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Don't try this at home! Avoid over-the-counter dental instruments

As more oral health product manufacturers introduce dental instruments to the consumer market, more patients are seeking treatment as a result of misuse of these devices, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.

Some dental instruments advertised in magazines and sold in pharmacies resemble scalers – instruments used by dentists and dental hygienists for removing tartar and other deposits from the tooth surface. The improper use of these products can easily harm your gums and teeth, leading to sensitivity, gum recession, infection of the gums, tooth chipping and other problems. Misuse of the devices can also lead to periodontal (gum) abscesses when tartar is pushed under the gumline.

Dentists and hygienists have had years of education and training in the proper use of these instruments to clean teeth and remove tartar, and trying to clean your teeth with these instruments at home will most likely do more harm than good. Rather than attempt to advise patients on proper use of these devices, dentists and hygienists usually tell their patients it is safest to avoid using them at all.

Regular professional cleaning is more effective than using over-the-counter dental instruments to pick at your teeth. In between dental visits, the best way to clean your teeth is by brushing and flossing. You can learn more about cleaning your teeth at home in this article about the proper techniques for brushing and flossing.

Source: Don't Try This at Home! Over-the-counter Dental Instruments May Do More Harm Than Good.Academy of General Dentistry
Last updated: April 2009

The oral health information on this web site is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.