How easy is brushing your teeth? Put a little toothpaste on your brush, then water — or if you’re “out there” you might wet your toothbrush first — then swish it around your mouth a few times and there you go. Your oral hygiene objectives have been achieved! Or have they? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), half of adults ages 30 or over have gum disease. If you’re over the age of 60, this percentage goes up to nearly 70 percent. Even if you consider yourself an oral hygiene pro, chances are, you still have a few things to learn.
We’re bringing you all the best tips to fight gum disease, keep that smile shining bright and possibly save your life!
Oral Hygiene 101
Just like college, it’s sometimes best to start with the 101 information before graduating on to the nitty-gritty of technique. So here’s how it works: cavities and gum disease are not so much the result of sugar as they are the result of bacteria. Already there’s around 8 billion bacteria living inside your mouth, helping you to pre-digest food, and protecting you from infection. Among these bacteria are a strain known as Streptococcus mutans, which help to digest sugar and simple carbohydrates.
For the most part, this is a good thing. When given an abundant source of food, however, they can over populate, attach to your teeth and gums, and produce an acidic by-product that can dissolve enamel and cause inflammation in the gums. When you brush your teeth, floss, and even when you use mouthwash, this is what you’re trying to avoid.
Technique Is Important
The American Dental Association suggests brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once. Because you’re trying to eliminate the food source of potentially harmful bacteria, the best time to do this is before you go to bed and when you wake up — since this is often an 8 hour window for bacteria to feed and produce biofilm known as plaque. Even if you do brush your teeth twice a day (and floss), technique is important.
Proper tooth-brushing technique requires two components: time and thoroughness. Don’t worry, though, it should take no longer than two minutes. Just make sure you’re brushing at a 45-degree angle, slightly hitting the gums. Don’t brush to hard, however, because you could damage your enamel and gums. Also important is using toothpaste that contains fluoride. Flossing can be a little more difficult. Start out with about sixteen inches of floss, and make sure you get between each tooth, periodically dipping below the gum line. Forgetting the last step is an amateur mistake, and you don’t want to be an amateur!
The last bit of pro-advice about succinct oral hygiene is visiting your dentist once every six months for a cleaning and checkup. Conditions like gum disease don’t happen overnight. They develop slowly until they become major problems. Cleanings not only help to keep your teeth shining, they also make sure problems are caught in time.
If you are overdue for a teeth cleaning and a routine exam in Anchorage, please call (907) 274-7691 today for an appointment with a general dentist at Denali Dental Care.