Oral Hygiene Instructions

The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques performed daily. By doing these steps, you will remove plaque, tartar and food debris. Establishing patterns is extremely helpful to a successful personal oral hygiene program. We recommend brushing and flossing in the same manner every morning and last thing before bed.

How to Floss

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. Hold the floss firmly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand and gently insert it between the teeth using a back-and-forth sawing motion until you have broken the point of contact. Do not force or snap it into the gums.

Bring the floss to the gum line and 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 the one tooth and the do the same to the adjacent tooth. Continue to floss each side of all the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.

Remember to floss behind the last tooth! When finished, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if during the first week or two of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. After daily removal of plaque through proper flossing, your gums will heal.

How to Brush

Imagine a small green pea and place this amount of toothpaste on your brush. Remember your pattern and brush the same way every time. For the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the toothbrush horizontally at a 45-degree angle to where your gums and teeth meet. Apply light pressure and direct the brush in a circular motion using small, gentle strokes. When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same pattern to clean the tongue-side of the back teeth.

For the tongue-side surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, you may hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth or circular strokes to each tooth and the surrounding gum tissue. Clean the biting surfaces of your teeth by using short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach all surfaces. When finished, rinse vigorously to remove any debris you might have loosened while brushing.

Caring for Sensitive Teeth

A common concern of patients is cold sensitivity of their teeth. Dr. Brueggeman or Dr. Kopecky will check for cavities or gum recession. Sometimes a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth may be prescribed. There are also tooth desensitizers that are ideal for single tooth applications.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

Here are some tips in identifying dental products that will work best for you.

  • Electric toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of patients. They are available in sonic and rotary styles. These types of toothbrushes often have helpful features to time your brushing experience or adjust the bristle movements and speed.
  • A soft bristled brush will help minimize the effects of toothbrush abrasion. Realize that no matter what type of brush is used, you will still need to change your toothbrush head when the ends become frizzy or splayed.
  • Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth thoroughly but do not remove all plaque. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator. These are terrific for periodontal patients or situations where there is recession, tilting of teeth or hard-to-reach spaces.
  • Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle; this is used to massage the gums after brushing. Other specially designed brushes might have a little circular brush at the end or Christmas tree-shaped brush. These and others may be recommended by the dentist or hygienist.
  • Fluoridated toothpastes are recommended for maximum cavity protection. Those having the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval have gone through testing in addition to FDA guidelines to ensure patient protection. Sometimes, a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste will be recommended for extra cavity protection.
  • Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help manage early gum disease in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
  • Conventional floss comes in waxed, unwaxed or woven types. For those who prefer flossing tools, there are a variety of choices including long, short, or Y-shaped handles! The one that allows you the greatest accessibility to all of your teeth is best.