How to Brush
Dr. Yamaoka suggests positioning the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet to brush the outside surfaces of your teeth. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes. Use gentle pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth but not so that you feel any discomfort. When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions to clean the inside of the 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.
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. When finished, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.
Proper brushing technique with both electric and manual toothbrushes will be reviewed during your appointment. If you have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office.
How to Floss
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. Start with a piece of floss (waxed is easier) about 18″ long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around your second finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the second 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 into 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. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. You will start to hear a “squeaking” sound and then you will know that the surface is clean. 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. The proper technique will also be reviewed during your treatment visits.
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 clean, then the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive, consult with Dr. Yamaoka and 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 a challenge. Here are some suggestions for selecting dental care products that will work for most patients:
- Electric 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. They are helpful but not essential. We see excellent results with the Braun Oral B and Sonicare electric toothbrushes
- Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle that is used to massage the gums after brushing. There are also tiny brushes (proxy brush, sulca brush) that clean between your teeth.
- Used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40%. Please note that these rinses are not recommended for children under the age of 6.
- Tartar control toothpastes will reduce tartar above the gum line, however, as 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 Canadian Dental Association and used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, contain agents that may help control signs of early gum disease. Dr. Yamaoka and his experienced Dental Hygiene staff will help you select the appropriate products that are best for you.