Why is oral hygiene so important?
Adults over the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases than cavities, with three out of four adults are affected at some point in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is with good brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily. Periodontal disease and tooth decay are both caused by bacterial plaque, a colorless film that sticks to teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth, however, with thorough brushing and flossing you can remove plaque and help prevent periodontal disease.
Proper Brushing Techniques
We recommend using a soft or medium tooth brush, positioned 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. Roll the bristles to the biting surface using light pressure, while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure to cause discomfort.
When you are finished 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 your upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically, making several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. And, don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.
Next, you need to 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 watching yourself in a mirror to make sure you’ve cleaned each surface. Once finished, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque that you might have loosened while brushing.
Proper Flushing Techniques
Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it’s important to develop a proper technique. The following instructions will help, but remember, it takes time and practice. Start with a piece of floss about 18” long, and lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the remaining floss around the middle finger of your other hand.
To clean the upper teeth, grip 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, and move it up and down on each side of the 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. Don’t be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are slightly 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 can be sensitive to hot or 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 dentist. We may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.
Professional Teeth Cleaning
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus to a minimum, but professional cleaning will remove calculus in places your toothbrush and floss have missed. Your office visit is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease and keep your teeth for your lifetime.
To learn more about the best ways to care for your teeth and gums, or to schedule an appointment at our Webster, NY dental office, get in touch with the Harborside Dental team today by phone at 585-671-2720 or write to us via email by visiting our contact page.