How to Brush your Teeth
While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.
When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.
To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth.
Next you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth, using short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, begin to floss.
How to Floss your Teeth
Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember it takes time and practice.
Start with a piece of waxed tape or woven floss about 18″ long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand.
To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to place. Bring the floss to the gum line then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.
To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefinger of both hands. Do not forget the backside of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.
When you are done, rinse with Listerine for 30 seconds. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.
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 plaque free, the sensitivity will remain. 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 so many products on the market it can become confusing and choosing between all the products can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients. Please ask Dr. Bye and team to help you select products that are best for you.
Automatic and “high-tech” electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of the patients. We see excellent results with electric toothbrushes such as the Sonicare. Oral irrigators are about as effective as rinsing, so you still need to use your floss and toothbrush.
There are also tiny brushes (proxabrushes) that clean between your teeth.
Prescription fluoride toothpastes (Fluoridex) and mouth rinses (Periomed) if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing can reduce tooth decay as much as 40%. These rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. However, tartar control toothpaste is effective in reducing the amount of calculus buildup above the gum, but is not helping in removing existing deposits above or below the gum line.
Listerine is a clinically proven mouth rinse shown to help with gingivitis, and plaque. Any flavor is effective.
Dr. Bye and team are excellent resources to help you select the products that are best for you.
Professional Cleaning of your Teeth
Daily brushing and flossing will keep bacterial plaque and calculus to a minimum above the gum line; however, your periodontal maintenance performed by a registered dental hygienist will remove calculus in areas your toothbrush and floss have missed. Dr. Bye and your family dentist are an important part of your long-term program to prevent and/or treat gum disease to help you keep your teeth.