How do I … ?
Brush and Floss to maintain good oral health?
Brushes and Floss
Like most people, you know that having a clean mouth is important. It makes you feel good about yourself. It gives you fresh breath and a nicer-looking smile. Since childhood, you’ve probably heard that brushing and flossing your teeth daily are necessary for good dental health. But like many people, you may not be sure why.
Brushing and flossing remove a thin sticky film of bacteria that grows on your teeth. This sticky film, called plaque, is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease. How can bacteria cause so many problems?
The plaque problem
Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugared foods, such as candy and cookies, are not the only culprits. Starches, such as bread, crackers, and cereal, also cause acids to form. If you snack often, you could be having acid attacks all day long. After many acid attacks, your teeth may decay.
Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, tender or bleed easily. After a while, gums may pull away from the teeth. Pockets form and fill with more bacteria and pus. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed. The teeth may become loose or have to be removed. In fact, gum disease is a main cause of tooth loss in adults.
One way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease is by eating a balanced diet and limiting the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.
Daily oral care
The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces. Brush your teeth twice a day, with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth, allowing you to reach all areas easily. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. When choosing any dental product, look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, an important symbol of a dental product’s safety and effectiveness.
Cleaning between the teeth with floss or interdental cleaners removes plaque from between the teeth, areas where the toothbrush can’t reach. It is essential in preventing gum disease.
By taking care of your teeth, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly, you can have healthy teeth and an attractive smile your entire life. Follow these tips to keep your teeth and mouth clean:
— Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
— Move the brush back and forth gently in short (toothwide) strokes.
— Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
— Use the “toe” of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
— Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
— Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers.
— Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
— Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
— When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
— Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions.
— Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.
— People who have difficulty handling dental floss may prefer to use another kind of interdental cleaner. These aids include special brushes, picks or sticks. If you use interdental cleaners, ask your dentist about how to use them properly, to avoid injuring your gums.
Cavities used to be a fact of life. But over the past few decades, tooth decay has been reduced dramatically. The key reason: fluoride. Research has shown that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and adults. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Unfortunately, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is like any other nutrient; it is safe and effective when used appropriately. This article will help you learn more about the important oral health benefits of fluoride.
— Fluoride: Nature’s Cavity Fighter
— Topical Fluorides
— Systemic Fluorides
— Fluoride Supplement Dosage Schedule – 1994
Fluoride: Nature’s Cavity Fighter
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources, even the oceans. The fluoride ion comes from the element fluorine. Fluorine, the 13th most abundant element in the earth’s crust, is never encountered in its free state in nature. It exists only in combination with other elements as a fluoride compound.
Fluoride is effective in preventing and reversing the early signs of dental caries (tooth decay). Researchers have shown that there are several ways through which fluoride achieves its decay-preventive effects. It makes the tooth structure stronger, so teeth are more resistant to acid attacks. Acid is formed when the bacteria in plaque break down sugars and carbohydrates from the diet. Repeated acid attacks break down the tooth, which causes cavities. Fluoride also acts to repair, or remineralize, areas in which acid attacks have already begun. The remineralization effect of fluoride is important because it reverses the early decay process as well as creating a tooth surface that is more resistant to decay.
Fluoride is obtained in two forms: topical and systemic. Topical fluorides strengthen teeth already present in the mouth making them more decay-resistant. Topical fluorides include toothpastes, mouth rinses and professionally applied fluoride therapies.
Systemic fluorides are those that are ingested into the body and become incorporated into forming tooth structures. Systemic fluorides can also give topical protection because fluoride is present in saliva, which continually bathes the teeth. Systemic fluorides include water fluoridation or dietary fluoride supplements in the form of tablets, drops or lozenges.
As a result of the widespread availability of these various sources of fluoride, the decay rates in both the U.S. and other countries have greatly diminished.
The proper mix is key
It is important to note that the effective prevention of dental decay requires that the proper mix of both forms of fluoride (topical and systemic) be made available to individuals. Your dentist can help you assess whether you are receiving adequate levels of fluoride for all family members from the two forms (topical and systemic).
One method of self-applied topical fluoride that is responsible for a significant drop in the level of cavities since 1960 is use of a fluoride-containing toothpaste. The American Dental Association recommends that everyone use a fluoride toothpaste displaying the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Other sources of self-applied fluoride are mouth rinses designed to be rinsed and spit out, either prescribed by your dentist or an over-the-counter variety. The ADA recommends the use of fluoride mouth rinses, but not for children under six years of age because they may swallow the rinse.
Professionally-applied fluorides are in the form of a gel, foam or rinse, and are applied by a dentist or dental hygienist during dental visits. These fluorides are more concentrated than the self-applied fluorides, and therefore are not needed as frequently. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength, tray-applied gels or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance. There are no ADA-accepted fluoride professional rinses for use in dental offices.
Systemic fluorides such as community water fluoridation and dietary fluoride supplements are effective in reducing tooth decay. These fluorides provide topical as well as systemic protection because fluoride is present in the saliva.
Community Water Fluoridation
Fluoride is present naturally in all water sources. Community water fluoridation, which has been around for over 50 years, is simply the process of adjusting the fluoride content of fluoride-deficient water to the recommended level for optimal dental health. That recommended level is 0.7 – 1.2 parts fluoride per million parts water. Water fluoridation has been proven to reduce decay in both children and adults. While water fluoridation is an extremely effective and inexpensive means of obtaining the fluoride necessary for optimal tooth decay prevention, not everyone lives in a community with a centralized, public or private water source that can be fluoridated. For those individuals, fluoride is available in other forms.
Dietary Fluoride Supplements
Dietary fluoride supplements (tablets, drops or lozenges) are available only by prescription and are intended for use by children ages six months to 16 years living in nonfluoridated areas. Your dentist or physician can prescribe the correct dosage. It is based on the natural fluoride concentration of the child’s drinking water and the age of the child. For optimum benefits, use of dietary fluoride supplements should begin when a child is six months old and be continued daily until the child is 16 years old. The need for taking dietary fluoride supplements over an extended period of time makes dietary fluoride supplements less cost-effective than water fluoridation; therefore, dietary fluoride supplements are considerably less practical as a wide-spread alternative to water fluoridation as a public health measure. Fluoride supplements are recommended only for children living in non-fluoridated areas.
It is important to note that fluoridated water may be consumed from sources other than the home water supply, such as the workplace, school and/or day care, bottled water, filtered water and from processed beverages and foods prepared with fluoridated water. For this reason, dietary fluoride supplements should be prescribed by carefully following the recommended dosage schedule. Dietary fluoride supplements are not recommended for children residing in a fluoridated community.
No matter how you get the fluoride you need—whether it be through your drinking water, supplements, toothpaste, mouth rinse or professionally applied fluoride—you can be confident that fluoride is silently at work fighting decay. Safe, convenient, effective…however you describe it, fluoride fits naturally into any dental care program. For more information about the oral health benefits of fluoride, just ask your dentist.
Fluoride Supplement Dosage Schedule – 1994
Approved by the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
Important Considerations When Using Dosage Schedule:
— If fluoride level is unknown, drinking water should be tested for fluoride content before supplements are prescribed. For testing of fluoride content, contact the local or state health department.
— All sources of fluoride should be evaluated with a thorough fluoride history.
— Patient exposure to multiple water sources can make proper prescribing complex.
— Ingestion of higher than recommended levels of fluoride by children has been associated with an increase in mild dental fluorosis in developing, unerupted teeth.
— Fluoride supplements require long-term compliance on a daily basis.
Why do I have to go for dental checkups if I have dentures?
Dental exams are still necessary because your mouth is continually changing. Dentures that fit when they were new may no longer fit, also dentures can wear out and may no longer function properly. Your dentist will check your gum ridges and the condition and fit of your dentures. Your dentist also will check for signs of oral cancer. Your dentist may also be able to detect certain medical disorders