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. Numerous recently published studies show a high correlation between active periodontal disease and heart disease. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily. Our highly trained staff of dental hygienists will help keep your mouth healthy and will teach you all the proper techniques to keep your mouth healthy at home.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gumline. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.
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. However, it is important to develop 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.
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 in to place. Bring the floss to the gumline 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 forefinger 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 the doctor. He may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth. Other more common causes of dental sensitivity are recession of the gums, which exposes the sensitive roots of teeth, and grinding of teeth, which also can create generalized oral sensitivity.
Choosing Oral Hygiene Products
There are so many products on the market it can become confusing. Choosing between all the products can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.
Automatic and “high-tech” electronic toothbrushes are safe and 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. We see excellent results with electric toothbrushes made by Braun and Sonicare.
Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses, if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, can reduce tooth decay as much as 40%. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. Tartar control toothpastes will reduce tartar above the gum line, but gum disease starts below the gumline so these products have not been proven to reduce the early stage of gum disease. Please note that with so many people drinking only bottled water, the risk of tooth decay increases due to that lack of fluoridation. A fluoride supplement may be necessary.
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental tartar 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. We strive to help you keep your teeth for a lifetime. We schedule 1 hour for cleaning appointments and will recommend an appropriate interval for your cleanings based specifically on your dental condition.