While you may have been told how important oral hygiene is to keeping your teeth healthy, adults over the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum disease than cavities, with three out of four adults affected at some time in their life by this condition. If you want to avoid cavities and periodontal (gum) disease, the best way to start is by committing to a strict routine of brushing and flossing daily.
Whether you have tooth decay or gum disease, both are caused by unremoved dental plaque. This colorless film sticks to teeth at the gum line, but it also forms on the gum tissue. It’s always forming on your teeth thanks to bacterial activities, which is why daily oral care is so important to its removal.
If you notice any pain, tenderness, or other discomforts while brushing, or you simply have a question about brushing in general, don’t wait to contact our dental office.
According to Dr. Kalluri, using a toothbrush made with soft bristles is the best option. Place the brush head at a 45-degree angle when brushing, specifically where the gums meet your teeth. Moving in a circular motion, gently move the brush several times around your teeth gums using small strokes. Use light pressure while also making sure that the bristles are getting in between your teeth. Do not brush so hard that you feel discomfort. After cleaning the outside surfaces of your teeth, do the same for the inside surfaces. Cleaning the upper and lower front teeth requires holding the brush at a vertical angle, just make sure to brush the surrounding gum tissue as well!
Finally, clean the biting surfaces of your teeth using the same gentle stroke we mentioned earlier. Move your brush as needed to reach the flat surfaces of your molars and premolars. Make sure you removed as much food debris as possible by checking in your bathroom mirror. Once you’ve completely finished brushing, rinse your mouth vigorously with water to remove any loose plaque.
Gum disease is more likely to appear in places that a toothbrush cannot adequately reach. Thankfully, flossing offers an exceptional way to remove plaque from the sides of teeth as well as within the gum pockets. In order to do this effectively and efficiently, you’ll need to practice. With help from Dr. Kalluri, you’ll be on your way to flossing daily in no time!
To start, pull out a piece of floss that is about 18 inches long. If you have very few gaps in your smile, a waxed or monofilament floss will be the easier floss to use. Wrap the floss around each middle finger and wind it up until you have a small portion of floss in between them. This will be the portion that slides between your teeth.
Holding the floss tightly against your thumb and forefinger, insert the floss and gently move back and forth to remove plaque and food debris. You’ll know that you placed the floss deep enough when you feel minimal resistance. Avoid forcing or snapping the floss as this can damaged enamel. After the floss reaches the gum line, curve it so that it’s flat against the tooth and rub it up and down. Then, begin flossing each side of all the upper teeth, making sure not to irritate any gum tissue in the process. Once the floss has become soiled with plaque, unravel floss from your finger and move to another clean section. Cleaning the bottom teeth is as simple as guiding the floss using your forefingers. Once you reach the back teeth, make sure to reach the sides facing towards you.
Rinse your mouth out after flossing to remove any remaining food particles. If you notice bleeding or soreness after the first week of flossing, it simply means that your mouth is getting used to the habit. However, if your gums hurt while you floss, it could mean that you are simply flossing too hard. Over the next week or so, your gums will become used to the daily plaque removal and the bleeding should cease.
Teeth can feel sensitive to hot and cold temperatures at times, especially immediately following dental treatments. If no problems are present with your teeth, then this sensitivity should not last very long, assuming your mouth is clean. If your teeth are not clean, the sensitivity will remain and even worsen if not properly maintained. If your teeth feel so sensitive that you can’t eat, drink or perform basic tasks properly, it’s time to consult our dental office. We may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse depending on the severity.
Are you not sure which oral care products to choose? With so many available on the market, Dr. Kalluri wants to make the process a little bit easier. Consider her suggestions below the next time you need to go shopping for oral care products.
Electronic toothbrushes have been increasing in popularity over the years thanks to their many features and ease-of-use. They are safe and effective for most patients, which can also be said for oral irrigators (water picks), which rinse your mouth out more thoroughly, even if they don’t remove plaque. Brushing and flossing should never be replaced by using only an irrigator. With that said, our dental office recommends the Rotadent and Interplak devices.
You may have seen manual toothbrushes with a rubber-tipped handle, which is intended for massaging the gums after your brushing. Interproximal toothbrushes also work to reach spaces between your teeth. However, improver use of these brushes can damage your gums. It’s best to speak with a dental professional or your doctor before using them.
When done in tandem with brushing and flossing, fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses can reduce tooth decay by up to 40 percent. Just remember that these products should not be used by children under the age of six. If you have difficulty keeping tartar at bay, tartar control toothpastes can reduce buildup along the gum line. However, it cannot address tartar development below the gum line and have not been proven capable of reducing the early stages of gum disease.
According to the American Dental Association, some anti-plaque rinses contain ingredients that help reduce and manage gum disease. However, these products do require their Seal of Approval first and must always be done in tandem with brushing and flossing.
With the help of daily brushing and flossing in between routine cleanings, you can avoid a majority of dental disease. However, only a dentist can remove calculus (tartar) via a professional dental cleaning. These visits are essential to helping you and your family prevent gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss.