A beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our ultimate goal when treating patients. Your personal home care plays an important role in achieving that goal. Your personal home care starts by eating balanced meals, reducing the number of snacks you eat, and correctly using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.
Tooth brushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste. Toothpaste such as Colagate's Total with the ingredient Triclosan has been shown to be helpful in controlling plaque.
Place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums and gently brush using a jiggling, horizontal or circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside of the front teeth.
Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
Electric toothbrushes are also helpful, especially for patients with debilitating conditions like arthritis that can make it hard to hold or manipulate a manual toothbrush effectively. These devices are easy to use, and can remove plaque efficiently. The Braun Oral B is effective, and has a smaller head for those tight spots in the back. The Sonicare has also been shown to be effective. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job. Go slowly and work only two to three teeth at a time. Some of these brushes have a two minute timer on them. Two minutes is the prescibed amount of time to do a thorough job. Develop a routine, and do it the same way each time so you don't miss any spots.
Interdental Cleaning using special brushes -especially for patients with gaps or spaces, are invaluable as the "go to" method for removing plaque and food debris from between the teeth where the conventional or electric toothbrush can't reach. Most serious dental problems start between the teeth, so be sure to carry out good interdental cleaning. Proxa Brushes and Go Betweens are the work horses.
Flossing – Daily flossing is an effective way to clean between the teeth and slightly under the gumline. The goal with all plaque control efforts is to clean by disrupting plaque (bacteria) colonies from building up, and therefore prevent their damage to the gums, teeth, and bone. So don't think you are not accomplishing any benefit unless you see alot of material being removed. Disrupting those bugs that you can't see is the name of the game.
Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.
Oral Rinsing – Dr. FitzPatrick recommends that over the counter products for oral rinsing may be the least effective plaque control measure available. But if an OTC rinse is desired, use Listerine or a fluoride rinse such as ACT. The oral rinse Plax (pre brushing rinse) has been shown to be no more effective than rinsing with water, so save your money.
Use other dental aids as recommended by Dr. FitzPatrick or the dental hygienist to meet your specific needs: various interdental brushes, rubber tip stimulators, tongue cleaners, irrigation devices, fluoride, prescription rinses, etc., can all play a role in good dental home care.