Regular dental check ups are essential for maintaining excellent oral hygiene and diagnosing potential problems, but they are not a “fix-all” solution. Thorough oral homecare routines should be practiced by you on a daily basis to avoid future dental problems.
Periodontal disease (also called gum disease, pyorrhea, or periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss in the developed world, and is completely preventable in the vast majority of cases. Professional cleanings two or more times a year combined with daily self-cleaning can remove a high percentage of disease-causing bacteria and plaque. In addition, teeth that are well cared for make for a sparkling white smile.
There are numerous types of oral hygiene aids on the supermarket shelves, and it can be difficult to determine which will provide you with the best benefit to your teeth.
Here are some of the most common oral hygiene aids for homecare:
There are a great many toothbrush types available. Electric toothbrushes are generally recommended by dentists because electric brushes are much more effective than manual brushes. The vibrating or rotary motion helps to easily dislodge plaque and remove food particles from around the gums and teeth. The same results can be obtained using a manual brush, but much more effort is needed to do so.
Manual toothbrushes should be replaced every three months because worn bristles become ineffective over time. Soft bristle toothbrushes are far less damaging to gum tissue than the medium and hard bristle varieties. In addition, an appropriate sized ADA approved toothbrush should be chosen to allow proper cleaning to all the teeth. Teeth should ideally be brushed after each meal, or minimally twice each day.
Dental floss is the most common interdental and subgingival (below the gum) cleaner and comes in a variety of types and flavors. The floss itself is made from either thin nylon filaments or polyethylene ribbons, and can help remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth and .below the gum. But be cautious, overly vigorous flossing especially with a floss holder can cause soft tissue damage and bleeding, so great care should be taken. Floss should normally be used twice daily after brushing.
For many patients especially those who have fixed bridges or implant restorations Dr. Hutton recommends interdental brushes. These tiny brushes are gentle on the gums and very effective in cleaning the contours of teeth in between the connected bridge parts where floss cannot reach. Interdental brushes come in various shapes and sizes and should be available at your local pharmacy.
Oral irrigators, like Water Jets and Waterpiks have been created to clean debris from below the gum line. . Overall, these devices have proven effective in lowering the risk of gum disease but should not be used instead of brushing and flossing. Professional cleanings are still recommended at least twice annually to remove deeper debris.
There are two basic types of mouth rinse available: cosmetic rinses which are sold over the counter and temporarily suppress bad breath, and therapeutic rinses which may or may not require a prescription. Studies have questioned the effectiveness of cosmetic rinses against plaque. Therapeutic rinses however, are regulated by the FDA and contain active ingredients that can help reduce bad breath, plaque, and cavities. Mouth rinses should generally be used after brushing and before retiring for the night. Some have the added advantage of containing fluoride and therefore can help with tooth decay.
Rubber Tip Stimulators
The rubber tip stimulator is an excellent tool for removing plaque from around the gum line and also for stimulating blood flow to the gums. One of the office professionals will instruct you in the proper use and care of the rubber tip stimulator.
If you have any questions about oral hygiene aids, please contact our practice.