Why is Oral Hygiene so Important
Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques performed daily.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing, you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.
How to Brush
Drs. Gary and Deborah recommend using an electric toothbrush. Position the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort. Many of the newer electric toothbrushes will actually let you know if you are using too much pressure.
When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.
To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.
Next, you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth by using short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.
How to Floss
Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you but remember it takes time and practice.
Start with a piece of floss about 18 inches long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand.
To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Please do not force the floss or try to snap it into place. Bring the floss to the gum line, then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember, there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.
To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefingers of both hands. Do not forget the back side of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.
When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if, during the first week of flossing, your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing, you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque, your gums will heal, and the bleeding should stop.
Caring for Sensitive Teeth
There are various reasons your teeth may be sensitive and what you want to do first is get a checkup to make sure there is no decay or gum infection that may be the cause. If there isn’t any dental disease, then you may very well have some new recession where a little bit of your root is exposed. That sensitivity will usually go away over time, but we also have a great desensitizer to paint on those areas at each visit with our hygienist that works great. There are also some kinds of toothpaste that might help, and some of them are prescription, so be sure to ask us if these are good options for your teeth. It is not uncommon for teeth to be sensitive following dental procedures, but please give our office a call if it lasts more than a few days.
Choosing Oral Hygiene Products
We love electric toothbrushes and Water Piks and highly recommend one for your oral health. Our favorites are Sonicare and the Oral B but pick whatever brand works for you. Remember, the best toothbrush you can buy is the toothbrush you will actually use. Although, dental floss is still an important foundation for good oral health.
We also recommend Fluoride toothpaste as well as fluoridated water for children while their permanent teeth are developing. If your area does not have fluoridated water, you may want to consider getting bottled water with Fluoride in it, often called nursery water, for your kids to drink when they are thirsty. If your child is in braces, check out all the different types of flossers and water irrigation systems – anything to help keep those teeth cleaned while they are in that tricky stage of having braces and not being too keen on brushing their teeth.
If used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40%. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. Tartar control toothpaste will reduce tartar above the gum line, but gum disease starts below the gum line, so these products have not been proven to reduce the early stage of gum disease.
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus to a minimum. However, despite your best efforts, calculus will most likely still be present in your mouth, and the only way to get rid of it is to have a professional cleaning with a hygienist. Calculus becomes hardened like cement on your teeth, and it is a trap for bacteria that can harm your gums. Regular cleanings will go a long way toward your goal of keeping your teeth for a lifetime.