Professional cleanings combined with good daily home care can remove a high percentage of disease-causing bacteria and plaque. In addition, teeth that are well-cared for make for a sparkling white smile.
There are numerous types of oral hygiene aids on the shelves today, and it can be difficult to determine which will provide the best benefit to your teeth. We will help you choose what is best for your mouth.
Here are some of the most common oral hygiene aids for home care:
Dental floss is the most common interdental and subgingival (below the gum) cleaner and comes in a variety of types and flavors. The floss itself is made from either thin nylon filaments or polyethylene ribbons, and can help remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth. Incorrect flossing can cause soft tissue damage and bleeding, so great care should be taken. Floss should normally be used twice daily after brushing.
We often recommend interproximal brushes in addition to or instead of dental floss. These tiny brushes are gentle on the gums and very effective in cleaning between the teeth that have room for them. Interdental brushes come in various shapes and sizes.
There are two basic types of mouth rinse available: Cosmetic rinses which are sold over the counter and temporarily suppress bad breath, and therapeutic rinses which may or may not require a prescription. The benefit of cosmetic rinses is questionable in regards to their effectiveness against plaque. Therapeutic rinses, however, are regulated by the FDA and contain active ingredients that can help reduce bad breath, plaque, and cavities. Mouth rinses should generally be used after brushing.
Oral irrigators, like Water Jets and Waterpiks can help clean loose debris from between the teeth. When used properly, oral irrigators can be effective in lowering the risk of gum disease but should not be used instead of brushing and flossing. Plaque sticks to the teeth and needs to be removed mechanically. Irrigators should not be used in areas with active infection (pus).
Tongue cleaners are special devices which have been designed to remove the buildup of bacteria, fungi and food debris from the tongue surface. The fungi and bacteria that colonize on the tongue have been related to halitosis (bad breath). Tongue cleaners can be made from metal, wood or plastic and shaped in accordance with the contours of the tongue. Tongue cleaning should be done prior to brushing.
There are a great many toothbrush types available. The vibrating or rotary motion of an electric or battery-driven brush helps to easily dislodge plaque and remove food particles from around the gums and teeth. The same results can be obtained using a manual brush, and one should choose to use whatever works best in their hands. The heads of manual or motorized brushes should be checked often and replaced when the bristles become worn. Soft bristle toothbrushes are far less damaging to gum tissue than the medium and hard bristle varieties. In addition, an appropriate sized ADA approved toothbrush head should be chosen to allow proper cleaning of all the teeth. Teeth should ideally be brushed after each meal, or minimally twice each day.
If you have any questions about oral hygiene aids, please ask us.