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Oral Hygiene

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Periodontitis is caused by bacteria that collect underneath the gums. It is CRITICAL that you remove this plaque to prevent re-occurrence of disease. The key to long-term success is optimal at home oral hygiene and regular periodontal maintenance appointments. No matter how successful your periodontal treatment has been, without adequate follow-up the disease with recur. It is up to you to take responsibility for your own health.

This video provides a good overview of the basics of proper brushing and flossing techniques

Brushing and flossing are the two keys to achieving optimal oral hygiene. It is recommended that your brush your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day and floss daily. Although most people do brush their teeth, few do it correctly. The toothbrush should be positioned at a 45 degree angle to the tooth and moved in a small circular motion, allowing the bristles to slide into the cuff of the gum tissue and massage the gums. A scrubbing, “back and forth” motion is NOT recommended, as it may cause gum recession.

To remove the plaque and debris from your gum line, place the brush at a 45 degree angle and create a small, circular motion followed by a gentle sweeping motion away from the gum line. You should be brushing your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day. A good tip to make sure you are brushing all of your teeth is to spend 30 seconds on each fourth of your mouth. For example, brush your upper right teeth on all surfaces for 30 seconds, then switch to the upper left section, and so on.

Electric brushes have been shown to be more efficient than manual brushes at removing dental bacteria due to their ease of use. However, they must be used properly and do NOT replace the need for dental floss.

As an alternative to regular brushing, your dental professional may recommend an electric toothbrush. This power brush operates in a rotary fashion to help clean inner, outer, and biting surfaces of your teeth. Additionally, your dental professional may recommend an electric toothbrush if you have recession to aid you in reducing the force placed on your gums while brushing.

There are several places in your mouth that a toothbrush cannot easily reach. However, if you are like most people, flossing is more difficult and is often not performed often enough. This is a problem as typically, periodontitis begins between the teeth in areas that a toothbrush cannot reach. Mouthwashes do NOT replace the need for flossing. Please see the videos below for tips on how to improve your at home care and remember, flossing and cleaning BETWEEN your teeth is key on the road to healthy gums. While good flossing technique takes practice, once mastered, it should take you only 2 to 3 minutes a day.

Flossing is easy. First, take a piece of dental floss, roughly 18 inches. Wrap it around your index fingers leaving 2 to 4 inches between your hands. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers and gentle slide it between teeth. First, slightly move the floss up and down, gliding along the side of each tooth. Next, curve the floss around the base of each tooth in a “c-shape,” making sure you dip beneath the gum line. To avoid traumatizing your gums, never force the floss or move it roughly. As your move from tooth to tooth, continue to use clean sections of floss. After you are finished, rinse with water or mouthwash to clear any debris loosened by the floss.

This video demonstrates the “c-shaped” motion of curving the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you dip beneath the gum line. To avoid traumatizing your gums, never force the floss or move it roughly.

There are several other aids available to help you clean between your teeth in places a toothbrush typically cannot reach. These include small brushes that fit in between your teeth (proxy brushes) and floss aids.

In addition to brushing and flossing, your dental professional may recommend the use of an inter-dental cleaning aid called a proxy brush. Place the proxy brush between the teeth gently using an in and out motion. Proxy brushes come in different sizes so it is important that you select the right size brush. Your dental professional will go over this with you but essentially, the right size brush is one the fits easily between your teeth and doesn’t pinch or traumatize the gum tissues.
In addition to brushing and flossing, your dental professional may recommend the use of a floss aid. Oftentimes, flossing hard to reach areas can pose a challenge. Place the floss aid below the contacts of the teeth, utilizing an up and down motion to remove the bacteria from underneath the gum line.