Oral Hygiene

How to Brush

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 some 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. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.

Next you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth. To do this, use 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, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.

If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office.

How To Help Stop and Prevent Periodontal Recession

While many people have a stable gum line with tissue that is firm and of good thickness, many people have tissues that are more susceptible to periodontal (gum) recession. Often abrasion from tooth brushing contributes to the breakdown of gum tissue and loss of bone that supports the teeth. Correct home care techniques are vital, particularly if procedures for correction of recession are to have long term success.

Despite best intentions, “scrubbing” teeth can be damaging to periodontal tissues. However, it is common for patients to unknowingly brush too aggressively. Patients report they brush until the teeth feel clean or the gums feel irritated or stimulated. The most important step in correcting this destructive habit is to train the brain to be satisfied with less irritation. Here are some hints to help prevent periodontal recession:

  • Whether you use a manual or power tooth brush, hold the brush with your fingertips only. No powerful fist locking “death grip”! 
  • Use a small amount of toothpaste. See the picture above? That’s way too much toothpaste! Use just a pearl-sized “dab” of toothpaste. Many toothpastes are very abrasive. Just make sure it’s a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Use short strokes. Avoid the long scrubbing strokes that saw at the teeth. When roots become exposed, ledges can be cut into these softer parts of teeth. If you use a power brush, let the brush do the movement. Don’t move a power brush like a manual brush. Instead of getting an added benefit, you develop a greater risk of periodontal recession.
  • Don’t brush too often. For most patients, brushing twice a day is adequate.  If you wish to remove food debris after meals, a light “once-over” brushing is fine. 
  • Use an illuminated magnifying cosmetic mirror for practice. Many people “brush by Braille” with eyes closed. Since your teeth are oral gems, clean them as the precious jewels they are! You’ll do a much better job cleaning your teeth with eyes open and looking as you’re cleaning.

How to Floss

Why Do We Feel Flossing is Important?

We believe in the science of dentistry. This science has developed the process of evaluation call Evidence Based Dentistry (EBD). EBD is a rich mixture of theory, reason, experimentation, and experience. In dentistry, the role of experience makes up for most gaps in experimentation. However, the knowledge gained from experience must be consistent with concepts and known facts. In the case of flossing, there has been little published over the years on its effectiveness. In part, this is due to the greater volume of data regarding plaque control or total oral hygiene that includes cleaning between the teeth. As such, oral hygiene is shown to be particularly effective in prevention of periodontal inflammation (gum inflammation). The presence of tooth-threatening bacterial strains above and below the gum line encircling the teeth is well established as is their relationship to destruction of periodontal tissues in susceptible patients. In particular, a predominant number of periodontal lesions that include tooth threatening bone loss occur in between the teeth, which are the target zones for flossing.  Consequently, we choose to act to protect our patients based on the sound conclusions of EBD which includes the combined experience of Drs. Uemura and Simonds that extends back to the 1970’s. This view is that every tooth has five sides. There is the top chewing surface, the two sides that face either cheek or tongue and the two sides that face neighboring teeth. For maximum protection to reduce the risk of bacterially mediated diseases (periodontal disease and dental caries [decay]) and to assure the best possible outcome of periodontal therapy, flossing is a highly critical part of daily home care.

Flossing Technique

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 floss (waxed is easier) 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 like a squeegee. 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 back side of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.

When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. 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. If the mouth is kept clean, this sensation should not last long. However, if the mouth is not kept clean, , the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive, consult with Drs. Uemura and Simonds. A medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth may be recommended.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

There are so many products on the market that choosing the right one can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for selecting dental care products that will work for most patients:

  • Automatic and “high-tech” electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of users. Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but will not remove plaque. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator. We see excellent results with the electric toothbrushes like those offered by SoniCare and Oral B Braun
  • Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle that is used to massage the gums after brushing. There are also tiny brushes (interproximal toothbrushes) that clean between your teeth. If these are used improperly you could injure the gums, so be sure to discuss proper use with Drs. Uemura and Simonds .
  • If used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40 percent. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age.
  • Tartar control toothpastes will reduce tartar above the gum line, but because gum disease starts below the gum line, these products have not been proven to reduce the early stage of gum disease.
  • Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help control signs of early gum disease. Use these in conjunction with brushing and flossing.

Drs. Uemura and Simonds are the best people to help you select the right products that are best for you.