Why is oral hygiene so important? Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases, (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 plus the proper use of an oral irrigation device, such as a Waterpik, performed daily.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs, and thus the acids they produce, to help prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
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 call the office.
How to Floss
Periodontal disease 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.
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. 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 forefinger of both hands. Do not forget the backside 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.
Caring for Sensitive Teeth
Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long, but only if the mouth is kept clean. 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 Product
There are so many products on the market it can become confusing and choosing between all the products can be difficult. 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 electric toothbrushes called Sonicare and Braun Oral-B.
Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle; this is used to massage the gums after brushing. 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 doctor.
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 stage of gum disease.
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.
Professional Cleaning and Periodic Examination (Checkup)
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus to a minimum, but a professional cleaning will remove calculus in places your toothbrush and floss have missed. Your visit to our office is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease and catch any problems such as decay in their earliest stages when they are simplest to treat. Keep your teeth for your lifetime.
Good nutrition plays a large role in your dental health. Brushing and flossing help to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong however a balanced diet will help to boost your body’s immune system, leaving you less vulnerable to oral disease.
How often and what you eat have been found to affect your dental health. Eating starchy foods such as crackers, bread, cookies and candy causes the bacteria in your mouth feed on it, they then produce acids, which attack your teeth for up to 20 minutes or more. Also foods that stick to your teeth or are slow to dissolve give the acids more time to work on destroying your tooth enamel.
- granola bars
- chewy fruit snacks
- dried fruit
- potato chips
- hard candy
Foods such as nuts, cheese, onions, and some teas have been shown to slow growth of decay- causing bacteria in the mouth.
WaterPik/ Oral Irrigators:
Why Use Waterpik?
To help prevent gum disease, dental professionals tell us to floss daily. But many of us don’t because string floss is difficult and time consuming to use.
That’s why Water Pik created the Water Flosser – an Easy and More Effective Way to Floss!
- Easy. Just point the flosser tip between your teeth and along the gumline, and let it do all the work for you.
- Fast. Water Flossing takes only a minute a day, making it easy to improve your oral health and enjoy the cleanest, freshest mouth possible.
- Effective. The Waterpik® Water Flosser removes the plaque and debris lurking deep between teeth and below the gumline, where it’s hard to reach with traditional brushing and flossing.
We believe strongly in oral irrigation (water flossing) as part of regular home care. Not only are the benefits of oral irrigation supported in recent studies, but we have personally seen the dramatic healthy improvements that come to our patients who use oral irrigation regularly. Water flossing is an effective means of removing plaque from the tiny spaces in between the teeth — the places a regular brush can’t reach. Left alone, plaque builds up into a hardened layer called tartar or calculus, which generally requires a professional cleaning with special dental tools to remove. Both plaque and tartar are the major causes of tooth decay and gum disease.
The Waterpik® Aquarius Water Flosser is The Easy and More Effective Way to Floss™. And it’s perfect for anyone with braces, implants, crowns, bridges, or periodontal pockets. Waterpik® Water Flossers are the only brand clinically proven to be more effective than traditional dental floss and Sonicare® AirFloss for reducing plaque, gingivitis, and gum disease. The Waterpik® Aquarius Water Flosser is the ultimate in water flossing performance. It features ten pressure settings, a contemporary design that is smaller and quieter than previous models, a covered reservoir with in-lid tip storage, and six unique tips. The Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser is the number one recommended Water Flosser model among dental professionals.
So does it make sense to use an oral irrigator instead of flossing?
For most people, flossing is probably the best way to ensure that you remove as much plaque as possible. But if for some reason you aren’t able to floss effectively, using an oral irrigator offers some well-documented benefits. Why not ask us the next time you come in? We can help you decide which method is right for you, and even demonstrate the most effective techniques for plaque removal.
Xylitol is natural occurring in our bodies already. We produce from 5 to 10 grams every day from other food sources using established energy pathways. It is not a strange or artificial substance, but a natural, normal part of everyday metabolism. It is widely distributed throughout nature in small amounts; with some of the best sources are fruits, berries, mushrooms, lettuce, hardwoods, and corncobs.
It has been used for many years as a sugar substitute. It is about as sweet as table sugar but is metabolized to fewer calories and has a lower glycemic index, making it ideal as a sweetener for diabetics. Xylitol’s sweet taste also makes it appealing to toddlers. It is considered safe, the only recognized side effect being upset stomach and diarrhea due to osmotic effects. However, this can be minimized with a gradual rather than abrupt transition to using xylitol.
The FDA approved xylitol for use as a food additive in 1963, and multiple studies have also shown that it is effective at preventing tooth decay . Xylitol works by inhibiting the growth of some of the most common cavity-causing bacteria, mutans streptococci. It also decreases the ability of these bacteria to stick to teeth and can even promote remineralization of tooth enamel.
Numerous clinical studies have proven xylitol’s contribution to oral health. Its benefits include:
- reduces decay-causing plaque (bacteria) levels
- promotes healing of the initial start of an enamel cavity (remineralization)
- maintains a non-acidic environment for your teeth
- inhibits growth, adhesion and metabolism of major decay-causing bacteria (Strep mutans)
- increases salivary flow
- prevents transfer of decay-causing bacteria from mother to baby
- lessens the severity and occurrence of inner ear and sinus infections (especially in children)
- Xylitol Candies
- Xylitol Mints
- Xylitol Chewing gum
- Xylitol Toothpaste and gels
- Xylitol Mouth wash and dry mouth spray
Extra Protection to Ward Off Cavities
Fluoride is a mineral from the earth that is found in varying levels all around the world. In some places, heavy amounts of fluoride found naturally in local water sources have led to mottled (but very strong) bones and teeth. We have learned from these natural occurrences that controlling the amount of fluoride in municipal water can help strengthen teeth without detrimental effects. In Los Angeles, the fluoride levels in our tap water are tightly controlled so that they are neither too low nor too high.
Most US tap water contains fluoride today. However, most bottled water doesn’t. Many people have fluoride deficiency, which puts teeth at a greater risk for getting cavities. In some cases, parents think that they are protecting their babies by using bottled water to mix formula, but actually, tap water is better in this case. Many children pack bottled water in school lunches, and adults tend to toss a bottled water in the car instead of filling up a reusable water bottle with tap water.
Flouride-containing products such as toothpastes and some mouth rinses (like ACT and Prevident) can help strengthen teeth, especially for those who are at risk for developing cavities. At-risk populations include children over age 2, patients with gum recession and root exposure, patients who regularly suffer from dental cavities, and patients undergoing chemotherapy. In some of these cases we may recommend professional fluoride treatments in the office.
Talk to us and let us help you choose which fluoride products are right for you.
Is Fluoride Toxic?
Like anything in life, it is certainly possible to have too much of a good thing. The amount of fluoride used to brush teeth is not toxic; however it can be very dangerous if a child were to ingest a tube of toothpaste or guzzle a bottle of fluoride-containing mouth rinse. Prescription fluoride products should be kept out of reach of children.