Why is oral hygiene so important?
Did you know that adults over 35 years of age lose more teeth to gum diseases (periodontal disease) than from cavities? Three out of four adults will be affected by periodontal disease at some time in their lives, and it is completely preventable with proper brushing, flossing, and check-ups.
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
Using a soft to medium tooth brush, position the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times over each of your teeth using small, gentle strokes brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, careful not to press too hard. When you are finished cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same instruction to clean the inside surfaces of your teeth.
To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, hold the brush vertically and make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gums.
Next, clean the biting surfaces of your teeth using short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean all surfaces completely. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you may 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. It is important to develop the proper technique to ensure that you do not damage your gums while removing as much plaque as possible.
Start with a piece of waxed 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 your 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. Be careful not to 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. As the floss gets dirty, turn it from one finger to the other to reveal a fresh section.
To clean between your 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
Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long, but only if the mouth is kept clean. If the mouth is not kept clean, the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive, consult with Drs. Luczynski or McDonald. They may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.
Choosing Oral Hygiene Products
There are so many oral hygiene products on the market it can become confusing, and choosing between all the products can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.
Electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of patients. Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but will not remove plaque. You still need to brush and floss in conjunction with the use of an irrigator.
Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle; this is used to massage the gums after brushing. There are also tiny brushes (interproximal toothbrushes) that clean between your teeth. If these are used improperly, you could injure the gums, so please discuss proper use with Drs. Luczynski or McDonald.
Toothpaste and Rinses
Fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses, if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, 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 because gum disease starts below the gum line, these products have not been proven to reduce the early stages of gum disease.
Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help bring early gum disease under control. You may use these in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental 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. Keep your teeth for your lifetime.