Oral Hygiene Information
Why is oral hygiene so important?
Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases (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.
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus (“tartar”) to a minimum, but a professional dental cleaning will remove calculus in places your toothbrush and floss can not reach. Your visit to our office is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease. Keep your teeth for your lifetime.
How to Brush Teeth
If you have any pain while brushing your teeth or have any questions about how to brush properly, please let us know on your next visit.
Dr. Hernandez-Ramírez or Dr. Lasanta-García recommend using a soft 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 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. You should brush for no less than 2 minutes each time. Don’t forget to brush also your tongue with a few sweeping motions from the back of the tongue towards the tip.
Dental Video That Teaches Tooth Brushing and Flossing
How to Floss
Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque and debris from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you.
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 tightly 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 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 and debris 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. If your teeth are especially sensitive consult with your doctor. They may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.
Choosing Oral Hygiene Products
There are so many products on the market it can become confusing and difficult to choose from. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.
Electric toothbrushes are safe and have been proven more effective for the majority of the patients. 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.
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 discuss proper use with your doctor.
Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses, if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, can help reduce tooth decay as much as 40%. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. Tartar control toothpastes may help reduce tartar above the gum line.
Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help bring early gum disease under control. Use these in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
A very good reference we can give you is to look for products with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Products displaying the ADA Seal have been examined carefully by the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs and have met its criteria for safety and effectiveness. A company earns the ADA Seal of Acceptance by providing scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of its product, which the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates according to objective requirements.
Preventing Gum Disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is effective daily tooth brushing and flossing as well as regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.
Learn more about periodontal maintenance through our ADA Patient Education library.