Why is oral hygiene so important?
Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum disease (periodontal disease) than from cavities. The best way to prevent gum disease and cavities is by good tooth brushing and flossing performed daily.
Gum disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is an off-white film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line and elsewhere. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent disease.
How to Floss
Gum disease, which dissolves the tooth’s bone support, usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush 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.
Dr. Rogers recommends flossing first and brushing second. You can use traditional floss stretched between your fingers, or you can use floss attached to a plastic handle (floss picks). Both work well.
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. It is important to get the floss slightly under the gums to fight gum disease. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Bring the floss to the gum line then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide the floss up and down on the side of the tooth. Then wrap the floss around the other tooth and repeat the motion. Then pop the floss out and do the next space. Do not forget to floss the back side of the last tooth.
If you use traditional floss, I recommend stretching the floss between your thumbs for the upper teeth, and stretching the floss between your index fingers for the lower teeth.
When the floss becomes soiled with plaque, you can move to a fresh area of traditional floss, or wipe a floss pick with a tissue.
If you haven’t been a regular flosser in the past, do not be alarmed if your gums bleed during flossing. Continue to floss thoroughly in spite of the bleeding. The bleeding will lessen or stop with regular flossing.
How to Brush
Dr. Rogers recommends using a soft tooth brush. In addition to brushing the chewing surfaces of the teeth, brushing at the gumline (where the tooth and gum meet) is essential. Position the brush at a 45 degree angle at the gumline. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times or brush with short strokes from the gum to the tooth. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.
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.
Choosing Oral Hygiene Products
There are so many products on the market it can become confusing to choose the best ones. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.
Electric toothbrushes are safe and effective. In fact, I recommend them to patients who have difficulty flossing. We see excellent results with electric toothbrushes by Sonicare and Oral B. 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.
Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses, if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, can reduce tooth decay as much as 40%. Remember, fluoride rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. Tartar control toothpastes can cause sensitive teeth, so Dr. Rogers does not recommend them. If you have sensitive teeth, discuss it with Dr. Rogers who may recommend a toothpaste specifically for treating sensitive teeth.
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.
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus (tartar) to a minimum, but a professional cleaning will remove calculus which builds up on the teeth in spite of excellent home care. Your visit to our office is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease. Keep your teeth for your lifetime!