Why Is Good Oral Hygiene So Important?
Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum disease (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 employing good tooth brushing and flossing techniques on a daily basis.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a constantly forming, colorless film that sticks to your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing, you can remove the germs that live in plaque, and help prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
Good oral hygiene is important in the maintenance of implants, crowns and bridges so that the gum tissue surrounding the restorations stay healthy.
Caring For Sensitive Teeth
Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and/or cold. This should not last long, provided your mouth is kept clean. If your teeth are especially sensitive, consult with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend a medicated toothpaste or a fluoride varnish made especially for sensitive teeth.
Dental calculus (tartar) is plaque that has been hardened by the minerals in your saliva. Daily brushing and flossing will keep calculus to a minimum, but a professional cleaning will remove calculus in places your toothbrush and floss have missed. Your visit to our office is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease. You will be scheduled with the hygienist for a time interval that is specific to your mouth.
How To Brush
While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion using small, gentle strokes. Apply light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.
When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions to clean the inside of your 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 should 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.
If you have any pain while brushing, or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office.
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 (waxed is easier) about 18″ 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 between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. 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 forefinger of both hands. Do not forget the backside 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.
Choosing Oral Hygiene Products
There are so many products on the market that it can sometimes be difficult to choose between products. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.
Automatic electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of patients. We see excellent results with electric toothbrushes by Sonic Care and Oral B.
Inter-proximal toothbrushes, tiny brushes that clean between your teeth, are very effective when used properly. They are not for everyone, however, so be sure to discuss proper use of these brushes at our office.
Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but will not remove plaque. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator.
If used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40 percent. These rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. Tartar control toothpastes 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.
Good nutrition is essential to your dental health.
What you eat, and how often you eat it, affects your dental health. Eating sugary, starchy foods, such as cookies, candy, bread and crackers, causes the bacteria in your mouth to produce acid which attacks your teeth for up to 20 minutes or more. Foods that stick to your teeth or are slow to dissolve, prolong the acid attack on your teeth.
Foods to Avoid
Sugary & Starchy foods:
Sticky/slow to dissolve foods:
- Hard candy
- Chewy fruit snacks
- Dried fruit
- Granola or nutrition bars
Sticky and starchy foods create less acid when eaten as part of a meal. Saliva production increases at mealtime, rinsing away food particles, and neutralizing harmful acids. Saliva production decreases while you are asleep so it is particularly important to brush and floss before bedtime.
Foods such as nuts, cheese, onions, and some teas have been shown in studies to slow growth of decay causing bacteria in the mouth.