When treating our patients, a beautiful and healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our ultimate goal. What you do at home plays an important role in achieving that goal. Developing good dental health habits is the best way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Personal home care includes using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease, such as:
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially before going to bed at night. It is recommended that you use an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste. When brushing your teeth you should understand the following:
Routing is key. Brush your teeth twice a day, in the morning and at night, and floss once a day.
- Position the brush at a 45 degree angle, to the gums. Gently brush using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
- Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside of the front teeth. Brush all surfaces of the teeth, tongue-side and cheek-side. Pay special attention to the front teeth and all surfaces of the back teeth.
- Brush your tongue from back to front. Some people put some toothpaste or mouthwash on their toothbrush when they do this. Brushing your tongue helps remove plaque, which can cause bad breath and help bacteria grow.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria as well as freshen your breath.
- Use a toothbrush with soft, rounded-end bristles and a head that is small enough to reach all parts of your teeth and mouth.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.
Electric toothbrushes are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth, and allow the brush to do its job.
Flossing daily is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, but it disrupts plaque from building up. Flossing ultimately prevents damage to the gums, teeth, and bone. When flossing you should:
- Take 12 – 16 inches (30 – 40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
- Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between the teeth using a sawing motion.
- Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
- Move the floss firmly up and down several times to scrape off the plaque. Popping the floss in and out between the teeth without scraping will not remove much plaque and can hurt your gums.
If you have difficulty using conventional floss, floss holders are recommended.
After brushing the teeth, it’s important to rinse your mouth with water. Also, you should rinse after meals if you are unable to brush. If you’re using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its usefulness for you.
Eat a balanced diet that includes whole grains, vegetables, and fruits and is low in saturated fat and sodium. Good nutrition is vital to maintaining healthy gums and avoiding tooth decay. Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar, especially sticky, sweet foods like taffy and raisins. The longer sugar stays in contact with your teeth, the more damage the sugar will do. Do not snack before bedtime, because food left on the teeth is more likely to cause cavities at night. Saliva production decreases while you sleep, so saliva does not clean the mouth well during sleeping hours.
Use other dental aids, as recommended by our staff, such as: interdental brushes, rubber tip stimulators, tongue cleaning, irrigation devices and medicated rinses.