Your Dental Health
A healthy mouth offers more than just a pretty smile. Maintaining oral hygiene can also play a significant role in your overall health. Recent research has linked periodontal disease as a risk factor for ailments including diabetes, premature/low-birth weight babies, heart disease and a number of other systemic diseases.
Why else 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 daily brushing and flossing with the proper techniques.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque, a colorless film that sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. With thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.
How to Brush
Using a soft toothbrush, brush the outside surfaces of your teeth, 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. 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. One cause of bad breath comes from not removing (brushing) the bacteria that rest on your tongue. Therefore, you should also brush your tongue, or use a tongue scraper to remove bacteria from the tongue surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing. Thoroughly cleaning your teeth takes about 2 minutes.
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 these 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 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 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 call our office. We 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 that it can be difficult to choose. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients, including products that will help you get into the habit of flossing on a regular basis.
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 Braun or Oral-B electric toothbrushes.
Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle; this is used to massage the gums after brushing. There are also tiny (interproximal) toothbrushes that can effectively clean between your teeth. Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses — when used in conjunction with brushing and flossing — can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40%. However, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. Tartar control toothpastes are effective at reducing tartar above the gum line, but gum disease starts below the gum line; therefore these products are not proven to reduce the early stage of gum disease.
If you have difficulty using your fingers to floss, you may want to try some wonderful flossing aids now available, including the Reach Access and the Oral-B Hummingbird. These products are as easy to use as your tooth brush.
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus to a minimum, but regular professional cleaning is needed to remove calculus your toothbrush and floss have missed. Your regular visits to New Town Dental are an important part of your preventative care. We will thoroughly review oral hygiene basics and make product recommendations for you during your visits with us. With regular check-ups and proper preventive care, we believe that most of our patients can expect to keep all of their teeth for the rest of their lives.
Disclaimer: This web site is provided for information and education purposes only. No doctor/patient relationship is established by your use of this site. No diagnosis or treatment is being provided. The information contained here should be used in consultation with a dentist of your choice. No guarantees or warranties are made regarding any of the information contained within this web site. This web site is not intended to offer specific medical, dental or surgical advice to anyone. Further, this web site and Dr. Harry Snydman take no responsibility for web sites hyper-linked to this site and such hyperlinking does not imply any relationships or endorsements of the linked sites.