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Patient Education

 
 
 

How to Brush Your Teeth

 
The first step is to choose a good toothbrush. You always want to use a soft brush with a small head. A soft brush is hard enough to remove plaque, yet gentle enough not to damage your teeth or gums.
 
The next issue is to select good toothpaste. In general, any toothpaste that contains Fluoride will do the job, unless you have special needs that are determined by your dentist.
 
The first rule of brushing is to start from a specific location and work your way to the opposite side, continuing all the way through the whole mouth so that you end where you started. This way you won't miss any area. Usually a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is enough. An adequate brushing should at least take 2 minutes and preferably around 4 minutes.
 
There are a variety of techniques for brushing your teeth, but one of the most popular ones is described here:
 
Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle toward the teeth and gums. Gently press against the gums so the tips of the bristles go in between the gum and the teeth. Then apply a few lateral strokes and roll down the brush to sweep the plaque away from the teeth and the gum. Repeat this motion 6 to 10 times and move on to the next area of 2 to 3 teeth. If your mouth is full of foam, spit out and continue brushing. Your brushing is completed when you have brushed all the surfaces of your teeth, not when your mouth is full! On chewing surfaces, short strokes work best to get the plaque out of the grooves and pits. When brushing the back side of your front teeth, hold your brush vertically to be able to reach the teeth better.
 
As far as frequency of brushing is concerned, ideally you want to brush your teeth after each meal. But if you can’t, brush at least twice a day—after breakfast and before going to bed.
 
For more information, tips and helpful tools about brushing and kids' oral health, visit 2MIN2X.org!
 
 

How to Floss Your Teeth

 
The surfaces that are between teeth are not accessible to brush; therefore, the best way to clean them is by flossing. The frequency of flossing is like brushing and ideally after each meal, though one time a day (before going to bed) is the minimum necessary.
 
To start, cut a piece of dental floss (approximately 2 feet). Wrap both sides of the floss around your middle fingers. Using your index and thumb, glide the floss in between all your teeth one by one. When flossing, make sure you are not cutting your gums. The goal is to clean the teeth surfaces, not the gums. In the space in between teeth, press the floss against each side of the tooth (hug the tooth) and gently move it back and forth and up and down. Then move to the opposite surface of the adjacent tooth.
 

Electric Brush versus Manual Brushes

 
There have been multiple studies comparing the effectiveness of manual brushes as opposed to electric brushes.
 
Although not all electric brushes are the same, these studies conclude that in general electric brushes are more efficient in controlling plaque than manual brushes. Theoretically, you can do a very good brushing with a regular hand brush, but the movements of an electric brush make the task easier and more effective.
 
Also, some electric brushes (Sonicare) produce sonic vibrations that are difficult to mimic with a hand brush! Other electric brushes like Oral-B and Rotadent have small heads that help you access hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. This aspect is more important when you are talking about someone with orthodontic braces or a history of gum disease.
 

Dental Health and Your Diet

 
Sugar is the main cause of dental decay when there are bacteria present. More significant than the amount of sugar you eat is the frequency of consumption.
 
Probably the worst thing you can do to your teeth is to drink a soda and have a sip every few minutes over a long period of time; the same is true for snacking. It is recommended that if you want to have a snack or soda or juice it is better to have it after food, as dessert, or have it in one sitting. Eating or drinking something sweet over an extended period of time creates a constant supply of sugar for bacteria that causes tooth decay!
 
It is important to be aware of all the sources of sugar that are out there. It is not just everything that is sweet, but anything that can turn to sugar like pieces of bread. Cutting down your sugar intake is good for cavity prevention, as well as your general health.
 
But what about when you have to have sugar? The best way to avoid cavities is to prevent the sugar from staying next to your teeth. Brushing after eating sugar, rinsing your mouth with Fluoride mouth wash, or chewing sugarless gum can help. However, nothing has the effect of avoiding sugar!
 
Is there any kind of food that prevents tooth decay? Well, not really. Some people believed that chewing foods like apples and carrots may have some plaque removal effect, but they still contain some sugar so any advantage is not clear.
 
Another group of food that causes significant damage to teeth structure is acidic foods. If in frequent contact with teeth, things like lime, lemon, and grapefruit can cause serious irreversible damage (erosion) to your teeth.
 

Fluoride and Decay Prevention

 
Many years ago scientists started to notice that children who were born and raised in areas with natural fluoride in drinking water had fewer cavities than children in other areas. Fluoride absorbed by your body when teeth were forming (during mother’s pregnancy to early childhood) integrates into the structure of enamel and makes it stronger.
 
After teeth eruption, fluoride found in your toothpaste, mouthwash, or in what your dentist places on your teeth still has a positive effect on your teeth. It strengthens the enamel and reduces the chance of tooth decay.
 
If you have children and live in an area that has no fluoride in its drinking water, you should consult your dentist and physician about fluoride tablets that are available for children.

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Why Primary Teeth Are Important

 
Many parents ask why baby teeth are so important to their child’s health when they fall out on their own eventually. Primary teeth stay in place until a permanent tooth underneath erupts, pushing it out and taking it’s place. These teeth are important to the natural development and growth of what will become your child’s permanent smile. Emphasizing healthy oral habits at an early age also promote good nutrition and encourage a positive self-image.
 
In some instances, when a child loses baby teeth too soon, a space maintainer may be recommended to prevent space loss and future dental damage. Speak to Dr. Warren to find out if this is an option for your child. Call or schedule an appointment today.
 

Tooth Eruption

 
Even though they aren’t visible, children’s primary teeth begin forming before they are even born. At around the four month mark the primary teeth begin pushing through the gums. By the age of three, all 20 primary teeth have erupted.
 
Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including wisdom teeth.
 
Even before your baby’s first tooth erupts you can use a warm clean washcloth to gently swab the gums clean after every meal. When the first tooth erupts you can gently brush with a soft toothbrush to get them used to having something in their mouths. Do not use toothpaste until your child is at least 2 years old. At around age two you can begin applying a pea-sized amount. Emphasizing healthy dental habits at an early age contributes to better oral health in the future.
 

Protecting Your Child’s Teeth During Sporting Events

 
sports mouth guardsMouth protectors are soft plastic appliances that shape themselves to the upper teeth and are important sports equipment. Not only do they protect the teeth but they also protect the lips, cheeks, and tongue and can protect your child from serious head injuries such as concussions and jaw fractures.
 
If your child is involved in a physical activity in which their head is in contact with other players or equipment then consider getting a mouth guard for your child today. There are various types of appliances available. Call our office for more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Warren to find out what type of mouth guard is best for your child.
 

Tongue Piercing

 
Body piercing has become a popular form of body modification in today’s society. Tongue piercings are one particular procedure with high risks. Despite their popularity, it is important to know the associated risk factors with the piercing process.
 
There are many health risks involved with oral piercings some including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, receding gums or scar tissue. Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria that can easily promote infection in an oral piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway, can affect your speech and can even be a danger if swallowed.
 
Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and damage to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve is cut by the piercing needle. Even without complications, healing takes four to six weeks.
 
Take the advice of the American Dental Association and just avoid oral piercings.