Do you want to keep your teeth? The dental team is available to customize a plaque control program to meet your needs. Along with regular dental check-ups, the 2 most important things you can do to keep your teeth are brushing and flossing. This is where the “ball is in your court”. The “battle” against dental disease is “won” on a daily basis at home – where YOU are in control!!
This may sound very basic but a bit of a review as a reminder is good! Brush your teeth twice a day. Remember also to brush your tongue. This reduces the bacterial count (germs) in your mouth and will improve your taste as well as the overall clean feeling in your mouth. Spend at least 3 minutes brushing all the surfaces of the teeth. The average person spends just 30 seconds! The average number of teeth in an adult is 28…that amounts to 1 second per tooth!!
Use a soft bristled toothbrush. Some people still feel that NEED to use a hard or medium bristled brush. Think of your teeth like a Cadillac…Would you prefer an abrasive cleanser or a soft chamois cloth? The size of the soft bristles is designed that when angled into the gum area, the small bristles can disturb germs sitting below the gum line area. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth with the bristles at the place where your gums and teeth meet. Use gentle, slow, tiny circles. Do not scrub. Years of brushing too hard can make your gums recede or pull away from your teeth. Clean every surface of every tooth.
Be sure to choose a toothbrush that is small enough to get into all the areas of your mouth. Often people are using a brush that is too large and this limits access to the back teeth. Change your toothbrush every 3 months.
Here is an interesting bit of trivia. Think about each tooth having 5 sides to clean. The toothbrush can only access 3 out of 5 sides. So, even if you totally remove all the plaque (germs) that the toothbrush can reach, you will only have 60% of the plaque.
Therefore, flossing goes “hand in hand” with brushing….Ideally, it should be done before brushing.
Flossing removes plaque and germs (bacteria) that you cannot reach with your toothbrush. As mentioned, if you don’t floss, you are missing more than one-third of your tooth surfaces.
Floss at least once a day. Once the skills are mastered you can do it while doing something else, such as watching TV or listening to music. Keep floss easily accessible in lots of different places. This will help. When you think about doing it, you don’t have far to go to get the floss!
Here’s how to floss:
Take a piece of floss about as long as your arm. Wrap it around your middle fingers leaving about 2 inches between your hands. Use your index (pointing) fingers to guide the floss between your teeth.
Gently side the floss between your teeth and wrap it into a C shape. It should wrap around the base of the tooth and slightly below the gums.
Wipe the tooth from bottom to top 2 – 3 times or until it is squeaky clean.
Be sure to floss both sides of each tooth. Do not forget the backs of the last molars.
Move to a new part of the floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
The skill improves with practice. If you continue to find it challenging, perhaps using a plastic floss holder. These are available at most drug stores.
Remember, your dental team is here to help you. Pain in the mouth will only be noticed at an advance stage of tooth decay or gum disease. Regular checkups allow the treatment team to spot problems BEFORE pain is felt. Problems that are detected early are usually simple and inexpensive to correct.
If you have any questions or concerns, voice them at your dental appointments. Personalized instruction is available. We are your partners in assisting you to keep your teeth a lifetime.
Next ….caring for false teeth.