General and Cosmetic Dentistry
4600 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton FL 34209
941-746-5033

Your Dental Health

Why is oral hygiene so important?


Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum (periodontal) disease than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily and regular hygiene maintenance visits at your dental office.

Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque (biofilm). Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease. Your dental hygienist will remove the plaque and/or calculus at your hygiene maintenance visits.

Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus to a minimum, but a professional hygiene maintenance visit will remove calculus in places your toothbrush and floss have missed. Your visit to our office is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease. Keep your teeth for your lifetime.

Brushing


While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, 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. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort. Brush towards the biting surface to sweep off the plaque you have dislodged with the circular motion.

When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back 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. 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.

If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office.

Flossing


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. The following instructions will help you, but remember it takes time and practice.

Start with a piece of floss (waxed is easier) 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.

Using your thumb and forefinger, gently slide the floss between your teeth. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to 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. 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. Do not forget the backside 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.

Periodontal Maintenance


Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums, which gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. There are numerous disease entities requiring different treatment approaches. Dental plaque (biofilm) is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Daily brushing and flossing will prevent most periodontal conditions.

Periodontal Disease


Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins or poisons that irritate the gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss.

Preventing Gum Disease


The best way to prevent gum disease is effective daily brushing and flossing as well as regular professional examination. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.

Oral Hygiene Products


There are so many products on the market it can become confusing and choosing between all the products can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.

We recommend sonic toothbrushes that are safe and effective for the majority of the patients. We see excellent results with the sonic toothbrushes: Sonic Complete by Oral B and Sonicare by Philips. Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth but you still need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator.

A rubber tip may be used to massage the gums after brushing. There are also tiny brushes (interproximal toothbrushes) that clean between your teeth. If these are used improperly you could injure the gums, so discuss proper use with your doctor.

Fluoride toothpastes (ex: Fluoridex, Prevident 5000) and fluoride rinses (ex: CariFree, ACT, PhosFluor) 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 (ex: Listerine), approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help bring early gum disease under control. Use these in conjunction with brushing and flossing.

Nutrition


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 have been found to affect your dental health. Eating starchy foods such as crackers, bread, cookies and candy causes the bacteria in your mouth to feed on them, 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.

Starchy Foods
  • Crackers
  • Breads
  • Cookies
  • Candies
Sticky/Slow to Dissolve Foods
  • Granola Bars
  • Chewy Fruit Snacks
  • Dried Fruit
  • Potato Chips
  • Hard Candy
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.

Drinks That Affect Teeth


Drinks have emerged as one of the most significant sources of acid.

Drinks such as regular soda, diet soda, sports drinks, canned iced tea and lemonades can lead to extensive tooth decay and enamel destruction because of the low pH or acidity of the drinks.

Enamel is the hardest substance in the body but it is susceptible to breakdown from acids found in soda/drinks. The more acidic the drink (the lower its pH), the more rapid the enamel destruction. Tooth enamel dissolves below 5.5.

It is important to note that exposed root surfaces de-mineralize twice as fast as that of enamel.

Soda/drinks may contain carbonic, phosphoric, malic, citric and tartaric acids and therefore have an acidic pH. Drinks that contain artificial sweeteners still pose a significant threat because of their acidic content.

ACID (ph)

Low = Bad

Water 7.00 (neutral)
Brewed Black Coffee 6.25
Brewed Black Tea 5.36
A&W Root Beer 4.80
Diet Sprite 3.34
Sprite 3.27
Diet Dew 3.27
Diet Coke 3.22
Mountain Dew 3.14
Gatorade 2.95
Canada Dry Ginger Ale 2.94
Diet Pepsi 2.94
Arizona Iced Tea 2.94
HI Punch 2.82
Coke 2.48
Pepsi 2.46

There are other areas of the body which are affected:
  • The phosphoric acid in beverages leaches calcium from bones, promoting osteoporosis.
  • The intake of excess calories from soda is contributing to the obesity/diabetes epidemic that is occurring in children/teenagers today.
The best things to drink are water, milk and 100% fruit juice, with the understanding that even milk and juice have sugar that can lead to decay.
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