Adults over 35 lose more teeth to periodontal disease (gum disease) than to cavities. Three out of four adults are affected by periodontal disease at some time in their life. The best way to prevent both cavities and periodontal disease is by thorough, daily tooth brushing and flossing.
Why is oral hygiene so important?
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a biofilm that sticks to your teeth, especially at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. With brushing and flossing, you can remove this film which contains both these bacteria and the toxins and acids they produce.
A word about inflammation and inflammatory disease
We continue to see more and more evidence linking heart disease and other inflammatory conditions with poor oral health. Maintaining good oral hygiene is more important than just preventing cavities and gum disease, and giving your nice fresh breath. It plays an important role in your overall health and quantity and quality of life.
How to brush
While 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. 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. 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 you might have loosened while brushing.
If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to contact us.
How to floss
Flossing and brushing clean two different areas, and there is little overlap. Thus if you only floss, or only brush, you are only cleaning half of the teeth. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from the surfaces between the teeth; however it is important to develop 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 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. A s 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 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 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.
Other oral hygiene devices
Nowadays we have a multitude of different oral hygiene devices that we can use for specific patients’ needs. Electric toothbrushes and water flossers, plus different kinds of brushes, flosses, and picks of all shapes and sizes, along with rinses, toothpastes, pastilles, and more. From a simple toothpick to bacterial genome testing, our registered hygienists are the gurus of all these items, and they are always happy to answer questions about what will work best for you.