A beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our ultimate goal when treating patients. Your personal home care plays an important role in achieving that goal. Your personal home care starts by correctly using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease. It is also important to eat balanced meals, choose healthy snacks and avoid sugary, acidic drinks.
Brushing and flossing are of paramount importance to oral hygiene. Though bi-annual professional dental cleanings remove plaque, tartar, and debris, excellent homecare methods are equally valuable. Proper brushing and flossing can enhance the health of the mouth, make the smile sparkle, and prevent serious diseases.
Reasons why proper brushing and flossing are essential:
- Prevention of tooth decay – Tooth decay is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, and its treatment often requires complex dental procedures. Tooth decay occurs when the acids found in plaque erode the natural enamel found on the teeth. This phenomenon can easily be prevented by using proper home hygiene methods.
- Prevention of periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is a serious, progressive condition which can cause tooth loss, gum recession, and jawbone recession. Periodontal disease is caused by the toxins found in plaque and can lead to serious health problems in other parts of the body. Removing plaque and calculus (tartar) from the surface of the tooth using a toothbrush and from the interdental areas using dental floss, is an excellent way to stave off periodontal problems.
- Prevention of halitosis – Bad breath or halitosis is usually caused by old food particles on or between the teeth. These food particles can be removed with regular brushing and flossing, leaving the mouth healthier, and breath smelling fresher.
- Prevention of staining – Staining, or yellowing, of teeth can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as smoking, coffee, and tea. The more regularly these staining agents are removed from the teeth using brushing and flossing techniques, the less likely it is that the stains will become permanent.
Members of the All Smiles team will help you to develop a home care routine based on your individual condition and assist in improving your technique.
Brushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day, ideally in the morning and before bed. Use a soft bristled brush. An electric toothbrush is ideal and more effective than manual brushing. Brushing your teeth should take about two minutes. Use fluoridated toothpaste with the Canadian Dental Association seal. This ensures that the product has been independently reviewed and any oral health benefit claims are supported by scientific evidence.
Using a manual brush:
- Place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums and gently brush using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles along the gumline.
- Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside of the front teeth.
- Use back and forth strokes to brush the chewing surfaces.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
- Change your toothbrush every 3 months.
Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and more effective than using a manual brush. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your teeth along the gumline and allow the brush to do its job. Power brushes usually have a timer to help make sure you are brushing for two minutes. Make sure to brush all surfaces of your teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue. Change the toothbrush head every 3 months.
Flossing – Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.
- Take 30-40cm of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 5cm of floss between the hands.
- Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
- Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
Floss holders have some limitations but are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.
Use other dental aids as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist: Interdental brushes, rubber tip stimulators, tongue cleaners, irrigation devices, fluoride, medicated rinses, etc., can all play a role in good dental home care.