Why is oral hygiene so important?
Adults over 35 years old lose more teeth to gum disease (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 good tooth brushing and flossing techniques performed daily.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film that sticks to your teeth and gums. Plaque is constantly forming, but by thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease and cavities.
How to Brush Teeth
If you have any pain while brushing your teeth or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office at Dr. Amy Woo, A Professional Dental Corporation Phone Number 916-443-8955.
Dr. Woo, Dr. Balcom, Dr. Brewer and Dr. Murphy recommend using a soft toothbrush. 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 brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth. 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 surfaces.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. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque that you have loosened while brushing.
How to Floss
Periodontal disease usually appears in hard-to-reach areas in between teeth or at the gum line where your toothbrush cannot adequately clean. 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 that it takes time and practice.
Start with a piece of floss (waxed floss is easier to use) 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 index finger 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 index finger 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 after two weeks your gums still hurt or bleed 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. 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 that it can become confusing to choose what will work best for you. 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 the Oral-B and Sonicare electric toothbrushes.
Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle which can be used to clean hard-to-reach areas after brushing and flossing. 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 dentist and dental hygienist.
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 gum line so these products have not been proven to reduce the early stages of gum disease.
Anti-plaque rinses that are 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.
Professional Dental Cleaning
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus to a minimum, but a professional dental cleaning will remove tartar buildup in places where your toothbrush and floss have missed. Your visit to our office is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease. We want you to keep your teeth throughout your lifetime!