Oral Hygiene Instructions
Why is oral hygiene for teeth and gums so important?
Plaque is bacteria that constantly grows on your teeth. If left on your teeth, it will infect your gums.
Gum infections hardly ever hurt, but they lead to gum recession, bone loss, and loss of teeth. And they spread bacteria through the blood. That can stress the immune system, make diabetes worse, initiate heart and joint infections, contribute to high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
The good news is proper oral hygiene goes a long way in preventing and helping to treat gum infections – along with thorough professional cleanings.
Which kind of toothbrush?
A powered toothbrush is usually best, but a manual one can work well. The best kind of toothbrush is a sonic brush. Move it over all the surfaces of your teeth and gums with a gentle short scrubbing motion almost like you’d use a manual toothbrush but with much lighter pressure.
If you’re going to use a manual (disposable) toothbrush, use one with soft bristles; avoid the cheap ones which usually have hard bristles that can damage teeth and gums. Plaque is soft and is best removed with soft bristles.
It takes at least 3 minutes to brush a full set of teeth well, no matter which type of toothbrush is used. Brush gently, use small scrubbing strokes. Brush in the morning before breakfast, and before you go to bed. Try to not bend the bristles much.
Replace a powered head as soon as its bristles become bent. If you use a manual brush, replace it at least every three months – longer than that and it will not work as well. Tiny cylindrical ‘Proxabrushes’ or ‘Go-Betweens’ can brush between teeth where spaces are wide enough to fit.
Use a Waterpik twice a day
It’s a power-washer that cleans deeper than floss. Getting the food and bacteria out from between your teeth and under your gums between meals is the most important thing you can do for your gums. Point the water-jet toward your gum line and keep it gently against your teeth while moving around the gum line of every tooth.
Use it every morning after breakfast and every evening after eating. Use the highest power setting that doesn’t hurt. You might need to start low and increase it as your gums get healthier. Healthy gums usually tolerate full power if a bite problem isn’t causing gum sensitivity. Warm water feels best. Use a full tank of water for a full set of upper teeth and another full tank for a full set of lower teeth.
Floss if you do not Waterpik
Wrap the ends loosely around your middle fingers until there are a few inches of floss between. Use the tips of your index fingers and/or thumbs to saw/slide the floss through contacts between adjacent teeth.
When under a contact, push the floss firmly against one tooth while sliding it up and down (not sawing) to scrape the bacteria off. Then slide it against the other tooth before pulling the floss out and moving to another area. Oral-b ‘floss picks’ are disposable flossers with handles.
Most people find them easier to use than regular floss. A package of 90 for a few dollars might be a good investment.
Closys antibacterial drink
Closys from Walgreens is the best mouth rinse for killing bacteria that cause gum infections and cavities, and it’s the best mouth rinse for bad breath. Remove the cap and poke a small hole in the paper seal and use it as a squirt bottle – squirt some into your mouth and brush it in. Use it as a finishing rinse after you’ve brushed and Waterpik. Swishing with it a few times per day will also help prevent cavities.
All of that helps, but the best way to prevent cavities is to avoid anything but water between meals. Acidic drinks (soda and fruit juice) leach minerals from teeth and weaken them, making them more vulnerable to decay. Any bacterial plaque left on teeth turns sugars and starches into strong acids that eat holes into the teeth. Starving bacterial plaque between meals will nearly eliminate any progression of decay.
You may take a water flosser and a sonic toothbrush home today
A Waterpik water-flosser is available in our office ($75 minus a $15 rebate).
A Waterpik water flosser/sonic brush combination unit is available in our office ($95 minus a $5 rebate).
These are the best models available. You might find them for $10-$20 less on amazon.com.