There's a range of tools needed to maintain a healthy smile. Although you may associate the shiny metal tools with the dentist's office, some are deemed suitable for home use. How well do you know the dental tools that grace your countertops and cabinets? Take the quiz to find out!
Irrigators and toothpicks are dental tools, whereas a neti pot channels water through the nasal passage.
Believe it or not, most cities include safe levels of fluoride in drinking water. This "tool" originated in the 1940s, when scientists noticed that people who were exposed to small amounts had fewer cavities than those without fluoride.
An early toothbrush appeared in China in the 1490s showcasing bristlelike hog hair attached to a bamboo stick.
Teeth whitening products can brighten one's smile at the dentist's office or at home.
People with fillings or poor dental health should probably steer clear of teeth whitening. Double-checking with a dentist works, too.
Scalers are instruments with a pointed tip that remove hardened plaque on the teeth. It's unclear if scaling prevents gum disease, but the tool may be useful for people with the condition.
You'll often see the "ADA" seal on certain dental products. The American Dental Association assesses the safety and effectiveness of products to give consumers a shortcut while shopping for their toothcare needs.
Oral irrigators jet small amounts of water through teeth crevices, washing away plaque and food situated there.
Despite all their dental glory, alas, toothbrushes aren't usually used to identify plaque on teeth. Rather, they remove the stuff.
While the earliest forms of dental floss were made from spider silk, animal hair and wax paper, today, those aren't popular options. These days we use nylon filaments or plastic monofilaments covered in wax.
A mouthful of several colors would be entertaining, but most plaque-staining tools rely on red dye to get the job done.
Interdental cleaners are types of dental tools with brushlike tips or wedges that can gently clean hard-to-reach spaces between and around teeth. An interdental cleaner can probably tackle the pesky popcorn kernel better than the other tools listed.
Generally speaking, floss should not be reused because it can fray and add even more bacteria into your mouth, according to the ADA. Stopping for a minute and then beginning to floss again shouldn't be an issue, though.
Looking at a dental tool's label should clue you in on how to properly clean it. Remember, not all tools are reusable, either.
A case of bad breath may stem from microorganisms setting up shop on your tongue. Using a tongue scraper gently removes them -- temporarily, at least.
Though our mouths are home to multiple types of bacteria, they're considered plaque when they form a biofilm, or sticky layer, on our teeth. More reason to brush, right?
Experts say this tool should be limited to a three-month career. Afraid of parting with your brush? Feel free to reuse it to clean jewelry or as a scrubber for reaching tight surfaces around the sink.
Though it may be tempting to pick and prod, you should leave extra sharp picks in the hands of your dentist.
Scientists noticed grooves in fossil teeth, indicating that, in addition to brushing, some of humans' earliest ancestors preferred picking their teeth with toothpicks as well.
Electronic toothbrushes flood the dental cleaning market and provide a shortcut to clean teeth for people who might not be able move their arms in certain directions. It's unclear whether electronic toothbrushes get the job done better than manual ones -- dentists say it depends on how they're used.