Dental hygiene treatment at Forest Dental is delivered by the dentist who will help to remove any hard-to-reach plaque and tartar from your teeth that may have built up over time.
Dental hygiene at our practice also functions preventatively to treat gum disease and bad breath. If you have a bridge, denture, orthodontic treatment or a dental implant you will have specific hygiene needs that the dentist will be able to assist you with.
It is recommended that you come in for regular hygiene appointments (ideally quarterly) to ensure your mouth stays clean and healthy.
Cleaning between the teeth is an important part of ensuring good oral hygiene. Careful brushing alone is not sufficient in preventing gum (periodontal) disease as the toothbrush bristles cannot penetrate all parts or sides of the teeth. Flossing should be done as it is effective in removing plaque from the areas where the toothbrush cannot reach and is also useful for removing food caught between the teeth. Flossing is particularly important where teeth overlap each other, where there is bridgework or if you are prone to gum disease.
Using dental floss requires time and an average level of manual dexterity and needs to be undertaken daily. It is best to receive individual instruction from a dental professional as flossing with a poor technique may result in more problems than it solves. The dental professional can also ensure that your flossing is effective and can give advice about difficult areas in the mouth.
Initially, it is wise to use waxed dental tape, as it is slightly thicker, glides between the teeth easily, and does not fray around rough edges of fillings. Ensure that a mirror is used to see what is happening. Only floss a few teeth for the first few days, gradually building up to incorporate the whole mouth over a couple of weeks.
Use a piece of floss about 18 inches long – there should be enough floss to ensure a firm grip on it with the fingers. It is recommended that a clean piece be used for each tooth Wind the floss around the middle fingers so that the first (index) finger is free to guide the floss. Hold the floss tightly between the thumbs and index fingers so that about an inch (no more) is free. Gradually ease the floss between the teeth moving the floss from the biting surface into the space between the teeth, using a slight backwards and forwards motion. When the floss is in the space between the teeth, move it carefully into the gum groove (margin) which is slightly detached from the tooth surface. This is the natural cuff of gum that surrounds the tooth (the gingival margin). Curve the floss around one tooth surface, in a C shape, and gently slide the floss back towards the biting surface and out of the contact between the teeth. One surface of one tooth has now been cleaned. Take a clean piece of floss, go back into the same space and clean the other surface with the same action. This now needs to be repeated with every tooth surface. It will take time and practice to become good at flossing. Persevere, as this is an effective method of cleaning between the teeth and should prevent gum (periodontal) disease.
There are various flossing aids available which may assist the process. A floss holder is a V-shaped piece of plastic into which the floss is wound. This acts as a substitute for your fingers so that the handle can be held and the floss slid into place. There are also floss picks which come packaged with floss attached to the floss holder.
For cleaning underneath bridges and around implants there is ‘superfloss’, which has a teased-out (fuzzy) section of floss and a built-in threader. When flossing around bridges, it is sometimes not possible to move the floss from the biting surface into the space between the teeth as the bridge metalwork is fused together, so the floss needs to be threaded underneath the bridgework. Using a similar action to flossing, ensure that the join between the tooth bridgework and gum is cleaned, as this is a particular area of plaque accumulation. The fuzzy part of superfloss is particularly good for cleaning around implants.
All recommended oral hygiene aids are available from Forest Dental.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that collects on all the surfaces of teeth, particularly in between them and on the surfaces close to the gums. This dental plaque is the cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
When sugar and sugary products are eaten or drunk, the bacteria that live in the plaque produce acids that dissolve the minerals in the teeth and create holes (cavities). These acids begin to dissolve tooth enamel within 20 minutes of eating. The holes are usually painless - until they grow quite large inside the tooth. Without treatment, the decayed holes could eventually result in a tooth abscess.
If the gums are receding or there is gum disease present, tooth decay can develop on the exposed roots of the teeth. The roots of teeth are made from a softer material than the tooth enamel [dentine] and so holes will develop more quickly on the roots. Root surfaces also accumulate lots of plaque.
The type of food and how often it is eaten are more important than the amount of sugar involved. Sticky foods are more harmful than non-sticky foods because they remain on the surface of the teeth for longer. Frequent snacks increase the time that the harmful acids are in contact with the surface of the tooth.
Sugary snacks and drinks should be avoided, particularly between meals. If snacks are taken, they should be foods such as fruit, toast and cheese rather than sweets, biscuits and cakes. If sweets, biscuits and chocolates are eaten, it should only be once a day and then the teeth should be brushed.
Plaque is also a contributing factor to gum disease. When it collects around the necks of teeth it causes an inflammatory reaction in the gum. The gum then swells and creates a gap (pocket) between the tooth and gum. This pocket is more difficult to clean effectively, so more plaque builds up in the area and the pocket becomes deeper. This is a continuing cycle that can lead to serious long-term problems.
These problems caused by plaque can be controlled by keeping the teeth and gums clean. This is best done by regularly brushing (twice a day for two minutes) using a toothpaste containing fluoride and flossing (once a day).
Dental plaque is quite difficult to see, but there are special tablets (disclosing tablets) available from a dentist. If chewed, they will colour the plaque to make it more visible.
The use of mouthwashes containing fluoride will provide extra protection against tooth and root decay.
Toothbrushing is carried out to remove the sticky bacteria that form a harmful film on the teeth (dental plaque). These bacteria cause gum disease which is the most common disease in the world. The bacteria also act on sticky sweet foods forming acid that causes tooth decay.
When buying a toothbrush choose a small-headed medium strength brush that has a comfortable handle to grip. It needs to be replaced about every three months.
There are many types available, some have timers, others are battery operated, and some are mains operated. Small-headed ones are better for small mouths. They are very efficient at cleaning if used correctly and are good for people who have a problem with dexterity. Electric brushes should be used following the manufacturer's instructions.
Place the toothbrush head where the tooth meets the gum so that the bristles are just in the cuff of gum around the tooth. Start at one side of the mouth and carefully brush round to the next side using small gentle back and forth strokes. Do not scrub hard, as this will damage the teeth and gums. Use this technique on the outer surfaces near the cheeks and on the inner, surfaces near the tongue and around the palate. Finish by brushing the chewing surfaces. Brushing while looking in the mirror will help to check that none of the teeth are missed. Brushing correctly should take about two minutes.
An alternative method is to first move the lower jaw until the teeth are in edge-to-edge contact and brush all the outside surfaces of the teeth and gums gently and thoroughly with a circular motion. Next open the mouth and do the same to the inside surfaces of the top teeth and the surfaces of the lower teeth next to the tongue. Finally brush all the biting surfaces and rinse the mouth out to clear away the debris.
There are many different brands of toothpaste in the shops and nearly all of them contain fluoride. Fluoride is very important because it strengthens the teeth against decay. There are also toothpastes that help with sensitive teeth when eating something hot or cold and others that work against the harmful bacteria. Only a pea size amount of paste is necessary as too much may cause a lot of foaming.
Although brushing removes most of the dental plaque there is usually some left between the teeth where the brush does not reach. It is very important to use another product to remove all the plaque. There are specially designed brushes for cleaning between the teeth that look like small bottle brushes. They come in different widths so that they fill the spaces between your teeth.
They should be pushed gently back and forth between the teeth next to the gum. They should never be forced through, as this will damage the teeth. There are also brushes that have a single tuft and these are useful to clean around crowded teeth and orthodontic appliances (braces).
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