Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth throughout the day. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily.
If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office at 785-841-5590.
We recommend using a soft to medium tooth brush. Position the brush at a 45 degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth. When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort or the bristles on the brush are damaged.
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. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue. Next you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth by using 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. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.
Periodontal disease usually starts 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. The following instructions will help you, but remember it takes time and practice.
Start with a piece of floss about 18” long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand.
To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to place, this can damage the gum tissue. Bring the floss to the gum line then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth, hugging it tightly. 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 teeth that need to be cleaned in each space. 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, twist the floss from one finger to the other to get a fresh section. To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefingers 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 that you have loosened. Do not be alarmed if at first your gums bleed or are a little sore. This means that your gums are irritated from the plague that has been setting along the edge. As you floss daily and remove the plaque your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum.
Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long, but only if the mouth is kept clean. If the mouth is not kept clean the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive consult with your doctor. They may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.
There are so many products on the market it can become confusing and difficult to choose between them all. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.
Automatic and "high-tech" electronic toothbrushes
(Sonicare) are safe and effective for the majority of patients. Oral irrigators (Waterpik) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but will not remove plaque. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator. We see excellent results when electric toothbrushes, water irrigators and flossing techniques are used on a daily basis.
Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle; this is used to massage the gums after brushing. There are also tiny brushes (proxy brush) that clean between your teeth. If these are used improperly you could injure the gums, so discuss proper use with our dental team.
Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses, if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, can reduce tooth decay as much as 40%. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. Tartar control toothpastes will reduce tartar above the gum line, but gum disease starts below the gum line so these products have not been proven to reduce the early stage of gum disease. Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help control early gum disease. Use these in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus (tarter) to a minimum, but a professional cleaning will remove calculus in places your toothbrush and floss cannot reach. Your bi annual visits to our office are the most important part of your program to prevent gum disease. Keeping your teeth for a lifetime is our main goal. Regular visits to see our hygienist is the most effective tool in meeting this goal!
Good nutrition plays a large role in your dental health. Brushing and flossing help to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong however a balanced diet will help to boost your body’s immune system, leaving you less vulnerable to oral disease.
How often and what you eat has been found to affect your dental health. Eating starchy foods such as crackers, bread, cookies and candy give the bacteria in your mouth something to feed on, they then produce acids, which attack your teeth for up to 20 minutes or more. Also foods that stick to your teeth or are slow to dissolve give the acids more time to work on destroying your tooth enamel.
Sticky/slow to dissolve foods:
Sticky and starchy foods create less acid when eaten as part of a meal. Saliva production increases at mealtime, rinsing away food particles and neutralizing harmful acids.
Foods such as nuts, cheese, onions, and some teas have been shown to slow growth of decay- causing bacteria in the mouth.