft-Picks, Stimudents are firm wooden sticks designed to slide between teeth. Care should be taken with the Stimudents, as with regular toothpicks, not to injure the gums while using them.


With the abundance of choices out there – antibacterial, fluoride, breath-freshening, whitening – which is best for you and your family? It depends on your needs, yet many mouthwashes on the market today do multiple things.The use of mouthwash, however, does not eliminate the need for both brushing and flossing.

1. If you need an antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-plaque mouth wash to kill or reduce the number of bacteria that cause gingivitis, cavities and bad breath.

Listerine contains eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate and thymol solubilized in alcohol (21.6% in Cool mint/ Fresh burst or 26.9% in Original Listerine). These “essential oils” are proven to be effective in reducing bacteria while not staining teeth or altering taste like some other mouthwashes. The alcohol burning feeling can be a problem for some people, especially those with a dry mouth. Recent concerns that the alcohol used in mouth rinses (like Listerine and others) may act as a oral carcinogen have been raised, but there is to date no scientific proof (this conclusion is supported by the American Dental Association in March 2009).

Crest Pro Health claims it “kills 99% of germs that cause plaque, gingivitis and bad breath” with cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC). While it has bad breath protection for 12 hours and no alcohol, Crest Pro Health mouthwash can cause teeth to stain and temporarily alter taste (taste loss) in some people. The staining is removable at your professional dental cleaning but you may want to consider a different rinse if you experience brown staining.

CloSYS says it “kills 99.9% of harmful bacteria in 10 seconds” with “no alcohol to burn your mouth”, “long lasting breath protection” and “no sodium lauryl sulfate (a potential canker sore causing agent)”. CloSYS uses a patented stabilized chlorine dioxide (Chloralstan) as its active ingredient. It has a mild, nonburning flavor and does not cause staining or taste changes. CloSYS is available only at Walgreens (and coming soon to CVS) or online at

2. If you are concerned about tooth decay, anti-cavitymouth rinses have extra fluoride to strengthen and protect teeth from decay.

ACT at .05% sodium fluoride is the strongest over-the-counter fluoride rinse available. Read the labels – Crest Pro Health Complete, Listerine Total Care and even some ACT rinses are only .02% fluoride. Using a .05% fluoride rinse once (preferably at bedtime) or even better twice daily, along with proper brushing and flossing, is optimal cavity protection for most people.

ACT Rinses reduce cavities in children up to 40% more than brushing with a fluoride toothpaste alone. ACT Rinses have also been clinically shown to reduce root caries in adults by up to 71% more than brushing with a fluoride toothpaste alone. Furthermore, ACT has been clinically shown to reduce white spot lesions in patients with orthodontics.

People with high cavity rates or dry mouth, however, may best benefit from prescription strength fluoride products. Talk to our dental professionals about your specific situation.  

3. If you are concerned about breath-fresheningonly.

 Breath-freshening mouthwash neutralizes the foul-smelling volatile sulphur compounds produced by bacteria. Smart Mouth used twice daily (every 12 hours) is effective in controlling bad breath all day.  Breath-freshening mouthwashes, like Smart Mouth or BreathRX, are easier on the taste buds than alcohol containing rinses like, Listerine, but they aren't as effective as antibacterial rinses in counteracting plaque and gingivitis. However, CloSYS and Crest Pro Health have both antibacterial and  24hr breath protection.

Mouthwashes like Listerine and Scope simply cover up breath odors for about 20 minutes only without neutralizing volatile sulfur compounds.

4. If you already have gingivitis or periodontal disease

Clinical studies have shown that chlorhexidine, the active ingredient in prescription mouthwashes such as Peridex or PerioRX, has much stronger antibacterial properties than the ingredients in over-the-counter brands. Chlorhexidine can superficially stain teeth brown and temporarily alter taste.

5 .Whitening mouth rinses – avoid them all! They are ineffective (relative to bleaching gels and strips) yet very frequently cause annoying teeth sensitivity. We have observed that they generally do more harm than good. 

Water picks: Water Flosser & AirFloss

Water irrigation devices (or "water picks") use powerful tiny bursts of water to wash away food particles and other debris from between teeth and in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. Despite the manufacturer’s claims of “99% plaque removal”, we feel more substantial research is needed to support the claims. Don’t throw away your string floss yet.  

The Ultra Water Flosser (Waterpik) (~$60) claims to “outperform traditional floss” and to be twice as effective as string floss. They say it can remove 99.9% of the plaque on teeth and they guarantee healthier gums in 14 days. 

The Sonicare AirFloss (Philips) (~$90) delivers a powerful yet gentle burst of  pressurized air and mico-water droplets. Research shows it “gently and effectively helps improve interproximal (between teeth) gum health in just two weeks” and it “removes 99% more plaque from between teeth than brushing with a manual brush alone”.      

The elderly or people with dexterity problems and people who have braces or other attached wires on their teeth may find these water irrigation devices quite useful. 

Canker Sore / Cold Sore Products

Ambesol, Oragel and Kank-a all contain the topical anesthetic, benzocaine, which can help temporarily numb an area but does nothing to heal these sores.

Although hard to find locally but available online (, Zilactin (Benzyl alcohol) works well to form a coating on these sores that promotes healing and stops pain. This works best if used at the first sign that an outbreak is coming. Get the plain Zilactin.  Zilactin-B (benzocaine) or Zilactin-I are less effective.

Canker sores are generally triggered by some food or chemical in the mouth. If you get canker sores regularly, consider avoiding sodium lauryl sulfate, found in many toothpastes and mouthwashes, because it has been associated with causing canker sores in some people.  

Abreva is the only over-the-counter medication approved by the FDA that is proven to shorten healing time of cold sores. It contains 10% Docosanol — a unique, patented ingredient that speeds healing and helps protect healthy cells against the cold sore virus. 

Cold sores are a recurrent virus that may require a prescription anti-viral medication from your dentist or physician. 

Dry Mouth Products

Dry mouth can cause many problems including mouth sores, cheek biting, burning tongue, bad breath and cavities. Many products are available to help relieve or prevent these problems.

Dry mouth products can be divided into three categories: moisturizing relief products, oral hygiene products and saliva stimulation products. All of these products can help, but some may work better than others for you.

1.  Moisturizing Dry Mouth Relief Products  

Relieve the pain of dry mouth symptoms immediately with moisturizing products, which protect oral health and ease dry mouth symptoms of chronic moderate to severe dry mouth.

All Biotene dry mouth products benefit from a unique LP3 salivary enzyme-protein system (Lysozyme, Lactoperoxidase and Glucose oxidase) and Biotene’s moisturizing polymers. These include:

Oasis is another option. Oasis Moisturizing Mouthwash and Oasis Moisturizing Mouth Spray are formulated with a unique combination of moisturizers that help glycerin to moisturize the mouth, lock in moisture and help protect the mouth from dryness for up to two hours (known as Tri-Hydra Technology™). Oasis mouth spray comes out thick and viscous. Squirt it on your tongue and swish it around your mouth.   

2.  Dry Mouth Products for Oral Hygiene

Soothing mouthwashes that clean and refresh dry mouths, and formulated toothpastes with unique enzyme systems combine to protect dry mouth sufferers. Other toothpastes may be better to use – we especially recommend prescription strength fluoride toothpaste to help with decalcified teeth, sensitive teeth and cavity-prevention.

3.  Stimulation Products for Dry Mouth Symptoms

Stimulate saliva production by chewing gum that helps manage bad breath and relieve dry mouth symptoms. Use Biotene Dry Mouth Gum or any sugarless gum. 

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