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. Many sonic toothbrushes now has pressure sensors to help you find just the right amount of pressure.
Sonic toothbrush heads should be replaced every 3 months, or when the bristles appear even slightly matted. If you use a manual brush, replace it at least every 3 months – longer than that and it will not work as well. Ask your dental hygienist about other products that may be best suited for you.
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.
You May Take a sonicare home with you today
The Sonicare Diamond Clean is available in our office for $175 (minus a $20 mail in rebate). This is the best toothbrush on the market and may also be found at local retailers and on Amazon.com.
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.
You may take a water flosser Home with You Today
An Aquarius Waterpik water-flosser is available in our office ($84 minus a $5 rebate). This is the best model available, as it generates the most power, and is also available on Amazon.com.
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 Rinse
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.