WHY IS ORAL HYGIENE SO IMPORTANT?
Tooth loss in adults is commonly caused by gum disease or periodontal disease. According to the CDC, approximately 3 out of 4 adults experience gum disease at some time in their lives. Following good oral habits such as tooth brushing and flossing is the best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease.
Both tooth decay and gum disease are caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is the colorless film that sticks to your teeth along the gum line. It is constantly forming. Thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth each day helps get rid of germs and prevents gum disease.
HOW TO BRUSH
Dr. Mandefro recommends using a soft to medium toothbrush. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle. Using gentle strokes, move the brush in a circular motion along outer surfaces of the teeth. Apply light pressure to help clean the teeth without causing discomfort.
Follow the same directions while brushing the inside surfaces of your back teeth. For the upper and lower front teeth, hold your toothbrush vertically. Use gentle back-and-forth strokes on the teeth and the surrounding gum tissue
Use short, gentle movements to clean the biting surfaces of your teeth. Change the position of the brush as needed to clean all surfaces of the teeth. Watch yourself in the mirror as you brush to make sure you are following the proper method and cleaning each surface.When you are finished, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you may have loosened while brushing.
HOW TO FLOSS
Even with the best brushing, there are still hard-to-reach areas. Periodontal disease often erupts in the areas where your toothbrush cannot reach.
Flossing is an effective way to remove food particles and plaque from those hard-to-reach areas. The following tips will help you develop the proper flossing technique.
- Use an 18-inch piece of floss, waxed floss if possible.
- Lightly wrap the ends of the floss around the middle finger on each hand. Holding the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, insert the floss between your upper teeth. Move the floss in a back-and-forth motion. Do not try to force the floss as it may break.
- Move the floss to the gum line then curve it into one tooth, sliding until you feel resistance, and gently move it up and down. Then, repeat the step against the other tooth in the same space.
- Floss around the sides of your upper teeth. Be gentle to avoid cutting the gum tissue. Turn the floss to get a clean section if it gets dirty.
- For the bottom teeth, use your forefingers to guide the dental floss between each tooth.
- Don’t forget to clean around the back side of the last tooth on each side, upper and lower.
- When you finish flossing, rinse your mouth to remove the plaque and food particles that you dislodged.
- Your teeth may bleed or may feel sore during the first week. This is normal as you get used to using the proper technique. If your gums hurt while flossing, you may be using too much pressure or pinching the gums. With continued daily flossing, your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.
CARING FOR SENSITIVE TEETH
Dental treatment can sometimes cause the teeth to be sensitive to hot or cold. This should subside with time. However, if the teeth are not kept clean, the sensitivity will continue and may become more severe.
Choosing oral hygiene products
With the availability of oral hygiene products, it can be confusing to know which products are the best for you. Consider the following suggestions for products that are suitable for most patients.
Automatic, electronic toothbrushes can be safely and effectively used by most patients. Oral irrigators spray water to help rinse your mouth. However, they will not remove plaque. You must still brush and floss regularly in conjunction with the oral irrigator.
The Rotadent and Interplak electric toothbrushes provide excellent results.
If your toothbrush has a rubber tip on the handle, this can be used to massage your gums after brushing your teeth. Tiny brushes called interproximal toothbrushes can also be used to clean between your teeth. However, these must be used properly as they could damage the gums. Consult your dentist first for guidance on the proper use of these brushes.
Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to help reduce tooth decay. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years old. Tartar control toothpastes only treat the tartar above your gum line. Gum disease starts below the gums so these products have not been proven to reduce gum disease.
Use an anti-plaque rinse that has been approved by the American Dental Association. These products can help treat early signs of gum disease.
By practicing good oral hygiene you can help keep dental calculus at a minimum. However, regular dental cleanings are necessary to remove calculus from hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. Your routine dental visit is necessary to help prevent gum disease and to keep your teeth and mouth healthy.