(This is the first post in a 3-part series!)
As a dental care patient, you deserve to understand what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and why we’re doing it. In order for you to truly comprehend this information, we understand that it’s our responsibility to easily provide you with access to the resources that will function to properly educate you on a specific dental procedure or topic. The goal? To ensure that you feel comfortable with any oral health care decisions that we make together.
On our Patient Education page, you’ll find a series of informational videos intended to outline some of the more common services and treatments that we provide. In this three-part blog post series, we’re going to give you an overview and a summary of the content in these videos to more easily prepare you for what to expect.
Manual vs. Electric Toothbrushes
The first video focuses on the differences between a manual and an electric toothbrush. Let’s take a look:
- Manual Toothbrushes: A manual toothbrush is still a very common option as it’s inexpensive and comes in lots of varieties, sizes, and bristle configurations. The disadvantage to a manual toothbrush is that it requires more work to use to effectively remove plaque and debris.
- Electric Toothbrushes: An electric toothbrush is touted for its ease of use; unlike a manual toothbrush, electric toothbrushes require reduced effort to clean teeth effectively. They often feature a rotating or oscillating head that moves bristles rapidly and that is designed to remove plaque & debris more easily. The disadvantage to an electric toothbrush is that it’s more costly than a manual toothbrush.
Regardless of which toothbrush option you decide to use, the size & shape should fit comfortably within your mouth and should feature soft, firm bristles that function to remove plaque successfully without damaging your gums.
Proper Brushing Technique
When brushing is done properly, it leads to a healthy mouth and smile. This essential part of your daily dental care routine should be performed for two minutes at least twice per day. We recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste to most effectively remove plaque. Here’s a quick look at a proper brushing technique:
- Tilt your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gum line and use short strokes in a back & forth motion when cleaning the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of your teeth
- Tilt your toothbrush vertically when cleaning the inside surfaces of your front teeth, and use up & down strokes
- Remember to brush your tongue to remove bacteria & to reduce bad breath
- We recommend that you change your toothbrush every 3-4 months, when it begins to show wear, or after an illness
Using a proper brushing technique reduces the likelihood of developing tooth decay and keeps your teeth free of bacteria!
Proper Flossing Technique
In order to achieve complete dental care, you should also engage in a proper flossing technique. Why? Floss can reach and remove plaque and food particles under the gum line and in between your teeth; places that a toothbrush can’t always reach. Here’s a quick look at a proper flossing technique:
- Use about 18 inches of floss & wind most of it around your middle fingers, leaving approximately 1-2 inches to work with
- Hold the floss between your thumb and index fingers & gently slide the floss up and down between your teeth
- Curb the floss around the base of each tooth to get between your gum line; be careful not to snap or force the floss
- Use a clean section of floss for each section of teeth, using the same back & forth motion to bring the floss up & away from your teeth
Plaque buildup can lead to tooth decay & gum disease, so it’s very important that you floss daily. With multiple varieties available, make sure to consult your dentist on what type of floss is best for you in order to effectively promote your oral health.
Progression of Tooth Decay
It’s important to detect and address tooth decay issues early in the process in order to prevent expensive and unpleasant consequences. Let’s take a look at the process:
- The process of tooth decay starts with plaque and bacteria building up on the tooth structure, which creates acid
- Acid erodes tooth enamel, or the hard, protective coating on your tooth
- When acid breaks through the outside layer of our enamel, the decay spreads faster due to the dentin, or the inside layer, not being as hard
- If decay expands through the dentin, it can penetrate the interior of the root and require tissue removal
- This can also lead to a range of external damage like cracks & fractures that can result in the loss of a tooth
Regular dental visits, practicing good & regular oral hygiene, and maintaining a proactive attitude toward your oral health can minimize the risk of developing tooth decay.
Simply put, gingivitis is an inflammatory condition of our gum tissue that is caused by the buildup of bacteria on our teeth. It’s viewed as an early form of gum disease that has not yet progressed to tissue or bone loss. Here are the basics:
- When plaque is allowed to remain on our teeth, bacteria start to cause redness, swelling and irritation of our gum tissue
- Because gingivitis rarely causes pain, many people aren’t aware that they have it
- Symptoms may include: tooth sensitivity; tenderness of gum tissue; bleeding during brushing, flossing or probing during exam; seeing a pinkish tone on your toothbrush or floss after brushing or flossing
If gingivitis goes untreated, it can lead to further complications. Maintain your regular oral hygiene checkups and consult with your dentist to ensure that you halt the progression of gingivitis.
Stay tuned for the next part of our patient education video series where we’ll take a look at: endodontic abscess, filling versus crown, prophy versus scaling & root planing, bone graft with immediate implant replacement, and fixed hybrid dentures.
As always, feel free to contact us at any time with any oral health questions!