Oral hygiene is important to the health of your mouth, teeth and gums. The basis of oral hygiene is brushing and flossing.
The tooth brush you use is important and often misunderstood. We recommend that you use a soft, manual toothbrush. Lately, there has been a lot of marketing of powered or “electric” toothbrushes. Powered brushes were initially developed for people with disabilities, primarily arthritis. Occupational therapists developed a toothbrush with easy to grab and manipulate wide handles. We used to enlarge the handle with a toilet paper tube filled with plaster of Paris to help grip and control the toothbrush. Although effective, we find that the power brushes are overly abrasive to the teeth and wear them down more quickly than a manual toothbrush. We recommend brushing two times per day, despite your diet.
The toothpaste people use is not as important as people may think. Today’s dentifrices contain fluoride, which is important to help prevent caries or tooth decay. Tooth pastes also possess a polishing agent, like pumice to polish off plaque and stains from teeth. The other ingredients in toothpaste are less significant, whether they be whitener, tarter control agent’s due to the short amount of time they are in contact with the teeth. There are also antimicrobial agents in many dentifrices that are also not recommended. Generally speaking, the mouth has a delicate balance of good and bad bacterial and we don’t recommend affecting that balance. Toothpaste is abrasive and we recommend using a “pea” size drop of toothpaste while brushing to prevent overly abrading the teeth.
Dental floss is an essential way to clean in-between teeth, and areas that brushing misses. Dental floss is a good way to remove plaque and stimulate the delicate periodontium on a regular basis. We recommend flossing two times per day or more. Any type of floss is recommended and flossing tools are also okay if they help the patient floss more often. The gingiva is composed of a keratinized tissue that responds well to stimulation, similar to palms of hands and soles of feet. We recommend flossing in a pattern that “hugs” the tooth, making sure to go under the gums as much as possible.
We recommend keeping your toothbrush, floss and toothpaste in the same area. This will help remind the patient to use the brush, paste and floss at the same event. Please keep in mind that brushing and flossing should be done sequentially and that flossing can be performed more often alone.