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Where are these bacteria hiding? They are naturally occurring. Many of them are friendly commensals and they protect us against other harmful bacteria. In the mouth we have over 700 species of bacteria.
You will see adverts that talk of "bugs" on our tongues and cheeks but for the most part it is the ones that stick to our teeth that cause our dental problems. Do not worry too much about the other locations.
They are not easy to see as they are almost tooth coloured and anyway the ones that cause most of the problems EXIST BETWEEN OUR TEETH. We can demonstrate these bacteria (plaque/biofilm) visually by using Disclosing tablets. Disclosing tablets are a food dye that when chewed colour the bugs pink or blue.
What sort of toothbrush? Its all about cleaning between our teeth. What ever you use needs to get into the crevices and gaps, the flat big white surfaces will take care of themselves during the process .
Now there are no absolutes but we prefer a manual toothbrush (TePe/Oral B) using a specific tooth brushing action. Not all manual toothbrushes are equal, some are hopeless\damaging\too large, and not all brushing techniques succeed. In fact if you brush horizontally you will cause damage. Having said that we have a preference for manual toothbrush, it comes with the following reservations.. if you do not know what you are doing, you will usually be better off with a quality electric toothbrush. Equally I have patients that use both Sonicare and Braun brushes to excellent effect. But manual toothbrushes can be outstanding in the right hands!
Toothpaste = a creamy abrasive, usually with fluoride and various additives. If you have one you prefer then stay with it. At the moment we like Colgate's range but in certain specialist areas we recommend others. Clean teeth are about the operator (you), your technique, your thoroughness, your brush and finally the toothpaste that you use and the importance of each is in that same order. If you are concerned about fluoride, ask us.
Is there a reliable technique and what about interdental cleaning? There are a lot of tooth brushing techniques recommended by the profession but we have developed one that is easy, makes sense and does the job. However we teach it on a one to one basis! As to interdental techniques such as floss or interdental brushes, these are excellent but get your toothbrushing correct first. We like TEPE interdental brushes and Glide floss but do not assume you know how to use them. I see patients regularly "having a go" and damaging themselves. Get these items demonstrated by us.
What about mouthwashes? Various solutions that convince patients that they eliminate halitosis or in some way remove plaque. Strangely, throwing a liquid over your teeth has no more magical effects than throwing soapy liquid over the kitchen floor or your car... you need some sort agitation and a way of getting into the crevices.
Listerine... take a look at Wikipedia on this......
Corsodyl mouthwash... yes it does work but it struggles to get into difficult access areas. See my notes on Corsodyl Gel under Specialised advice.
Please be careful with all mouthwashes in children. I do not like alcohol based products particularly strong ones in youngsters below 12. The regular use of 20 % alcohol mouthwash in children with no demonstrable health gain should not happen in my opinion.