Dental health can be maintained in the majority of instances with good oral hygiene practices and diet management

Oral hygiene

There are two important factors to consider with tooth cleaning.

  1. Bleeding gums are almost always a sign that there are bacteria present. Therefore, when your gums bleed in a certain spot, or generally, it is not a signal to avoid the area, but just the opposite. This is your body’s way of telling you that there are persistent bacteria present and that they are causing continual inflammation of your gums. Get rid of the bacteria and the bleeding will disappear. If it doesn’t’ contact us as there are probably other factors contributing to the problem
  2. Bacteria on teeth are held in a tacky, slimy layer called plaque. Therefore, to get it off, you need to use some force or positive pressure from your brush or floss. If you don’t, you will never removed it. As long as you do not use a horizontal scrubbing motion, you will not do damage to your teeth or gums.

Brushing

Teeth should be brushed twice daily. The most important factor in this process is the brush and not so much the toothpaste. Always opt for a soft bristle brush and aim for a brush head that is smaller and simple in design. There are two techniques in brushing, the Bass technique (ie flick away from the gum) or a small circular motion with the brush angles at about 45 degrees to the gum-line. Either technique will be effective, but it is important to:

  • keep positive pressure on the tooth from the brush,
  • keep movements small (ie small circles)
  • avoid horizontal (sideways) motion (especially if you are using the circular technique)

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Note that with brushing, keep the toothpaste used to a manageable amount, for an adult about the size of a large pea, a child about the size of a small pea.
Electric toothbrushes are excellent, especially in people where there is diminished dexterity (eg, young children, arthritis sufferers).
Interdental cleaning. Cleaning between your teeth is essential because this is where most dental disease (whether it be tooth decay or periodontal “gum”) disease occurs. There are two techniques to clean between your teeth: dental floss or interdental brushes.

Dental Floss

15You can floss your teeth by wrapping the floss around your fingers or using floss holders. Either technique is fine. If are wrapping the floss around your fingers, you want to wrap it around your middle finger and use your thumb and forefinger to control it.

16Always keep one finger on the inside of your mouth and one on the outside. And keep the length of floss between your fingers to the absolute minimum to allow good control.

Interdental brushes: These are great where the spaces between your teeth are quite large, or where is you are finding is difficult to floss.

Diet

There are a number of things to consider with diet.

  1. Sugar intake. In a nutshell, it’s all about the frequency, not the amount of sugar you ingest. So it’s all about the snacks and liquid refreshments you take in during the day. You need to minimize the frequency of sugar exposure, so keep sugars (whether that be in the form food or drinks) to a minimum.
  2. Hydration. The bacteria in our mouth produce acids. These acids are what cause tooth decay. Our saliva contains minerals which buffer these acids bringing the oral environment to a more neutral ph range. When you are dehydrated, you will have less saliva and therefore its protective effect in buffering the bacterial acids will be diminished, making you more prone to dental decay.
    1. Lack of hydration can have a number of causes apart from inadequate water intake such as:
      1. Excessive caffeine consumption (which is has a diuretic effect) in the form of tea and coffee.
      2. Long periods of heated or air conditioned environments.
      3. Medications which have the effect of reducing your salivary (many hypertension and antidepressant medications) flow or have a diuretic effect.
      4. iv. Long periods in hot outdoor environments.
  3. Acids. Acid exposure has two effects on teeth. It can lead to erosion of the enamel and also lead to a higher pre-disposition to dental decay by enhancing the decay-producing effect of dental plaque acids.
    1. Beverages. Fizzy and sports drinks contain acids, whether they be carbonic , phosphoric or others (from electrolytes in sports drinks). Also, some alcohlolic drinks, such as wine can be acidic
    2. Reflux. If you suffer from gastric reflux, stomach acids enter your mouth increasing the acidity of the environment.
    3. Foods. Many stick and sugary foods are also highly acidic.