Taking Care Of Your Teeth At Home
A beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our ultimate goal when treating patients. Your personal home care plays an important role in achieving that goal. Your personal home care starts by eating balanced meals, reducing the number of snacks you eat, and correctly using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.
Brushing and flossing are of paramount importance to oral hygiene.
Though bi-annual professional dental cleanings remove plaque, tartar, and debris, excellent homecare methods are equally valuable. Proper brushing and flossing can enhance the health of the mouth, make the smile sparkle, and prevent serious diseases.
Why Is Proper Oral Care Important?
Prevention of tooth decay
Tooth decay is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, and its treatment often requires complex dental procedures. Tooth decay occurs when the acids found in plaque erode the natural enamel found on the teeth. This phenomenon can easily be prevented by using proper home hygiene methods.
Prevention of periodontal disease
Periodontal disease is a serious, progressive condition which can cause tooth loss, gum recession, and jawbone recession. Periodontal disease is caused by the toxins found in plaque and can lead to serious health problems in other parts of the body. Removing plaque and calculus (tartar) from the surface of the tooth using a toothbrush and from the interdental areas using dental floss, is an excellent way to stave off periodontal problems.
Prevention of halitosis
Bad breath or halitosis is usually caused by old food particles on or between the teeth. These food particles can be removed with regular brushing and flossing, leaving the mouth healthier, and breath smelling fresher.
Prevention of staining
Staining, or yellowing, of teeth can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as smoking, coffee, and tea. The more regularly these staining agents are removed from the teeth using brushing and flossing techniques, the less likely it is that the stains will become permanent.
Brushing Your Teeth
The teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, ideally in the morning and before bed. The perfect toothbrush is small in size with soft, rounded-end bristles, and is no more than three months old. The head of the brush needs to be small enough to access all areas of the mouth, and the bristles should be soft enough so as not to cause undue damage to the gum tissue. The American Dental Association (ADA) has given electric toothbrushes their seal of approval, stating that those with rotating or oscillating heads are more effective than other toothbrushes.
Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.
How To Properly Brush
1. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where the gums and teeth meet.
2. Use small circular motions to gently brush the gumline and teeth, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
3. Do not scrub or apply too much pressure to the teeth, as this can damage the gums and tooth enamel.
4. Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
5. Use back and forth strokes to brush the chewing surfaces.
6. Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside of the front teeth.
7. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline, removing plaque from the interdental regions (between the teeth). Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.
Flossing is an especially important tool for preventing periodontal disease and limiting the depth of the gum pockets. The interdental regions are difficult to reach with a toothbrush and should be cleansed with dental floss on a daily basis.
The flavor and type of floss are unimportant; choose floss that will be easy and pleasant to use.
How To Properly Floss Your Teeth
1. Cut a piece of floss to around 18 inches long.
2. Wrap one end of the floss around the middle finger of the left hand and the other end around the middle finger of the right hand until the hands are 2-3 inches apart.
3. Work the floss gently between the teeth toward the gum line. Gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion. Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.
4. Curve the floss in a U-shape around each individual tooth and carefully slide it beneath the gum line.
5. Carefully move the floss up and down several times to remove interdental plaque and debris.
Warning - Do not pop the floss in and out between the teeth as this will inflame and cut the gums.
It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing and after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.
While general recommendations and tips may adequately address the needs for most patients, a dentist may recommend using other dental aids.
Other commonly recommended dental aids include:
- interdental brushes
- rubber tip stimulators
- tongue cleaners
- irrigation devices
- medicated rinses
If you have any questions about the correct way to brush or floss, please contact our office.