Why is oral hygiene so important?
Periodontal disease and dental decay are the two most common causes of tooth loss for adults, and adults over the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum disease (periodontal disease) than to cavities (dental decay). However, preventing tooth loss isn’t the only reason to practice good oral hygiene.
Our mouth is a gateway to the rest of our body. Strong correlations have been proven between the health of our mouth and systemic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
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 help prevent periodontal disease.
How to Brush Teeth
If you have any pain while brushing your teeth or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office in Lancaster at Lancaster Office Phone Number 717-569-6484 & in New Holland at New Holland Office Phone Number 717-354-5635.
Dr. Loeffler, Dr. Pitt and Dr. Stephens recommend brushing your teeth a minimum of twice per day with a soft bristle toothbrush. You can use a manual or electric toothbrush; however, electric toothbrushes have proven to be more effective in removing plaque and biofilm from teeth.
Position the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle where your gums and teeth meet.
If you’re using a manual toothbrush, gently move the brush in a circular motion several times, focusing on one tooth at a time. Using small, gentle strokes brush both the outside surfaces of your teeth.
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’re using an electric toothbrush, the technique will be slightly different than a manual toothbrush. Each electric toothbrush is designed to be used in specific ways. Be sure to tell your dental hygienist at your next preventative care appointment if you are using an electric toothbrush. We will review your brushing technique with you to help ensure you are getting the best and healthiest results possible!
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 forefingers 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.
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 Products
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, such as a WaterPik) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but will not fully remove plaque. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator. We see excellent results with electric toothbrushes called Sonicare.
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 Dental Cleaning
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus to a minimum, but a professional dental 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. Keep your teeth for your lifetime.