Oral Hygiene

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

Woman brushing her teethWhen brushing 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 concentrating on one area at at time. 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. Do not forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.

Finally clean the biting surfaces of your teeth. Do this with 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.

If you use an electric tooth brush, orient the bristles against the teeth in the same manner and let the brush do the rest of the work for you!

If you have any pain or bleeding while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to contact our office.

How to Floss

Man flossing teethPeriodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush (manual or electric) 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 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 about six times on the side of each 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 backside 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 cutting the gums or pinching the triangular gum tissue between your teeth.DO NOT “saw” the floss into the gums. As you floss daily and remove the plaque your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.

Caring For Sensitive Teeth

Sometimes before or 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 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 choosing between all the products can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.

Electric toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of the patients. Oral irrigators (water picks) 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 called a rubber tip stimulator and 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 or dental hygienist.

If used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses can reduce tooth decay as much as 40 percent. 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 gum line so these products have not been proven to reduce the early stage of gum disease.

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.

Your periodontist is the best person to help you select the right products that are best for you.

Professional Cleaning

Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental plaque and tartar to a minimum, but a professional cleaning will remove plaque and tartar in places your toothbrush and floss have missed. Visit your periodontist, as he or she is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease.