Many of you write to me asking which dental products I personally use. Today, I present the rigorously tested Best Dental Health Products for 2016!
I wasn’t always so concerned with which products are best. As a young dentist, I’d reach for whatever toothbrush or floss I’d get for free from the big brands. Much like the pharmaceutical companies, the big dental brands have a large investment in making sure that they have a loyal following. No big deal as long as you’re brushing and flossing, right? Not so, as I’ve learned after 30 years as a dentist.
But it was after the birth of our first child that I started wanting to dig deeper and look beyond the glossy ad campaigns. I began investigating how these different products impact our health. I remember squirting blue Crest toothpaste onto our daughter’s tiny toothbrush and realizing, this just isn’t right.
Like me, I know you are on a quest to find non-toxic, effective products that work. This is one of the biggest deep dives we’ve done yet on Ask the Dentist and we hope it helps you and your family. So, here we go! (Don’t forget to enter our giveaway of over $750 of these awesome products and supplements!)
- How Products Were Evaluated
- Good Human Citizen
- The Rating System
- Best Manual Toothbrush: Radius Source
- Best Budget Electric Toothbrush: Oral-B Vitality
- Best Electric Toothbrush: Kolibree
- Best Toothbrush for Receding Gums: Nimbus Microfine
- Best Floss: Cocofloss
- Best Container for Dental Devices: Kids Konserve
- Best Tongue Cleaner: Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner
- Best Toothpaste: JASON
- Toothpaste Runner-Up: Earthpaste
- Best Nutritional Supplement: Hyperbiotics PRO-Dental Probiotics for Oral & Dental Health
- Best On-the-Go Product: REACH Flosser
- The Giveaway: 11 Prizes Worth $750
How Products Were Evaluated
These are the criteria that were important to me as I tested and evaluated these products:
Of course, this is the most important concern for me. Since January of 2015, I and some of my patients who volunteered to help me have spent at least a month or more taking hundreds of products for a spin to see what really works. Not only does a product have to work well to score well, but we took into consideration whether a product made a difficult task (like flossing, for example) easier or more fun.
If you haven’t heard of the EWG (Environmental Working Group), check them out! They’re a great database of information and safety assessments for over 69,000 products, from shampoo to toothpaste to the foods we eat. Every ingredient in the products we tested was evaluated using EWG safety data.
It’s a common misconception that our mouths need to be cleaned out with strong solutions to obliterate bacteria and produce a tingly-clean feeling afterwards—on the contrary, these harsh chemicals upset the healthy balance in the mouth that keeps the mouth (and body) healthy. Everything from exposure to plastics and harsh detergents such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) was taken into consideration. The best ingredients are safe, gentle, and effective—and that’s what you’ll find on this list.
How available is the product? Is it available on Amazon or the local drugstore, or do you have to hunt through a local natural foods shop to find it?
Good Human Citizen
Is the product good for the environment in terms of packaging? If it’s a toothpaste, are the ingredients safe to go down the sink and get dumped into the ocean? Is it tested on animals?
Is it overpriced or is it a bargain? Does their marketing accurately portray the product, or is it misleading? How’s the cost-to-performance ratio for a product you’re using daily?
The Rating System
I gave a rating to each product, even though each product on this list won in its category:
5 = Excellent | 4 = Very Good | 3 = Good | 2 = Fair | 1 = Poor
Best Manual Toothbrush: Radius Source
It was a close call between the Radius and the Oral-B 30 (my long-time gold standard). However, the design of the Oral-B has since changed and there is a new champion.
This women-owned and family-run company makes an unconventionally shaped brush. The toothbrush head may seem way too wide, but this extra large size has a few benefits: it reduces the chances that you’re going to brush too hard by spreading out all that pressure over a larger surface area. It’s also great at reducing the biofilm and brushing at the free margin of the gums.
The toothbrush head deflects slightly backward to help reduce brushing too hard as well.
It’s made of bioplastics and is BPA-free, recyclable, low carbon footprint, kid-friendly, and offers replaceable heads—why continue to throw a toothbrush handle into a landfill when all we really need to replace is the bristles?
The quality of Radius bristles is top notch, which is important, because low-quality bristles can actually cut away tooth enamel, damaging it, and making teeth sensitive to hot and cold.
Did you know that most toothbrushes are designed for right-handed people? This toothbrush is leftie-friendly, too! Even though I’m a rightie, this is my go-to manual toothbrush.
Good Human Citizen: 5
Best Budget Electric Toothbrush: Oral-B Vitality
I’m a big fan of two types of electric toothbrush head movement: oscillation (twisting motion of the toothbrush head back and forth at 30 degrees) and pulsation (pushing up and down). When it comes to these two movements together in one electric toothbrush, Oral-B makes some of the best.
An oscillating-pulsating electric toothbrush is great for managing staining of teeth and removing thick plaque. And the Oral-B Vitality is the most affordable of its kind. Don’t let the low price fool you—it might not have the bells and whistles of the Oral-B 5000, but it still gives you access to world-class brushing.
I give the Vitality a Safety rating of 2 because it could easily be used too harshly. Even though Oral-B bristles are some of the best in quality, I wish it was possible to turn down the motor, which is too intense and hard on the teeth. Unlike the more expensive Oral-B electric toothbrushes, this model doesn’t have a pressure sensor to tell you that you’re brushing too hard. Using this brush with a sawing back and forth motion while it’s spinning can contribute to gum recession and abrasion of the teeth, so check your brushing technique and stop brushing so hard!
Good Human Citizen: 2
Best Electric Toothbrush: Kolibree
This brush came as a complete surprise to me toward the end of this year, and I spent more time testing this one than usual.
The Kolibree is made by a father who set out to design a toothbrush for his daughters, and he ended up out-Sonicaring Sonicare.
With its several built-in accelerometers, this brush knows if you’re brushing with good technique or not—and this is important because poor technique can cause gum recession, premature wear and tear on enamel, and tooth damage. The brush interacts with your smartphone and comes along with a game that motivates the whole family to be better brushers. It’s extremely light and maneuverable in an adult’s hands as well as a child’s.
In a world where electric toothbrush manufacturers try to wow us with features and settings that, frankly, make for good marketing but in reality are overwhelming and not effective, this brush just does the job efficiently.
This brush is a joy to use at any age, but get the kids on this one as soon as possible for the iPhone app game that comes along with it. Don’t worry if you are caught playing the addictive interactive games while brushing—it’s for a good cause.
Good Human Citizen: 3
Best Toothbrush for Receding Gums: Nimbus Microfine
This is just about as soft as you can go. The Nimbus bristles are extra soft and very high quality, protecting against sensitivity, abrasion, and gum recession.
There’s an extra set of longer, finer bristles that get in between the teeth and gums better than other toothbrushes. These longer, finer bristles can also act as an indicator for gingivitis—if the area you’re brushing is sore or tender, that means the area is inflamed and those areas need to be addressed with the dentist and with better technique. I like that this brush can give you tactile feedback while brushing.
Note: This is the brush I like to give over-brushers who are scrubbing way too hard. They tend not to like this brush because it’s “too soft” (no such thing when it comes to delicate teeth!). If you’re used to scrubbing hard in order to get that clean feeling, give it a few days to get used to—even though it’s a soft, delicate brush, your teeth will still get clean, and without the damage.
Good Human Citizen: 3
Best Floss: Cocofloss
What a wonderful idea: incorporate coconut into floss so it that dissolves into areas in between the teeth, helping to maintain the oral microbiome. We’re constantly adding new chemicals into our health products—why not leverage the natural properties of coconut to boost oral health naturally?
The company was started by two sisters—one, a dentist and pro-flosser, and the other, the artist, who is a little lazier about her flossing routine. I think this makes for the perfect product—functional, but something that actually motivates you to use it. After all, the best floss is the one you want to use because that’s how you build the flossing habit. The company’s minimalist approach also means there’s less packaging and less waste.
The taste is delicious. I like that it’s not that artificial, intense mint that sticks with you and makes you feel like you ate a candy cane just before bed. It has a nice feel to it in the hand and you get a gentle scraping sensation on the sides of the tooth. I just wish it was silk-based like another brand I tested. Try it—you may actually enjoy flossing more.
Good Human Citizen: 4
Best Container for Dental Devices: Kids Konserve
If you have Invisalign, retainers, dentures, or a mandibular advancement device (MAD), you’ve got to get one of these little containers. You don’t want to let a dental appliance dry out—if it’s not in your mouth, it should be soaking in water and some baking soda in one of these containers.
I’ve owned many containers that claim to be waterproof or watertight that don’t hold up to the claims once put to the test. On one fateful summer day, I lent one such brand new gadget to my now son-in-law to protect his iPhone during a river rafting trip. The “waterproof” container was half-filled with water at the end of the trip and, needless to say, his phone didn’t make it.
That said, when I say Kids Konserve is perfectly watertight, I mean it—fill them up with water to soak your retainer in and they are actually 100% leak-proof. I must list this one caveat: you have to seal the lid properly in order for it to be completely watertight! I’ve had a few patients say it wasn’t actually watertight—but once I showed them how to seal it properly, it worked. Make sure you push down on the BPA-free lid all the way around the circumference of the container to activate the seal.
I go backpacking with this container full of water to keep my mandibular advancement device (MAD) from drying out—it hasn’t failed me once.
It’s a perfect size, it’s metal (except for the lid), it lasts forever, it doesn’t stink or absorb weird odors, and it’s dishwasher safe. I clean mine once a month with some white vinegar.
Good Human Citizen: 4
Best Tongue Cleaner: Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner
The more I read Beth Terry’s My Plastic Free Life blog and book, the more I work to replace all the plastics in my life. And why would you want to scrape your tongue with plastic? Dr. Tung’s tongue scraper is stainless steel, it works, it lasts, and it’s safe.
I like that it’s stiff enough to give you some degree of control over the process. Enough said, except that tongue scraping is important for your oral microbiome and breath odor. Do it daily. Here’s a tongue scraping guide if you’re new to it.
Good Human Citizen: 4
Best Toothpaste: JASON
Safe and dependable. No SLS, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, gluten, triclosan, preservatives, or propylene glycol. This is exactly what toothpaste should be, simple, effective, non-abrasive, and safe. So simple, it’s revolutionary.
It’s safe for the environment when it goes down the sink, kind to the body, and doesn’t over promise in its packaging.
It’s also the best-tasting toothpaste I’ve ever tried. My favorite flavor is a tie between orange cinnamon mint and tea tree oil cinnamon. If those flavors sound too adventurous to you, try the more traditional Sea Fresh deep sea spearmint.
Tip: these toothpastes come in two versions: paste and gel. The paste is fluoride-free and the gel contains fluoride.
Good Human Citizen: 5
Toothpaste Runner-Up: Earthpaste
Good Human Citizen: 5
Best Nutritional Supplement: Hyperbiotics PRO-Dental Probiotics for Oral & Dental Health
This was a late-in-the-year surprise product for us here at Ask the Dentist. It’s something I’ve wished existed for a long time.
To improve bad breath or reverse gingivitis, a lot of us are instructed to use mouthwash to kill bacteria—the problem with this is that harsh mouthwashes kill all the good bacteria too. So do antibiotics.
The oral microbiome refers to the bacteria in our mouth and opening to the intestinal tract. These microbes have been linked to controlling mental health, weight, and even our resistance to dementia—and this delicate microbial diversity is under attack daily from antibacterial mouthwash, processed foods, and mouth breathing.
These are chewable tablets, but I dissolve them in the mouth on top of the tongue. Do this once a day. These will improve your dental checkups, your respiratory system (ear, nose, throat, and sinuses), your immune system overall, your health, and your overall wellness.
These will help repopulate your oral microbiome and cure bad breath at the source. Kid-friendly too.
Good Human Citizen: 4
Best On-the-Go Product: REACH Flosser
The sad news: When we reached out to Johnson & Johnson, they informed us that the product is being discontinued.
The good news: I’m touch with a manufacturer to reintroduce this product. Sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of this post if you want to be alerted once it’s available. Until then, I’m stocking up on replaceable floss heads on Amazon.
Good Human Citizen: 1
The Giveaway: 11 Prizes Worth $750
Ten winners will receive a gift basket of the Radius toothbrush, JASON toothpaste, Hyperbiotics PRO-Dental Probiotics, Kids Konserve containers, Nimbus, Cocofloss, and Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner.
One grand prize winner will receive a Kolibree toothbrush, perfect for either yourself or your kids.
To Enter (2 Ways):
- 1st entry: Sign up for the Ask the Dentist newsletter below
- 2nd entry: Tell your friends about the giveaway so they can enter too!
This contest will end at midnight Eastern time, Monday, December 21. The winner will be selected at random and emailed directly (so make sure your email address is entered correctly!).
You missed one! What's the best mouthwash?
Are you sponsored by any companies who make these products?
Mark Burhenne DDS
Now, it’s your turn! What are your favorite dental products? Let me know in the comments below!