Tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease are the result of bacteria. The decrease and/or elimination of these bacteria, via mechanical and chemical care will achieve good oral health. However, variables, such as diet, medical and physical health, and genetics will indirectly affect the success of good oral health. The following information is a cursory review of good oral hygiene and health. Please consult with our staff for applicable and customized information.
While the majority of oral problems can be avoided by the simple maintenance steps in the Home Care section, it is strongly encouraged that the average person have a dental appointment a minimum of two times a year. A regular dental re-care appointment will include a prophylaxis (cleaning), radiographs (x-rays), and a dental exam. At this appointment, oral hygiene will be assessed and customized accordingly.
- Without proper home and professional care of teeth, tooth loss due to periodontal (gum) disease and decay will occur. Being progressive will allow for the necessary treatment to be simple and more affordable. Periodontal disease often occurs without symptoms, so proactive dental care is paramount in achieving and maintaining good oral health.
- Teeth are necessary for function, phonetics, and of course, cosmetics. The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) have made an association between periodontal disease and atherosclerosis (cardiovascular and cerebral), diabetes, and low infant birth weight.
Care for your teeth and they will take care of you!
Home Care For Oral Health & Hygiene
Mechanical Cleansing of Oral Cavity
The first step in obtaining and maintaining a healthy mouth is mechanical care. It is imperative that one takes the adequate amount of time each day to manually clean his or her mouth, including teeth, gums and tongue.
Mechanical Care Should Include:
One should brush two to three times daily; each session should be about two minutes in duration. A soft bristle toothbrush should be used to prevent abrading the enamel and to avoid trauma to the gums (gum recession). Brushing should be done in a circular motion, using short gentle strokes.It is important to focus on cleaning all of the teeth including hard to reach places, in the back of the mouth. It is important to brush along the gum line, as well. After cleaning the teeth and gums, the tongue should be brushed or scraped (with tongue scraper), as far back as possible.
Good mechanical brushing should begin with the eruption of the baby teeth and continue throughout one’s lifetime.
It is also imperative to clean between the teeth (interproximal) at least once a day, preferably before brushing. Floss should be non-waxed because wax deposits can remain between teeth. Gently place the floss between the teeth, and while wrapping the floss around the tooth surface, gently move the floss up and down. Like floss, a waterpik removes plaque and debris from between teeth and below the gum line, through water irrigation. To some, the waterpik is advantageous because there is less dexterity required and it is less technique sensitive.
Other Mechanical Devices Include:
- Toothpicks are used to clean between the teeth. There is a risk of trauma to the gums if used inappropriately.
- Rubber tips are similar to toothpicks, and are used to clean between teeth.
- Interproximal brush is a thin brush used to clean between teeth.
- Shower floss is a waterpik connected to a shower head, making waterpiking more convenient and less of a mess.
Everyone needs to clean their teeth with a dentrifice (toothpaste). A dentrifice is a paste, gel or liquid with important ingredients to achieve good oral hygiene. Other chemical options exist and may be recommended or prescribed by your dentist.
Toothpaste is an important agent when it comes to dental care. When selecting a toothpaste, make sure it has been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). The key ingredients are fluoride, pumice and paste. A small amount of toothpaste is adequate and should be expectorated upon completion of brushing.
Fluoride promotes tooth remineralization (hardens enamel) and inhibits many bacteria. An easy way to access fluoride is through public drinking water. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 72.4% of the U.S. is served by a public water systems and therefore receive the benefit of fluoridated water.
Fluoride is also accessible in mouthwashes and via dental prescriptions (fluoride paste, fluoride drops and fluoride tablets).
Note: Daily use/ingestion of fluoride is important in good dental health. Too much fluoride can be detrimental to teeth and health, so only use as directed.
Food and beverages have an impact on the health of your teeth and gums. Each can compromise good oral health.
All foods increase oral bacteria, with sugar laden foods being the worst. Carbohydrates/sugars are necessary for physical health, but should be consumed in lesser amounts and fewer intervals for good dental health. Acidic foods, ie oranges, grapefruits, sour gummies, lemons, etc, will increase mouth acidity, which accelerates decay. This acid will also cause chemical erosion of the enamel and dental materials. Chewy and sticky foods will adhere to the teeth and gums for longer periods of time, thus there is more time for decay and gum disease. Again, these foods should be eaten in moderation and fewer intervals.
Sugar-laden beverages increase the risk of decay and periodontal disease. Acidic beverages, ie sugar-free soda, sports drinks, water with lemon, etc, increases the risk of decay and periodontal disease, and cause erosion of the tooth enamel and dental materials. Sugary and acidic beverages should be consumed minimally at meal time. Water should be the “drink of choice” throughout the day.
- Vitamins and Medications:
Many over-the-counter pharmaceuticals are high in carbohydrates and ascorbic (citric) acid, so frequent use can increase decay, gum disease and chemical erosion. Consultation with your physician regarding the side affects of prescription medication is necessary to determine possible alterations, if your dentist or hygienist suspects detrimental affects to the oral cavity.