In our latest instalment of the Ask The Dentist series, Dr. Paltsev delves into the most frequently asked patient questions related to dental hygiene, including brushing, flossing, toothpaste and more. He also responds to questions about the most common dental appliances that are provided to patients and gives his expert opinion on various products, such as whitening toothpaste. Aside from necessary procedures, most patients only visit their dentist twice a year for their bi-annual checkup and may not get the chance to ask all the questions they have about their oral health. Which is why we’ve made it possible to get access to your dentist’s expertise any time, through our website. Leave us a comment with your questions and we’ll be sure to have Dr. Paltsev answer them as part of the Ask The Dentist series.

We hope these are helpful in answering your dental health-related questions.

Question: I have gum recession and was told not to use an electric toothbrush because it might aggravate the recession. What do you recommend?

Dr. Paltsev: I myself am a big fan of electric toothbrushes, simply because they’re easy to use and very efficient. When it comes to brushing technique, it is much easier for me to teach someone to use an electric brush than a manual. To address the issue of gum recession and whether or not an electric brush can aggravate it, I would say it won’t if you use it correctly. I am happy to show you how to use it correctly with hands-on instruction. I can coach you to use just the right amount of pressure and timing to clean your teeth efficiently and to avoid causing harm.

Question: What’s the best kind of toothpaste out there? Which one should I be using?

Dr. Paltsev: There are many commercially available kinds of toothpaste and every single one seems to claim specific benefits, such as fighting tartar, reducing sensitivity or making your teeth whiter. I would say that all toothpastes have about the same level of efficiency. It’s not so much the toothpaste as the technique that you use for brushing that matters. Having said that, I would express my personal opinion that the whitening element in certain toothpastes detracts somewhat from the toothpaste’s brushing ability, while not providing any significant whitening effect. In other words,  you don’t get the whitening but you get less brushing. If you want to whiten your teeth, I would suggest purchasing a whitening product. I wouldn’t combine the whitening element and brushing in the same process. As tempting as it seems, it may not be efficient enough.

Question: What about dental floss? What kind of floss is the most efficient?

Dr. Paltsev: I suggest experimenting with various kinds of dental flosses. Find the one that works for your teeth, that’s easiest for you to use so that you don’t struggle with it and so that you can use it on a daily basis. It’s important for me to mention here that you should be flossing all of your teeth on a daily basis. Flossing once in a while doesn’t give you any benefit. Only when you are flossing thoroughly every day will you truly experience the benefits of flossing.

Question: I have a sinus problem. Sometimes, I feel as if I have a toothache at the same time as my sinus issues. Could the two be related?

Dr. Paltsev: Yes. Sinus problems could be caused by infection or by allergies. During allergy season, many people’s sinuses become filled with liquid. In some cases, this can feel like a toothache, like your upper teeth are hurting. If it’s simply a sinus problem, the teeth usually don’t require treatment. You just have to see your physician and take anti-allergy medication. Then after a while, the toothache should disappear. See your dentist anyway to rule out a  real tooth problem.

Question: Is it possible for you to create a dental appliance that would make me stop snoring? It doesn’t bother me but it bothers my partner a lot.

Dr. Paltsev: Yes, and this appliance can be quite efficient in preventing snoring, but in order to get it, you have to do your due diligence. See your physician so that you’re referred to a sleep clinic. First and foremost, you want to rule out sleep apnea. You may not just be snoring but you may also suffer from sleep apnea, which means you stop breathing during the night. So, only after you’ve gone to a sleep clinic and you’ve received clearance for a dental appliance, only then can we make one for you. Otherwise, we might be missing a more serious condition and this has to be treated properly.