Why is oral hygiene so important?
Did you know? Adults over the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases (periodontal disease) than from cavities. The best prevention of cavities and periodontal disease is proper brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent gum disease and decay.
How to Brush Teeth
Recommended to use a soft toothbrush, brush in a circular motion getting all of the tooth surfaces (cheek side, tongue side, biting surfaces) also gently brush the gums and tongue or you can use a tongue scraper.
How to Floss
Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces.
Gently insert the floss using a back and forth motion, making sure you don’t snap or force the floss down as this could damage your gums. Once the floss is inserted, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth and move the floss up and down, and then make another c-shape towards the other side.
Caring for Sensitive Teeth
Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long, but only if the mouth is kept clean. If the mouth is not kept clean the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive consult with your doctor. They may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.
Choosing Oral Hygiene Products
There are many products on the market and choosing products can be difficult.
- Electric toothbrushes are preferred over manual. They provide deeper clean, offer different settings and pressures, have a 2 minute timer, and a pressure sensor that lets you know if you’re brushing too hard. A brand we recommend at Nakoma Dental is the Sonicare which can also be purchased at our office. Remember to change your toothbrush every 3 months and when you’re ill.
- It’s recommended that your toothpaste has fluoride in it. Fluoride contains anti-cavity protection as well as helps with tooth sensitivity.
- Fluoride mouth rinses such as ACT, in addition to brushing and flossing, and using a fluoride toothpaste and rinse can reduce tooth decay as much as 40%.
Professional Dental Cleaning
Prophy: regular cleanings usually every 6 months for orally healthy patients with mild issues/concerns regarding their gums and who are at low risk for cavities.
Full Mouth Debridement (FMD): involves the preliminary removal of plaque and calculus that interferes with the ability of the dentist to perform a comprehensive oral evaluation. If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to the dentist and have a hard time keeping your mouth clean, it’s nearly impossible for the dentist to do a proper exam with existing plaque and tartar in the way.
Scaling and Root Planing (SRP): a deep cleaning where we will numb your mouth/gums so you’re comfortable which allows us to be able to reach the end of the pockets to clean thoroughly. Scaling is using instruments to remove the plaque and tartar on the tooth and root. The instruments also reach under the gums to eliminate the plaque and tartar buildup that’s inflaming the gums. Root Planing is smoothing the roots of your teeth or where you may have bone loss. Cleaning this surface to allow the gums to reattach where they’ve been pulled way to clean.
Why you may need this cleaning? Your toothbrush and dental floss can only clean so far below the gum-line. When plaque and tartar (bacterial colonies) sit on the gums and roots of your teeth, inflammation occurs. This inflammation and the bacteria that cause it, release toxins that can cause gingivitis, bleeding gums, and bone loss (periodontitis). If gum disease is left untreated, it could lead to:
- Severe bone loss
- Tissue (gum) loss
- Loose/mobile teeth
- Loss of teeth altogether
Perio Maintenance: After the deep cleaning (SRP) it’s recommended to keep your mouth healthy and periodontal condition stable by getting your teeth and gums cleaned every 3 months. The bacterium that causes gum disease does not go away completely. Periodontal maintenance is a process in which we monitor gum health, remove plaque and tartar below the gum line, and use techniques and instruments different than a “regular cleaning”. Periodontal maintenance alone will not keep gum
disease at bay, meticulous homecare with proper brushing and flossing are crucial in reducing bacteria and preventing another flare up of your gums. Quitting smoking is also in the best interest of your oral health.
Most insurance will only cover 2 periodontal maintenance cleanings a year even if we recommend coming every 3 months. In some cases with existing conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease or lung conditions, all of the cleanings may be covered. Once you’ve had SRP, insurance will no longer cover a “regular cleaning” again, and you will be on periodontal maintenance for life.