Oral Hygiene

Teeth Brushing & Flossing

Why is oral hygiene so important?

Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum disease (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily.

Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gumline. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.

Call Tempe Office Phone Number 480-839-4550 with any questions or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fletcher.

How to Brush

If you have pain in your teeth or gums while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office at Tempe Office Phone Number 480-839-4550.

Dr. Fletcher recommends using an extra soft to soft tooth brush. Position the brush at a 45 degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth. Use light pressure while moving the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.

When you are done cleaning the cheek side surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth. To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle circular strokes over each tooth. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue and your tongue. Next you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth by using short, gentle strokes.

Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.

Proper brushing should take about 2 minutes. Try timing yourself for the full two minutes, 30 seconds in each quadrant of your mouth.  Dr. Fletcher recommends using an extra soft or soft tooth brush. Some people find they get a better result using an electric toothbrush.  Several good brands are available and you may call us anytime or ask when you are in our office for recommendations on the best one for you. People most helped by electric brushes are those who have braces or have a hard time holding on to a regular brush.  Elderly people in care facilities where someone has to help them with oral hygiene are aided greatly by the use of electric toothbrushes. Feel free to contact our office at Tempe Office Phone Number 480-839-4550 or by email with any questions.

How to Floss

Periodontal disease and tooth decay often begins between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember it takes time and practice.

Start with a piece of floss about 18” long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand. To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion.

Bring the floss to the gumline then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space.

Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section. To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefingers of both hands. Do not forget the back side of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.

When you are done, rinse your mouth vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.

If you find areas in between your teeth that often collect food please let Dr. Fletcher know at your next appointment or contact our office.  Often there are simple solutions for these problems.

Caring for Sensitive Teeth

Teeth can become sensitive to temperatures, sweets, biting or brushing them for a number of reasons.  Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long, usually resolving itself in less than a week.  If the mouth is kept clean the sensitivity will resolve sooner. If your teeth are especially sensitive please consult with Dr. Fletcher or his Staff. Depending on the reason, sensitive teeth may be helped by the use of a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.  Sometimes sensitive teeth are a sign of more serious problems so please let us help you.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

There are so many products on the market it can be difficult to know what is best. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients:

  • Manual and electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective for many patients patients.
  • Oral irrigators (water spraying devices like a water pik) will rinse out food between the teeth but will not remove plaque. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator.
  • Some people have unique dental hygiene needs where tiny brushes (inter-proximal toothbrushes) that clean between your teeth need to be used. If these are used improperly you could injure the gums, so be sure discuss proper use with your doctor.
  • Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses, if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, can reduce tooth decay significantly. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age.
  • Tartar control toothpastes may reduce tartar above the gum line, but gum disease starts below the gumline so these products have not been proven to reduce the early stages of gum disease. If you are using one of these and find your teeth are sensitive stop using the tartar control and use a regular tooth paste.
  • Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help bring early gum disease under control. Use these in conjunction with brushing and flossing if you like them.
  • Mouthwashes can sometimes be helpful for oral health. Some freshen your breath and do little else for health while others are effective in controlling bacteria that cause gingivitis and gum disease.  Ask us which type is best for you.

Professional Cleaning

Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus (tartar) to a minimum, but a professional cleaning will remove calculus in places your toothbrush and floss have missed. Your visit to our office is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease.

Call Tempe Office Phone Number 480-839-4550 with any questions or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fletcher.