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Ok, bear with me. I know getting a new toothbrush isn’t at the top of the list of most people’s Christmas list. However, as we’ve discussed before oral health influences your whole-body health. The holiday season is already a stressful time between gift shopping, traveling, and the joys and frustrations of family time; the last thing you need is to get sick mid-shopping spree. So, what are some things you need in your oral care kit to help keep you in tip-top shape? Read on.

1. Toothbrush

I know this seems obvious, but a good tooth brush is key to overall oral health. Unfortunately, there are a lot of competing toothbrush brands vying for your attention and money. So what should you look for in a toothbrush? I highly recommend getting yourself an ultrasonic toothbrush. Ultrasonic toothbrushes are different from most electric toothbrushes because of the way they clean your teeth. Unlike other electric toothbrushes that have rotating heads, ultrasonic toothbrushes vibrate tens of thousands of times per minute making them more effective at removing plaque.

Now I know what you must be thinking, “Dr. Chavez, how can I possibly take that with me while I’m traveling for the holidays?” Don’t worry, there’s a brush for that. There are several companies who make portable ultrasonic toothbrushes, that way you don’t have to worry about your oral health taking the back seat while you travel.

2. Mouthwash

The next best thing you can do for your oral health is invest in a good mouthwash. Again, there are many different ones out there. So which one should you get? If you and your dentist aren’t targeting specific problems like gum disease (aka gingivitis), dry mouth, or loss of enamel you’re best bet is to get a “total care” type of mouthwash, which will target a handful of common oral problems and help prevent them.

However, if you’re needing to target a specific concern like gingivitis, tooth sensitivity, or dry mouth, your dentist will be able to recommend or even write a prescription for a specific mouthwash that will target these issues.

3. Floss

By know you’re probably thinking, “hey doc, this is all similar stuff that I get in my goody bag after my 6-month cleaning appointment.” You would be correct. It is imperative to your oral health that you maintain the kind of care that you receive at your cleanings. That means brushing at least twice a day (if not three), utilizing mouthwash to boost your brushing, and flossing.

A lack of flossing is a leading cause of plaque/tartar build-up and the development of gum disease. If you go to your cleaning appointments and your gums bleed a lot, or you have high sensitivity, or your mouth is extremely achy after an appointment it means you should take more care to floss more. In an ideal world (especially for us dentists) our patients such as you would floss every day. But, life gets busy so flossing at least every other day is still a great goal to aim for when it comes to maintaining good oral health.

As with our first two “stocking stuffers” there are many types of floss out there. Round floss is your go to floss: thin enough to get into the nooks and cranny’s between your teeth and gums, and strong enough to withstand a thorough flossing. However, if you have trouble getting between your teeth ribbon floss is just as good as round floss for getting the job done while also making it easier on you to get in between your teeth. If you’re still having a hard time flossing due to overlapping teeth, try using floss threaders. They allow you to thread the floss directly between your teeth without the hassle of having to push the floss down from the top of your teeth.

I know a toothbrush, some floss, and mouthwash aren’t the most exciting items to have on a Christmas shopping list but taking responsibility for your oral health in between your cleanings is the best gift you can give to yourself and the rest of your body.

Wishing you all the best this holiday season,

Dr. Chavez