9 Essential Products to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy, According to a Dentist


When you went into quarantine this spring, you probably had to cancel quite a few obligations—and if your regular visit to the dentist was one of them, your oral hygiene could be suffering right now. Plenty of issues can crop up without regular cleanings and preventative care, especially if you don't have the right dental health setup at home. And with different states facing different restrictions, it might be a while before you get an appointment (or even feel comfortable enough to go to an office). That's why Mental Floss reached out to Dr. Kyle Bogan, DDS, to find out about the essential products you need in your bathroom to take care of your teeth and gums while you wait to get back in the dreaded dentist's chair.

1. Dental Floss


Yes, you probably hate doing it, but flossing is such an important step in your dental hygiene routine for healthy gums, tartar reduction, and removing plaque from teeth.

“There's a lot of stuff on the market right now to try to make flossing more palatable for people,” Dr. Bogan says. But he cautions that, “[nothing] really replaces the good old-fashioned wrapping-around-your-fingers floss. Oral-B’s Glide is pretty much the best on the market, in my opinion.” You can find a two-pack for around $5 on Amazon.

As for floss picks, they're all the same, he says. “They don't do as good a job as manual floss, but they are perfectly fine and can be good for kids to use.” Plackers Twin-Line Dental Floss Picks ($9 for a four-pack) has two lines of floss to help prevent breakage, and they come in packs of 150.

2. Water Flosser


“If you’re going to use a water flosser, I recommend the Waterpik brand for people with braces to clear debris and for those people that are very reluctant to floss,” Dr. Bogan says. “They're better than not flossing, but despite the advertising, they're not as good as flossing.” Waterpik's water flosser ($70) is touted as the only model on the market to have the American Dental Association's Seal of Acceptance.

For those who have gum disease, gum recession, or bridge work, Dr. Bogan suggests using a water flosser pre- or post-brushing to remove debris and get things out of hard-to-reach areas. Looking to save time? Waterpik has an electric toothbrush and water flosser combo ($151) that does it all.

3. and 4. Electric Toothbrushes and Manual Toothbrushes


“I always recommend people use an electric brush,” Dr. Bogan says. “It does so much of the work for you. It delivers [a] superior level of clean." He recommends Oral-B ($40) or Philips Sonicare ($70) brands, but says Oral-B uses smaller heads, which tend to be easier on smaller mouths.

“The surprising thing is no one should really ever be using a hard- or medium-bristle brush,” Dr. Bogan says. “The problem is those bristles often cause more damage than good. It should either be soft or extra soft, so people [who] are sensitive should use extra soft.”

If you plan on doing the work yourself with a manual brush, like these soft brushes from Colgate ($4 for six), take a look at your toothbrush's head to evaluate its condition. “You definitely want to look at bristles on your manual toothbrush, and if they're bent or warped or worn, it's time to replace the toothbrush or the head on the electric brush,” he says. For electric toothbrushes, he suggests swapping in a new head every three to four months.

5. Toothpaste


“There's a lot of controversy out there about fluoride, but as far as preventing decay and keeping your teeth healthy, that's the main ingredient that matters,” Dr. Bogan says. Some fluoride toothpaste options to consider are Colgate Cavity Protection with Fluoride ($8 for a six-pack) or Crest Toothpaste Gum Detoxify Deep Clean ($14 for three).

Just be wary of charcoal toothpaste, he warns. “It can be abrasive and damage teeth. I had a few patients where I actually had to dig charcoal out of their gums.” If you have sensitive teeth, using toothpaste like Sensodyne Pronamel Fresh Breath ($10 for two) can help reduce sensitivity and pain.

6. Whitening Kits


“The most effective way to whiten your teeth at home with an over-the-counter product is with Crest Whitening Strips," Dr. Bogan says. You just have to use the strips ($45 for 44 strips) once a day for 30 minutes to help remove years of teeth stains—and Crest claims you’ll start seeing results in three days and full results in 20. Teeth may become more sensitive after using white strips, so consider switching to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth if this happens to you.

7. Orthodontic Wax


Whether your kids have braces or you do, rubbing wires is one of the biggest irritations you’ll face. Use orthodontic wax like Genuine Orthowax ($11 for a nine-pack) for a clear solution that can relieve irritation from brackets, springs, and wires in between orthodontist visits.

8. Temporary Dental Filling Materials


“The best advice I can give to people that know they have either a broken filling or a broken tooth is to look for an over-the-counter filling material,” Dr. Bogan says. “You kind of roll it up and push it down to where the crack is and wipe away the excess or just chew it away and it’s generally pretty good for a temporary fix.” This Zinc Oxide Eugenol Cement Dental Care Kit ($25) can help seal a cavity so no food or bacteria gets in, and it can also help with bridgework and other dental issues. If you simply have a cracked or broken filling, consider Refilit Maximum Strength Filling Material ($11) for a quick fix.

9. Mouthwash


Dr. Bogan advises using mouthwash in the morning and fluoride rinse at night to keep teeth and gums healthy. A complete mouthwash should be able to reduce bad breath, fight cavities, and strengthen teeth in 30 seconds of daily swishing, and for this he recommends Listerine Total Care Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash ($7).

“Especially for kids and people in braces, I recommend a nighttime fluoride rinse,” Dr. Bogan says. ACT Restoring Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash ($6) is a popular dentist-recommended brand to help fight cavities.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More


During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

1. Apple AirPods Pro; $219


You may not know it by looking at them, but these tiny earbuds by Apple offer HDR sound, 30 hours of noise cancellation, and powerful bass, all through Bluetooth connectivity. These trendy, sleek AirPods will even read your messages and allow you to share your audio with another set of AirPods nearby.

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2. Sony Zx220bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones (Open Box - Like New); $35


For the listener who likes a traditional over-the-ear headphone, this set by Sony will give you all the same hands-free calling, extended battery power, and Bluetooth connectivity as their tiny earbud counterparts. They have a swivel folding design to make stashing them easy, a built-in microphone for voice commands and calls, and quality 1.18-inch dome drivers for dynamic sound quality.

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3. Sony Xb650bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones; $46


This Sony headphone model stands out for its extra bass and the 30 hours of battery life you get with each charge. And in between your favorite tracks, you can take hands-free calls and go seamlessly back into the music.

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4. Martha Stewart 8-quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker; $65

Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

5. Jashen V18 350w Cordless Vacuum Cleaner; $180


If you're obsessive about cleanliness, it's time to lose the vacuum cord and opt for this untethered model from JASHEN. Touting a 4.3-star rating from Amazon, the JASHEN cordless vacuum features a brushless motor with strong suction, noise optimization, and a convenient wall mount for charging and storage.

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6. Evachill Ev-500 Personal Air Conditioner; $65


This EvaChill personal air conditioner is an eco-friendly way to cool yourself down in any room of the house. You can set it up at your work desk at home, and in just a few minutes, this portable cooling unit can drop the temperature by 59º. All you need to do is fill the water tank and plug in the USB cord.

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7. Gourmia Gcm7800 Brewdini 5-Cup Cold Brew Coffee Maker; $120


The perfect cup of cold brew can take up to 12 hours to prepare, but this Gourmia Cold Brew Coffee Maker can do the job in just a couple of minutes. It has a strong suction that speeds up brew time while preserving flavor in up to five cups of delicious cold brew at a time.

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8. Townew: The World's First Self-Sealing Trash Can; $90


Never deal with handling gross garbage again when you have this smart bin helping you in the kitchen. With one touch, the Townew will seal the full bag for easy removal. Once you grab the neatly sealed bag, the Townew will load in a new clean one on its own.

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9. Light Smart Solar Powered Parking Sensor (Two-Pack); $155


Parking sensors are amazing, but a lot of cars require a high trim to access them. You can easily upgrade your car—and parking skills—with this solar-powered parking sensor. It will give you audio and visual alerts through your phone for the perfect parking job every time.

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10. Liz: The Smart Self-Cleaning Bottle With UV Sterilization; $46


Reusable water bottles are convenient and eco-friendly, but they’re super inconvenient to get inside to clean. This smart water bottle will clean itself with UV sterilization to eliminate 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. That’s what makes it clean, but the single-tap lid for temperature, hydration reminders, and an anti-leak functionality are what make it smart.

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Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

Find That Perfect Paint Color With This Real-Life Photoshop Eyedropper Tool

Nix Sensor
Nix Sensor

If you're looking to spruce up the interior design of your home or just need a specific shade of paint for your latest craft project, you’re going to love the precision that comes with the Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor. Think of it like your own real-life Photoshop eyedropper tool that works to identify specific colors and then recommends the exact brand of paint that replicates it. And this weekend, you can get one for 30 percent off.

The Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor comes pre-calibrated right out of the box, so all you have to really do is point it at the color you want and the device will scan it and come up with potential paint matches from brands like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams. The Nix works through a free app on your phone for even easier access to the paint products you need.

There are obvious ways a tool like Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor might be helpful for a professional who works with color, but it can be surprisingly handy for everyday folks as well. If you spot a really eye-catching shade of blue on the side of a package or on a friend's couch, you can instantly scan it, store the information, and find the exact paint tone next time you want to redo your bedroom.

The opportunities are endless with the Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor, and you can get yours through September 20 for only $70.

Nix Mini Color Sensor V2 - $69.99

See Deal

Prices subject to change. This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors.

Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.