Today's hectic pace often leaves little time for the daily oral health care routine needed to prevent childhood cavities as well as cavities and periodontal disease in adults. Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults with an estimated 75% of Americans having some form of the disease. At age two or three, you can begin to teach your child proper brushing techniques. But you will need to follow up with brushing and gentle flossing until age eight, when the child has the dexterity to do it alone. Most children and adults can stay cavity-free through frequent exposure to small amounts of fluoride. This is available by drinking fluoridated water and using fluoride toothpaste twice daily. The hygienist at Stewart Family Dentistry will explain proper brushing and flossing. It is your responsibility to clean your teeth and gums regularly to prevent expensive or painful conditions down the road.
You should use a toothbrush with soft, round-ended, and nylon bristles that will not scratch teeth or damage gums. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months to avoid transferring flu viruses, herpes virus that causes cold sores or bacteria that can cause periodontal infection.
Place the bristles along the gumline at a 45-degree angle. The bristles should contact both your teeth and gums.
Gently brush the outer surfaces of two to three teeth at a time using a back and forth rolling motion.
Tilt the brush vertically behind your front teeth. Make several up and down strokes using the front half of the brush.
Place the brush against the biting surface of your teeth and use a gentle back and forth scrubbing motion. Brush your tongue from back to front to remove odor-causing bacteria.
Flossing is an essential part of the tooth-cleaning process because it removes plaque from between teeth and at the gumline, where periodontal disease often begins. If you find flossing awkward or difficult, ask the hygienist at Stewart Family Dentistry about the various dental floss holders that are available.
Wind 18" of floss around the middle fingers of each hand. Pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers, leaving a 1" to 2" length in between.
Contour the floss around the side of the tooth using a gentle zigzag motion. Slide the floss up and down against each tooth surface and under the gumline.
Use your thumbs to direct the floss between the upper teeth.
Keep the 1" to 2" length of floss between your fingers taut and use your fingers to guide the floss between the lower teeth.