Proper dental hygiene is critical in maintaining not only the health of your teeth, but also your overall health. While taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums will prevent conditions like bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease, it can also minimize the likelihood of gum disease which may increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes and preterm labor. Needless to say, good dental hygiene will help you look and feel good.
Thankfully better in-home care and improved dental treatments have enabled most people to retain their teeth throughout their entire lives. Of course conditions that result in dental disease and tooth loss can be treated in a variety of ways, it’s best to avoid dental problems through proper oral hygiene which often depends on regular tooth brushing and flossing.
Most dental problems are caused by plaque. A sticky substance made up of bacteria, bits of food and other organic matter, dental plaque forms on your teeth and must be removed on a regular basis. Otherwise, the bacteria in dental plaque produce acids that will corrode the teeth and cause cavities. Left unchecked, plaque can accumulate, promote and periodontal disease resulting in serious infection and even tooth loss.
To prevent the accumulation of plaque and avoid the risk of related complications, the best defense is a regular dental hygiene regimen which includes tooth brushing and flossing. Brushing eliminates plaque from the larger surfaces of the teeth as well as just below the gum line, while flossing removes plaque from between your teeth.
Regular tooth brushing is critical to maintaining proper dental hygiene and overall oral health. Since most people learn how to brush when we were children, it’s no wonder that many people were either taught incorrectly or adopted bad habits over time. Although the dental hygienists at Zonies-Holgado Dental Associates regularly advise our patients on proper tooth brushing technique, we feel that it’s helpful to cover some tooth brushing basics to ensure everyone can avoid prospective problems. Although there are several methods to properly brush your teeth, the modified Bass technique is among the most accepted for adults.
Although many assume that they understand how to properly brush their teeth, the modified Bass method is frequently cited and can be used by most adults:
Hold the toothbrush sideways against your teeth with some of the bristles touching your gums.
Tilt the brush toward gum line.
Gently brush back and forth, using short strokes.
Softly clean your gums by moving the bristles around the gum line.
Repeat for every tooth, on the insides and outsides.
Clean the chewing surfaces by holding the brush so the bristles are straight down.
Rinse with water.
Even though regular brushing is important, ensuring that you do it well may be the next best step to avoiding dental problems. Therefore here are several tooth brushing tips that will help you get the most out of your dental hygiene regimen:
Brush Between Two to Three Times a Day – Regular brushing is important, but avoid over brushing since it can damage your gums.
Use a Soft Bristle Brush- Brushing thoroughly, not aggressively is the key to good home care.
Brush Lightly – Certainly the purpose of brushing is to clean your teeth, but brushing too hard can result in receding gums and other damage.
Brush for at Least Two Minutes — Adequate time is necessary to ensure a proper cleaning, so set a timer. Alternatively, many people use the length of a song on the radio as a guide.
Develop a Brushing Routine — A routine often helps you cover every area of your mouth and prevent missing spots where decay can develop.
While regular tooth brushing cleans the larger surfaces of your teeth, flossing helps you get to those hard to reach areas where plaque can accumulate and cause significant decay. While our dental staff offers instruction on how to floss during a routine teeth cleaning appointment, it may be helpful to consider the basics of flossing.
There are many different ways to floss your teeth. The most common method is to wind the floss around your middle fingers and then guide the floss between the teeth using the index fingers. Regardless, people often become overly concerned with how to hold the floss versus what to do with it. If you’re having difficulty in finding a comfortable way to use the dental floss, our staff will be happy to assist you. Afterward, basic dental flossing steps include:
Certainly regular teeth brushing and flossing are important to maintaining your oral health, however there are a number of ways that you may supplement your dental hygiene regimen. Here are a few that you may want to consider:
Interdental Cleaners — Small cleaners that often work better for those with more space between their teeth.
Sonic or Electric Tooth Brushes- These are very good alternatives for people who have a difficult time brushing their teeth manually. We recommend different types depending on the need of the patient.
Oral Irrigators — Electric devices that pump water in a steady or pulsating stream. Excellent for removing food and debris, these device are not recommended for removing plaque.
Interdental Tip — A flexible device made of rubber or plastic to clean between the teeth and just below the gum line.
Mouthwashes and Rinses — These liquids can be used for a number of purposes from bad breath to reducing the bacteria that cause gingivitis and even the loosening of plaque. Our staff would be happy to help you find a mouthwash or rinse that will suit your specific need.
Clearly the cornerstone of maintaining your dental health is the regular care of your teeth at home, however a regular checkup is needed to ensure your health. A regularly scheduled teeth cleaning and dental inspection will not only make sure that your teeth are well, but also help maintain your overall heath. Contact us to schedule a routine teeth cleaning.