Important Dental Information for Patients
How To Brush Your Teeth
The first step is to choose a good toothbrush. You always want to use a soft brush with a small head. A soft brush is hard enough to remove plaque, yet gentle enough not to damage your teeth or gums.
The next issue is to select good toothpaste. In general, any toothpaste that contains Fluoride will do the job, unless you have special needs that are determined by your dentist. Two of the best brands of toothpastes are Colgate Total and Crest Multicare.
Brushing is an essential part of the tooth-cleaning process. Brushing removes plaque from:
- the chewing surfaces
- the check and tongue sides of teeth
- at the gum line, where periodontal disease often begins.
Most people tend to brush too hard so we strongly advise the use of a soft toothbrush or an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are recommended for people who tend to brush too hard. It is also a good idea to change your brush about every three months.
For the back teeth, hold the brush at a 45 degree angle in relation to the gumline (Step 1). Use short, circular strokes as you move the brush at the junction of the gums and teeth. Also brush the chewing surfaces of these teeth by hold the brush parallel to the surface of the teeth and brush back and forth.
For the tongue side of the front teeth, hold the brush so that the bristles at the top of the brush contact the gums at a 45 degree angle (Step 2). Again, use short, circular stokes to clean the teeth. For the cheek side, hold the brush from the side at a 45 degree angle and use short, circular strokes (Step 3).
You can also brush the surface of your tongue to remove the bacteria and debris that reside on the surface.
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How To Floss Your Teeth
The surfaces that are between teeth are not accessible to brush; therefore, the best way to clean them is by flossing. The frequency of flossing is like brushing and ideally after each meal, though one time a day (before going to bed) is the minimum necessary.
To start, cut a piece of dental floss (approximately 2 feet). Wrap both sides of the floss around your middle fingers. Using your index and thumb, glide the floss in between all your teeth one by one. When flossing, make sure you are not cutting your gums. The goal is to clean the teeth surfaces, not the gums. In the space in between teeth, press the floss against each side of the tooth (hug the tooth) and gently move it back and forth and up and down. Then move to the opposite surface of the adjacent tooth.
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Electric Vs. Manual Brush
There have been multiple studies comparing the effectiveness of manual brushes as opposed to electric brushes.
Although not all electric brushes are the same, these studies conclude that in general electric brushes are more efficient in controlling plaque than manual brushes. Theoretically, you can do a very good brushing with a regular hand brush, but the movements of an electric brush make the task easier and more effective.
Also, some electric brushes (Sonicare) produce sonic vibrations that are difficult to mimic with a hand brush! Other electric brushes like Oral-B and Rotadent have small heads that help you access hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. This aspect is more important when you are talking about someone with orthodontic braces or a history of gum disease.
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There are a few different causes of bad breath. Ranging from stomach problems to diets and teeth problems, most of the causes can be found in the mouth. They are:
- Tongue (when bacteria grows in between the papilla)
- Teeth cavities (especially when food particles get stuck in them)
- Gum diseases
- Extraction sites during healing
- Dentures when not cleaned properly
- Alcohol and tobacco
If you or someone you know is concerned about bad breath, the first step is a dental check up. Your dentist will be able to confirm or rule out the source of bad breath.
When the cause is found, treatment will be determined and explained by your dentist. If the source of the bad breath is your mouth, there is little chance that mouth washes or mints can treat the problem. They usually mask the problem for a short period of time, and can sometimes exacerbate the situation (mouthwashes that contain alcohol cause dry mouth and usually make the bad breath worse).
These are a few other, non-dental reasons that cause bad breath:
- Sore throat
- Some food
- Infection of air passages
Following a good oral hygiene routine and receiving regular dental check ups are the best ways to prevent bad breath.
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Tips For Keeping Your Teeth Healthy
Remember, if you have dry mouth, you need to be extra careful to keep your teeth healthy. Make sure you:
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- Gently brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss your teeth every day.
- Use toothpaste with fluoride in it. Most toothpastes sold at grocery and drug stores have fluoride in them.
- Avoid sticky, sugary foods. If you do eat them, brush immediately afterwards.
- Visit your dentist for a check-up at least twice a year. Your dentist might give you a special fluoride solution that you can rinse with to help keep your teeth healthy.