Dental Health: How to properly care for your teeth so they last a lifetime
Although the idea of brushing your teeth may seem very simple, there are in fact many intricacies of brushing which can improve your ability to maintain your teeth for a lifetime.
The proper brushing technique is to lightly hold a manual toothbrush between the fingers, positioning the soft bristles at a 45 degree angle to the tooth and moving the brush slowly in small circles to clean the accessible plaque off of the tooth surfaces. This should be done on the cheek, tongue, and biting surfaces of the back teeth.
The front teeth should be cleaned by vertically positioning the brush to access the back side of the upper and lower front teeth, making sure to brush all the way to the gum line. Reposition the brush horizontally to clean the lip side of the upper and lower front teeth ensuring light pressure with small circular strokes once again to make sure not to irritate the gum tissues.
Next the patient should brush the top of the tongue and hard palate to clear bacteria from the soft tissues as well as the teeth. This commonly skipped technique reduces the issues of bad breath dramatically.
Finally a vigorous rinsing with water to clear the excess tooth paste as well as loosened plaque will leave the mouth in a very hygienic state.
Flossing is the process of cleaning the areas between the teeth where toothbrushes do not reach. Flossing is imperative for patients in order to get the bacteria out of the areas where the teeth touch together. Cavities or decay between the teeth, as well as gum disease can be controlled with proper flossing on a daily basis.
Remove a piece of floss that is about a foot and a half long from the dispenser. Using the middle fingers of the left and right hands for support, lightly wrap the floss around the fingers. Control the floss by tightening it between the thumb and forefinger.
Move the floss to the mouth and gently rock the tightened portion of floss between the contact areas of the teeth beginning on the molars. Once the floss passes through the contact areas between the teeth the bacteria causing decay is disrupted. Now move the floss gently toward the gum line to disturb and clean the bacteria which cause gum disease. As the floss approaches the gum tissues, wrap the tooth in a “C” shape curve of the floss to clean below the gum line. At no point, should this cause pain when it is done properly. Now move the floss to the other tooth and clean beneath the gum line on the second tooth. Snap the floss out and proceed to the next contact area. As you move through the mouth the floss may shred or start to get debris on it, at this time turn from one middle finger to the other to get a fresh section. A rinse at the end of the flossing will get any loose debris or food particles out of the oral environment.
We recommend that patients practice this in front of a mirror initially to develop a pattern that is used each time. This allows the patient to develop a good habit and system that eventually they will become so comfortable with that they can floss without the aid of a mirror.
Many patients feel that flossing is a very difficult habit to develop. In the beginning the technique may be difficult to master, and there may be some minor bleeding of the gum tissues due to gingivitis and inflammation. After approximately 7 to 10 days of continuous plaque removal with flossing virtually all the bleeding goes away as the gum tissues get healthier.
There are many floss aids available if the dexterity of manual flossing is too difficult for the patients. The hygienist will go through alternative methods of accomplishing the same bacterial removal for patients who may have difficulty developing the flossing habit with traditional floss.
What oral hygiene products are the best? ⇓
It can be a daunting task to choose dental health products when a person walks into the oral health care aisle at their local big box store. There are so many products to choose from and they all have claims of being better than the product right next to them. There are also all types of electronic plaque removers as well. How does a person choose what is best for them?
During our comprehensive examination, as well as at the routine hygiene appointments, we assess our patient's needs. Then we help guide them to choose the most effective products for them, and let them know where they can find these products.
In choosing a toothpaste, we recommend that there be an ADA, American Dental Association, Seal of Approval on the packaging. This will let the patient know that there is Fluoride in the proper quantity to help fight decay. The use of fluoride in oral health care has helped reduce the prevalence of decay by an estimated 40%.
For patients that have a tendency to have temperature sensitivity on their teeth, we recommend avoiding complex tooth paste with whiteners and added plaque or tarter fighters. Many times these pastes have flavor masking ingredients that lead to additional tooth and or gum sensitivity. The pastes that you can purchase over the counter with sensitivity compositions have anesthetic additives that can also mask the underlying cause of the sensitivity, thus many times we only recommend these in the short term for oral health care. Prescription strength pastes often will actively treat the cause of tooth sensitivity rather than masking the problem.
Tooth brushes should be soft or extra soft in order to minimize long term damage to the gum tissues. The medium or hard brushes can lead to periodontal or gum recession and actually abrade the tooth mechanically, causing loss of tooth structure through time and the necessity for further dental work in the future. When evaluating electric brushes, we strongly recommend the ultrasonic type brush for adults over the rotary brushes due to their ability to preserve gum tissue and to free the enamel of plaque and bacteria. For children, the rotary or spin brushes are fine due to the fact they will be losing or exfoliating their primary or baby teeth.
Professional oral hygiene care and cleanings ⇓
When done properly, the individual patient's daily routine can help keep plaque and calculus levels under control. There are areas under the gum tissue which may not be accessible to the patient to keep clean, which is why visiting the dental hygienist will allow us to help the patient keep their susceptibility to gum disease at bay. Individual oral health recare programs are established for each patient. The type of cleaning and frequency of care will be diagnosed and recommended by Dr. Mengedoth and supported by his staff.