Oral Hygiene

Nothing can replace the importance of cleaning your teeth and gums with proper brushing and flossing. In addition to a healthy balanced diet and regular visits to our office, effective brushing and flossing techniques can make all the difference in a smile.

set the timer for 2 minutes & massage gently

Brush your teeth at least twice daily, preferably after every meal – or at minimum, after breakfast and before bedtime. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and consider smaller heads for hard-to-reach areas. Brush gently – don’t scrub – for two minutes each time, regardless of the number of teeth you have.

Instructions Using a Manual Toothbrush:

  • Angle the bristles of the toothbrush toward the gumline.
  • Move the brush gently in an oval motion across the gumline.
  • Brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • And be sure to brush the tongue; doing so removes bacteria and freshens your breath. 

Instructions Using an Electric or Ultrasonic Toothbrush:

  • Angle the bristles of the toothbrush toward the gumline.
  • Adapt the brush along the rounded contour of the tooth.
  • Allow the mechanical action of the brush to cleanse the tooth.
  • Do not scrub the tooth with the brush.
  • Cleanse the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • And be sure to use the electric toothbrush on your tongue; doing so removes bacteria and freshens your breath. 

What’s In A Toothpaste Matters

It’s important to choose fluoride toothpaste accepted by the American Dental Association. While there are many good products on the market our team recommends that you choose one of the many available that has earned the ADA seal of approval for fighting gum disease and tooth decay. Colgate Total and Crest Pro-Health are two that we prefer.

Beyond regular fluoride toothpastes, there are a number of others that can be considered, and still more that should be ruled out. Sensitivity toothpastes, for example, are recommended to help reduce gumline sensitivity to cold or touch. But whitening toothpastes are not proven to actually change tooth shade – they simply remove stains, just like any other ADA accepted toothpaste. Finally, tartar control toothpastes are not consistently shown to change the amount of tartar that builds up and have never been proven to decrease the potential for gum disease. So when it comes to choosing a toothpaste – stick to the basics.

Put Away the “Piks”

If you’ve mastered the toothbrush – or even battled with flossing – and you’re thinking of using a WaterPik, or something like it, think again. The WaterPik and similar products are only effective in removing food debris, not plaque. What’s more, they can force food debris deeper into pockets of the teeth, resulting in decay or gum disease over time. For these reasons, we recommend avoiding a WaterPik or similar product – and replacing it with inter-dental cleaners like a Prox-A-Brush or Stim-U-Dent.

Don’t Forget To Floss

Flossing between teeth is essential in removing plaque from areas that a toothbrush can’t always reach. While it’s important to floss once per day, it’s most effective to floss before bedtime because plaque left on teeth during the night – when the mouth dries out – causes more damage than plaque that builds up during the day.

Instructions To Floss:

Break off about 18 inches of floss – the distance between the elbow and wrist.

Wrap nearly all of the floss around the middle finger of one hand and the remaining floss around the middle finger of the opposite hand; this second finger takes up the floss as it’s used.

There should always be about four inches of floss between fingers.

Your index fingers and thumbs help gently guide the floss to a space between two teeth, using a side-to-side, sawing stroke. Keep one finger or thumb in the mouth, the other out. Once in between teeth, hold the floss tightly against the tooth, pulling forward or pushing backward to create a “C” shape to the floss – and glide the floss in an up-and-down stroke, a few times on the pulling side, then a few times on the pushing side of each space.

Always use a new area of floss to do the next tooth – and don’t forget behind the last one.

When It Comes To Choosing Flosses, You Decide Which Is Best

Unwaxed floss is preferred for most patients. Its tiny threads actually spread out  during use, covering more surface area. But for patients with tightly spaced teeth, waxed floss may be easier to handle because it can easily slip between the hard to reach areas. Try POH unwaxed floss for general use or Johnson and Johnson waxed floss for tight contacts.

Rinsing Can’t Hurt

While rinsing had not yet been proven to be significantly effective in oral hygiene, it can make patients feel good, and certainly can’t hurt – if it’s done after brushing and flossing. In some cases, dentists prescribe a fluoride rinse for tooth decay or an antimicrobial rinse for gum disease. But both are to be used strictly as prescribed. Mouthwashes like Scope are not typically effective in fighting gum disease, but can be used simply to make the mouth feel fresh. Listerine is the only mouthwash currently available with published studies that show its effectiveness in reducing bacteria in the mouth. That effectiveness is limited to 30 minutes after use – and it’s not the same as flossing – a federal judge ruled that those ads were misleading and harmful so they were pulled from the air. To ensure your mouthwash has some clinical benefit, look for the ADA seal on the packaging.

If the fresh breath feels good, consider rinsing in moderation. But beware, recent studies show excessive use of mouthwash with high alcohol content does contribute to an increased risk of oral cancer. Make sure your mouthwash is alcohol free. Most are these days.