Why is 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 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 do I brush properly?
Many patients focus only on brushing their teeth and forget to brush their gums as well. This is important as it helps limit plaque that builds up in the pocket between your tooth and gums. We recommend using a soft to medium bristled tooth brush, as a hard bristled tooth brush can actually wear away enamel if brushing too hard. Position the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion 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.
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.
If it has been awhile since your last cleaning, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with us where our providers can check the health of your gums and discuss with you about proper oral hygiene.
How do I floss properly?
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 floss with 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. 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. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to 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 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.
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
Sensitive teeth can be due to a number of reasons, such as root exposure, dentin exposure, a cavity, among other reasons. If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment where one of our providers can properly diagnose and help treat your sensitivity.
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. If it has been awhile since your last dental cleaning, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with us!