Preventive Dentistry

BRUSHING AND FLOSSING


Brushing
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle, and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.

Brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque:

  • In the morning after breakfast
  • After lunch or right after school
  • After dinner
  • At bedtime

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.

Flossing
For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day.

Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.

Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.

FLUORIDE

Fluoride is one of the most abundant and chemically reactive elements on earth.  Many foods (including certain teas, red wines, and cheeses) contain high amounts of fluoride.  Everyone ingests at least trace amounts of fluoride on a regular basis.

Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the fluoride content in local water facilities to the recommended dose for optimal dental health.  Hundreds of fluoridation studies, from more than 20 countries, have proven the effect of optimal fluoride levels in local diets at reducing tooth decay.  In some communities, fluoride needs to be reduced (taken out) from local water supplies, and in other communities it is added to water supplies to create optimal fluoride concentration.

There are still a few areas (i.e., Spokane, WA) which have virtually no naturally occurring fluoride in local water supplies, and civic leaders have chosen (I believe unwisely) not to add fluoride to the community water.

In such a case, your family dentist can prescribe fluoride tablets in the right concentration for local water supplies to prevent decay in residents.

Again, numerous studies have shown that fluoridated water, at an optimal level recommended for decay prevention in teeth, is completely safe.

Application of fluoride to teeth (both systemically and topically), along with pit and fissure sealants, are the two best preventive measures in reducing or preventing decay in teeth.

Fluoride does not replace flossing, but as part of a good oral hygiene program, can go a long way in helping to reduce or eliminate tooth decay.

Keep Smiling!

PIT & FISSURE SEALANTS

Decay in teeth is caused by plaque.  Plaque is bacteria and all the sticky material and waste products produced by those bacteria.  One waste, acid, when left repeatedly, will attack enamel causing a cavity (hole) in your tooth.

Two of the best preventive methods against cavities are the application of:

  • Sealants to the pits and fissures on the tops of teeth
  • And the application of fluoride to teeth.

    This article focuses on preventing decay in the premolars and molars using pit and fissure sealants.  These grooves are often quite deep microscopically, making cleaning those areas impossible, since the bristles of a toothbrush will not reach such tight places.

    Sealants are applied by cleaning out the grooves and depressions in the tooth.  The surface of the enamel is etched (roughened) with a weak acid solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth.  Once the acid is rinsed away, the tooth is air dried and brushed with the sealant material.  A special light cures (hardens) the material, preventing plaque from reaching the enamel.  Finger-like strands of sealant material reach deep into the enamel, protecting those areas from decay.

    Sealants are an important part of a total decay prevention program, along with daily brushing and flossing, the application of fluoride, and limiting the times your teeth are exposed to sugar rich foods.  Twice yearly visits to your friendly dentist is also a good habit to develop.

    Bon Appétit!

    TIPS FOR HEALTHY TEETH

    Sealants protect the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, but they don’t take the place of brushing and other steps to prevent decay. Help your child do the following:

    • Brush and floss daily to remove bacteria and plaque and help keep the gums healthy.
    • See the dentist regularly. Checkups every 6 months help detect any problems early.
    • Get regular fluoride treatments. Along with fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated drinking water, fluoride treatments help protect the smooth surfaces of your child’s teeth from decay.
    • Eat a good diet. Your child needs plenty of protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Limiting foods that are high in sugar – such as soft drinks, cookies, and sweetened cereals – reduces the risk of tooth decay.

    What could you do to improve the health of your teeth?