Oral Hygiene

Great oral hygiene can mean something different to everyone – maybe it means sparkling white teeth, having that squeaky-clean feeling, or fresh breath all day long. Whatever great oral hygiene means to you, oral hygiene from a practical perspective is always the same – brushing and flossing daily. When an effective oral health regimen is paired with routine dental exams, you’ve set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy smiles. 

However, oral hygiene is about more than just a sparking and radiant smile – it’s about having healthy teeth, gums, and a healthy mouth overall. Most common oral health complications, like tooth decay, are easily preventable with proper oral hygiene and routine dental exams. Other oral health complications, like gum disease, are also preventable, and can result in tooth loss and infections which can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. 

Oral health is a determinant of overall health in many regards, and complications and diseases in other parts of the body often manifest into oral health symptoms. The opposite is also true, meaning that poor oral health can result in complications in the rest of the body. This is why having great oral health is so important to overall health and quality of life. 

Maintaining Oral Health

Routine visits to your dentist at least twice per year are central to any smart oral health regimen – these appointments give your dentist the opportunity to spot small oral health complications early on, before they turn into more severe complications. Your dentist will clean your teeth, examine them for any complications, and may take x-rays to view the underlying structure of your teeth and jaw. Your dentist may also take this time to give oral health advice, such as going over proper brushing technique. 

Overall, a smart oral health regimen should contain these items: 

Proper Brushing and Flossing Technique Brushing twice daily and flossing at least once daily are imperative to maintaining long-term oral health. This removes harmful plaque from your teeth and gums, which transform sugars into enamel-eroding acids. Be sure to brush and floss regularly to avoid tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. 

The Right Amount of Fluoride Fluoride aids in oral health maintenance by protecting enamel, and is also vital for developing teeth. Be sure to use a toothpaste that contains enamel, and if your dentist believes that your teeth need to be receiving more enamel, they can provide you with these specialty toothpastes. 

Careful Snacking Snacks that are packed with sugar can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy smile – avoid these snacks to avoid tooth decay, plaque formation, cavities, and gum disease. Between meals, give your mouth a break from snacking to keep bacteria-forming acids off of your teeth, and limit sugary snacks overall. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy snacking – simply opt for more nutritious snacks that contain little to no sugar. 

The Right Mouthwash — While many believe the purpose of mouthwash is to give you fresh breath, the right mouthwash can help protect your teeth from harmful bacteria and decay. Not all mouthwashes are made the same – some whiten, some strengthen enamel, some contain higher amounts of fluoride (usually ones given to you by your dentist) and some do all of the above. However, mouthwash generally serves the purpose of killing harmful bacteria in the mouth and therefore fighting cavities and infection. If you have sensitive teeth or other special circumstances, communicate this with your dentist and they’ll recommend the best mouthwash for you. 

No Tobacco Products Regardless of the type of tobacco products you may consume, there are mountains of research confirming the harmful effects of tobacco products on oral health as well as overall health. These products can cause tooth decay, lung disease, heart disease, and tooth loss. If you use tobacco products of any form, be sure to quit to maintain optimal oral health, as well as maintain overall health. 

Routine Dental Exams and Cleanings Dental exams and hygiene appointments are the bedrock of a healthy and bright smile. Be sure to get in and see your dentist every six months, so they can examine your teeth for small oral health concerns before they become anything more severe. Also, your dentist may request x-rays, which help them examine your underlying tooth structure and spot any complications. 

The central goal of dental hygiene is to protect and maintain the health of your teeth and gums for life. If you create and stick to a smart oral health regimen, you better the chances of living a lifetime of healthy and bright smiles! 

The cornerstone of any smart oral health regimen is brushing, more particularly brushing correctly. While you may have learned one way to brush since childhood and have been brushing this way since then, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to brushing technique. Follow these smart tips to brush more effectively, and rid your teeth and mouth of harmful bacteria: 

Why is brushing so important? The process of brushing your teeth removes harmful plaque from your teeth – plaque clings to your teeth and is laden with bacteria. Plaque can wreak havoc on tooth enamel and aids in the formation of cavities, bad breath, gum disease, and many other minor and major oral health complications. In fact, the vast majority of oral health concerns are caused simply by the formation and build up of plaque. Not only does brushing feel great and leave you with that fresh, healthy feeling, but it leaves your mouth healthy! There is no single correct way to brush, but there are several techniques you can follow to brush as effectively as possible –  

Effective Brushing Technique

  • Use a brush with soft bristles and a small brush head and hold it gently. Use a small drop of toothpaste containing fluoride (about the size of a pea). 
  • Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and brush in soft strokes near the gum line.
  • Brush carefully and gently over your teeth and gums in gentle movements. The same goes for electric brushed. 
  • Divide your teeth into 6 sections – upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left, top front teeth, and bottom front teeth. Slowly move between these sections to ensure a full and complete clean. 
  • Tilt the brush upwards towards the gum line for all of these surfaces. To clean your chewing surfaces, move onto your molars and softly brush the top and sides of these teeth. 
  • To finish, gently brush your tongue to strip away bacteria and ensure fresh breath. 

Take A Look At Your Teeth 

Examine your teeth in the mirror to spot any bits of food left between your teeth or plaque accumulation. Run your finger or tongue over your teeth and feel for overall cleanliness and smoothness. Also, your dentist can let you know where to find special solutions that you place on your teeth that highlights areas of plaque formation. Use this solution to get an accurate picture of how well you’re brushing! 

One of the most common issues amongst patients is simply that they don’t spend enough time brushing – you should always brush for at least two minutes, and a good way to ensure this is with the “song strategy.” Put on a great song you love that’s about two minutes long, and brush until the song ends. It’s that easy! You can also set a timer on your phone, another great way to ensure that you’re brushing long enough. This may seem a bit tedious, but there’s nothing more important than your health, and oral health is heavily to connected to your overall health. 

Improving Comfort While Brushing and Flossing 
Brushing and flossing your teeth should never be uncomfortable or painful, but a relaxing, soothing process that leaves your teeth, gums and mouth feeling great. If flossing using the two-finger method is difficult, you may want to try using flosser picks and flossing brushes. Your dentist can often provide one in your post-appointment goodie bag! 

Whatever brushing and flossing technique works for you, always be sure that you enjoy the process of brushing, and that you achieve a cleaners and healthier smile every time you brush. 

Equally important to brushing is flossing, which you should do at least once per day. If you skip flossing, over 30% of your tooth surface goes uncleaned, potentially leading to plaque formation and decay. 

Again, you should always floss at least once per day, as this removes harmful decay-causing plaque from in between your teeth. Flossing allows you to clean the tooth surfaces that your toothbrush alone can’t reach, and also fights against tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health complications. While many patients don’t enjoy flossing, using a flosser or flosser brush can make flossing easy. Simply ask your dentist about these during your next appointment and they can provide you with one in your post-appointment goodie bag, or pick them up at your local grocery store. 

Just as important as flossing itself is the technique that you brush with. Follow these simply steps to floss like a pro every time: 

Effective Flossing Technique

  • Pull off a strand of dental floss about a foot-and-a-half long, and wrap both ends around your index fingers. Use your thumbs and other fingers to properly navigate the floss around and in between your teeth. 
  • Avoid the common mistake of closing your lips while flossing, as this makes it much more difficult to place your fingers in your mouth, which is necessary during flossing. Relax and allow your mouth to remain open, and this will make flossing much easier and more relaxing. 
  • Carefully move the floss in between your teeth and gently push the floss against your tooth surface. Avoid snapping the floss down in between your gums and this can cause unnecessary bleeding and pain. Use a gentle back and forth movement, but be sure to also gently push the floss in between your teeth.  
  • Floss each side of each of your tooth’s surface, not just one side of the other. Bend the floss around the tooth to make a “U” shape. 
  • Only use a small amount of dental floss between your fingers, as this gives you more control over the direction and effectiveness of the floss. 
  • If your floss is colorized after flossing, maybe a little but brown, this means that plaque is being removed! Roll up the used floss and move to a clean portion of the strand and continue down the rows of your teeth. 

Improving Comfort While Flossing 

Flossing and brushing should be relaxing, comfortable processes, and shouldn’t ever be painful or discomforting. If the index finger method doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, put your fingers in the same sized strand of floss and work it around your tooth surface. 

While there are many different flossing-related products out there, it’s important to have good technique so that whatever flossing products you use, you get the best results from them. Have great flossing technique and know which flossing products work for you, and ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles! 

Brushing and flossing are the foundation of an effective oral health regimen. However, not everyone has the tools necessary to brush and floss most effectively. Some patients, depending on tooth sensitivity or other oral health aspects unique to them, have a harder time maintaining a bright and healthy smile than others. What many patients don’t know is that there are tons of tools you can leverage to keep your smile healthy and bright, no matter what unique oral health qualities you possess! 

One thing that is necessary to proper oral health maintenance is a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride works its magic by protecting your enamel, and fighting off tooth decay and plaque formation. However, your toothbrush alone isn’t enough to clean your entire tooth surface – to do this, you need to get in between your teeth to remove plaque and harmful bacteria. This is where interdental cleaners, proximal brushes, and water picks come into play. 

While there are many kinds of proximal brushes and interdental cleaners available on the market, these products all do the same thing – removes bits of food and plaque from in between your teeth. Remember that none of these tools can replace brushing and flossing, but they rather supplement brushing and flossing to maximize the results you get out of your oral health regimen. 

Interproximal Brushes 

An interproximal brush (pictured to the left) is a small, toothpick-like tool that gets in between your teeth and removes plaque and bacteria very effectively, even more affectively than traditional flossing. These brushes are especially helpful for braces patients, as they make it easy to remove bits of food and bacteria from between brackets and wires. Also, because of its small size, 

The cleaning surface of an interdental brush is similar in shape to a small, conical pipe cleaner. Its short bristles radiate from a thin central wire, which is small enough to pass through a very tight space. The brushes are available with both coated and uncoated wire, and come in different widths to accommodate an individual’s particular dental anatomy. When needed, they can also be used to apply antibacterial or desensitizing agents to certain areas of the teeth or gums.

Oral Cleaning Devices 

While most consumers know about the variety of tooth brushed, tooth picks, mouthwashes, and other common oral health products that are available, many don’t know about the other common, highly effective options available to them. 

One of these products is a water-pick, commonly known as a water-brush or jet brush. The demand for these devices has fluctuated over the years, but the effectiveness of these devices has remained intact. Studies have shown these devices to be extremely effective at removing stubborn plaque from in between teeth and in the gum line. In addition, they’re very effective at cleaning below the gum line, significantly reducing the likelihood of developing gum disease.

Even while this device is effective, brushing and flossing are still the backbone of any smart oral health regimen, and should always be the focus of oral health maintenance. 

If you’re at a heightened risk of developing gum disease or other oral health complications, then additional oral health devices might be for you. 

Mouthwash - The Importance of Mouth RinsesMultiple studies have shown that using a mouth rinse can be an effective way to keep your oral health at its peak. It can be an effective way to fight bad breath, gingivitis, and tooth decay if you use it as a normal part of your at home hygiene habits. There are a plethora of mouth rinses to choose from, and they are accessible at any major retailer. If you need help deciding which mouth wash is best for your oral health, ask one of our doctors during your next visit and they will be able to help out!

Your have to remember that many over the counter mouth washes only help with your breath and might not be an effective tool for fighting tooth decay. If your dentist has informed you during your regular checkup that you’re at an increased risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease, you will need to opt for a mouth rinse that can help you in that aspect.

Decisions in Choosing a Mouthwash 

There are multiple mouthwash options out there. There are some whose main goal is to fight gum disease and others that are designed to fight cavities and restore enamel. The rinses that are designed to help against decay are usually formulated with fluoride in a .05% solution in that specific rinse. These mouth washes are great for getting in the places between your teeth where your enamel might be a little weaker and needs some restoration. Fluoride has been demonstrated time and time to be great for keeping your teeth healthy and the enamel strong to ward off cavities.

Other mouth washes that are focused more on killing bacteria and fighting gingivitis might have ingredients like essential oils, alcohol, or even peroxide. These ingredients are used to fight bacteria from building up in your mouth and damaging your gums. These mouth washes are great for helping keep your gums healthy and your breath fresh.

Picking A Mouth Rinse 

If you are looking for an over-the-counter restorative mouth rinse, search for the ADA (American Dental Affiliation) seal on the bottle that you choose. This shows that the rinse has been assessed and demonstrated viable and effective for its intended use by an autonomous board of dental specialists. Be sure to use your mouth wash that was either given or suggested to you by a dental professional by its intended guidelines. This will ensure that the product is being used in its most effective form for your overall oral health.

Teeth can last a lifetime if you take care of them right — and the best time to start teaching great oral hygiene is just as soon as they begin appearing. By establishing good routines for your children while they are young, they will have the best chance of keeping their natural teeth for their entire lifetime!

Tooth decay is a completely preventable dental issue. Proper home oral hygiene habits and a healthy diet void of lots of sugars and fats can deter the onset of tooth decay.

The primary route to good dental health is being proactive to how you take care of your teeth. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing daily to make sure excessive plaque buildup doesn’t happen is vital. Cavities typically begin from the buildup of bacteria laden plaque in the teeth. What are the most effective techniques for plaque removal and decay prevention? Well that can depend on the age of your child, of course.

Oral Hygiene for Babies

Babies and toddlers can develop a form of tooth decay known as early childhood caries. This occurs when they are allowed to go to sleep just after drinking formula or milk. The sugars in formula milk (even breast milk), and juice can pool around the teeth and feed the decay-causing bacteria. When it comes to bedtime soothing, a pacifier or bottle filled with water is the safest bet for young developing until about age 3. At that point, sucking habits should be discouraged to prevent orthodontic problems from developing later on in life.

Brushing your baby’s first teeth gently with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush, using just a thin smear of fluoride toothpaste, at least once a day at bedtime can be vital in making sure your child’s teeth last. Before a tooth is fully erupted, you can use a water-soaked gauze pad to clean around the tooth and gums.

Make sure your child has his or her first dental visit by age 1. There, you can learn proper hygiene techniques, have your youngster examined for signs of early decay, get a recommendation for fluoride supplements if needed, and have your child get used to the sights and sounds of a dental office.

Dental Hygiene fo Children

Starting at age 3, you can begin teaching your child to brush with a children’s toothbrush and no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. But remember, children will need help with this task until about the age of 6, when they have the fine motor skills to do an effective job themselves.

It’s also extremely important to start encouraging healthy dietary habits at this time. Your child will have less plaque buildup and potential for decay if they steer clear of sugary drinks and foods. This is a vital part on the parents end as they learn by example and can then develop an overall healthy lifestyle in the future.

At your child’s regular dental checkups and cleanings, a topical fluoride treatment can be applied to strengthen tooth enamel and make their teeth more resistant to  decay. If necessary, dental sealants can be applied to the molars to prevent food particles and bacteria from building up in the deeper grooves of the teeth.

Dental Hygiene Practices for Teens
At this point, your children have the primary responsibility for maintaining their day-to-day dental health. But, you can continue to help them make the right dietary and behavioral choices to keep decay away. These include drinking plenty of water and avoiding soda or any other drinks high in acid and sugar. All of those drinks are terrible for you, or your child’s teeth and can eat away at the enamel very quickly. This is particularly important if your teen wears braces, which can make it more difficult to keep teeth clean.

Remember, it’s never too soon to help your child develop good oral hygiene habits that will last a lifetime!

Cavities are little holes in teeth, caused y decay, that can eventually lead to very big problems. They form when tooth-eroding acid and bacteria attacks a tooth’s protective outer covering, called the enamel. This acid and bacteria buildup come from two main sources: your diet, and certain oral bacteria that thrive in the absence of effective oral hygiene. If cavities are not treated right away, decay-causing bacteria can get further into your tooth and damage the root. This can lead to a root canal or even an extraction down the line. The good news is that cavities are preventable! Here are our top three tips to keep stave off tooth decay:

Brush & Floss Every Day

Brushing and flossing is vital to your oral and dental health. Brushing is important to removing the bacteria and food that has built up on the chewing surfaces and other parts of your teeth. Flossing is important in reaching between the teeth where brushing typically can’t get to. If you maintain these two habits you will be setting yourself up to have healthy teeth and gums for years and years to come!

Pay Attention to Your Diet
Certain foods and beverages are no friends to your teeth, and soda tops that list. Soda, sports drinks, juices, and energy drinks are all very acidic in nature and can erode your enamel with ease. This makes your teeth very prone to decay. Water is the best fluid you can drink. Mainly because it has a balanced pH and can help restore saliva, which has natural cavity fighting properties. Sugary and starchy foods like cookies, candy, donuts, and chips are also very problematic especially if they remain on your teeth for prolonged periods of time. They nourish the bacteria that cause cavities and raise the acidity level in your mouth.

See Your Dentist Regularly
Routine cleanings and exams from dental professionals are a great way to maintain excellent oral health. Your dental hygienist can clean areas of your mouth that you usually can’t reach with your tooth brush or by flossing. We can also check for early signs of tooth decay and take the required action. Even more, we can recommend specific preventive treatments and take action if you are particularly prone to cavities. These include in-office fluoride treatments and dental sealants, both of which are quick, easy and effective procedures. Special mouth rinses might also be recommended. Working together, we can make sure your oral hygiene routine is all it should be and that decay is kept at bay.

Toothpaste InformationToothpaste is something most people use every day, but they rarely give much thought to except what brand they are going to choose. What are the differences? Will they do what they say on the box? These are all questions that can be answered by the help of you dentist as well.

The soft, slightly grainy paste that you use on your tooth brush is the latest in dental health technology that actually dates back to the Egyptians! Those early mixtures had ingredients like crushed bones, pumice, and ashes, but you definitely won’t find that any more. Modern toothpastes have evolved into an effective means of cleaning teeth and preventing decay. Today, most have a similar set of active ingredients, including:

  • Abrasives: These help remove surface deposits and stains from teeth, and make the mechanical action of brushing more effective. They typically include gentle cleaning and polishing agents like hydrated silica or alumina, calcium carbonate or dicalcium phosphate.
  • Detergents: Sodium lauryl sulfate helps produce the bubbly foam you may notice when brushing vigorously. They are used to break up and dissolve substances that would normally be hard to wash away, just like they do in the laundry, but with far milder ingredients.
  • Fluoride: This is the vital tooth-protective ingredient in toothpaste. Whether it shows up as sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, or sodium monofluorophosphate (MFP), fluoride has been proven to help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent decay.

Most toothpastes also contain preservatives, binders, and flavorings. Without these they would tend to dry out, separate, or taste awful. In addition, some specialty toothpastes have additional ingredients for other purposes.

  • Whitening toothpastes; these generally contain special abrasives or enzymes designed to help remove stains on the tooth’s surfaces. Whether or not they will work for you depends on the reason your teeth are stained in the first place. If you have a surface stain, they can be very effective. However, they probably won’t help with internal discolorations, which may require a professional whitening treatment.
  • Toothpastes for sensitive teeth; these toothpastes often include ingredients like potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which can block sensations of hot, cold, and even pain. Teeth may become sensitive when dentin, which is the material within the tooth, that is normally covered by enamel or gums, becomes exposed in the mouth. These ingredients can make brushing less painful, but it may take a few weeks until you really notice their effects.

What’s the best way to choose a toothpaste? The main thing you should look for is the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance on the label. It means that the toothpaste contains fluoride and that the manufacturer’s claims have been tested and verified. Even after you have chosen your preferred toothpaste, keep in mind that you need to maintain your healthy habits to keep your mouth and teeth healthy!

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