We are all born with one set of permanent teeth. It is up to you to keep them for a lifetime. Your dental health professional (dentist or dental hygienist) will work with you for the best way to help you maintain a healthy smile for a lifetime
Most patients should visit their dentists at least twice a year. During these visits your dentist and dental hygienist will update your medical history. They will perform a comprehensive exam, a routine cleaning and home health care instructions. Occasionally a patient may need more than a routine cleaning.
Good brushing and flossing are important parts of your dental hygiene regimen. Why is brushing so important? Regular tooth brushing with toothpaste plays a major role in reducing the growth of plaque that causes cavities, tooth decay and gum disease.
Brushing should be done at least twice a day, in the morning after breakfast and at night before bedtime. Unless otherwise specified you should be using a fluoride toothpaste. Occasionally your dentist or dental hygienist may suggest using toothpaste that has tartar control as well.
You should always use a soft bristle brush to brush your teeth. Never use a hard or medium brush as they can cause tooth erosion that will cause sensitivity or the need to have the teeth restored. Brushing too hard can cause this same erosion. You should also never use a toothbrush that has a head that is too large, as it will cause you to miss areas. Please the brush at a 45-degree angle and use soft circular motions away from the gums. Make sure your brush all surfaces of the teeth and even your tongue.
Flossing should be done at least once a day. Tear off 18-20 inches of floss. Starting at one end wrap the floss around the two fingers easiest to work with. Gently bring the floss between the teeth. Slide it gently up and down around the four corners of the teeth you are between starting under the gum line and moving to the biting surface of the tooth. Do not use a sawing motion, as it will cause damage to your gums.
There are additional aides that your dentist or dental hygienist may suggest, helping you in your dental hygiene quest. Occasionally they may suggest that you use an electric toothbrush. These electric brushes that have rotating or oscillating heads can sometimes be more effective than manual brushing.
Your dental health professional may also suggest the use of home fluoride to help with sensitivity of teeth, if you are decay prone, or having some medical issues that could affect your overall health status.
The most important thing to remember is to talk to you dental health professional and find out what is best for you to maintain your teeth and smile for a lifetime.