- Why brush, floss, and have our teeth cleaned professionally? To prevent cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. See below for more information.
- What's the importance? We can lose our teeth to cavities and periodontal disease. Tooth infections can cause pain and swelling, even spread to other parts of our body and become life threatening. Periodontal disease has been linked with systemic problems such as heart disease and preterm low birth weight.
- What is my hygienist or dentist doing when they are reading out those numbers, "3, 3, 3...3, 2, 2..."? They are taking measurements that help them determine bone loss (stage of periodontal disease).
The ADA seal of acceptance can help when we are unsure of which products to buy. Click on the image for more information.
It is important to note that some companies do not submit certain products to the ADA for Acceptance. In some cases, products sell well enough that companies feel submittal for the seal is not necessary. Also, the ADA has no Acceptance for certain product categories (for example, electric toothbrushes).
Technique: Small circles with the toothbrush bristles angled toward your gum line (where your teeth and gums meet).
What toothbrush is best? The one that you will use! Otherwise soft bristles are recommended. The electric/mechanical brushes are great as well.
Gently wiggle the floss between your teeth and hug your teeth! Floss holders or floss swords may help. Dr. Blake prefers floss tape but any floss will do.
Don't forget about our tongue!
Gently brush your tongue. Tongue scrapers are also available.
A preventive approach: we can't clean the deep grooves of our teeth so this is where many cavities begin. Dentists seal these grooves by smoothening them and placing a material in the grooves to prevent bacteria from inhabiting these deep areas. Sealants do not last forever and need to be maintained and replaced. As a result, your dentist may opt to perform a preventive resin restoration or even a small tooth colored filling depending how deep the tooth grooves are.
Like an old jar or inside of a pipe exposed to a wet environment, a film forms over our teeth, fillings, even dentures. If this film is removed, it will reform immediately due to our saliva and fluids from our gums.
Bacteria attach to this film forming plaque. This may occur in as little as two hours. The bacteria will feed on the sugars we eat and produce acid as a byproduct. This acid marks the beginning of a cavity. The goal of brushing and flossing is to remove plaque, especially before the bacteria develop.
The bacteria develop in a few ways: They will form well organized communities - a biofilm, that protects them from removal, antibiotics, and our immune system. Bacterial species will shift to the more dangerous anaerobic gram negative bacteria. These bacteria move down below our gum line, and their metabolism continues to release acids (reduces the pH). Now we not only have cavities, but gingivitis as well.
Like an old pipe that hasn't been cleaned, over time the slimy film of plaque will mineralize. This is called calculus and may form in as little as 1 day of plaque formation. The calculus shelters the plaque from removal as it moves more and more below our gum line. Now we have periodontal disease. Calculus cannot be removed by brushing or flossing. Do not brush or floss harder! This will just cause floss cuts, gum loss (gum recession), and tooth abrasion. Only our dentist can remove calculus with ultrasonic or hand scalers.