Practising an effective oral health care routine is vital to preventing decay and maintaining good oral health. Brushing, flossing and using a dental mouthwash daily are all important aspects of maintaining an effective daily oral health care routine.
When brushing your teeth, it is best to place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your teeth, aiming the bristles of your brush toward the gum line. Bacteria and plaque tend to accumulate at the join between the teeth and the gum, so it is important to focus on this area. Once you have the brush at the correct angle, all you need to do is gently push the brush back and forward, only brushing one or two teeth at a time. Proper brushing should take two to three minutes and should be done at least twice a day.
The best toothbrush is one with a small head and soft bristles. Electric toothbrushes can also be very good, particularly for people who find proper brushing techniques difficult to master. Always use a toothpaste containing fluoride as this will strengthen your tooth enamel and help prevent decay.
Brushing Children’s Teeth
For babies without teeth, wipe the gums every day with a clean washcloth to remove plaque. As teeth come through, use a small, soft toothbrush and water. Supervise oral hygiene until your child is eight or nine years old or until you are confident that good techniques are being used. When your child is old enough not to suck the toothpaste from the toothbrush and swallow it, use a pea-sized amount of low-strength fluoride toothpaste.
If you have a problem with plaque or gingivitis, you may want to try a mouthwash that assists in the elimination of these bacteria. Using a mouthwash is not a substitute for thorough brushing, but rather should be used in conjunction with a good brushing and flossing routine.
Flossing every day is important for maintaining good oral hygiene. It is the most effective way to remove plaque from hard-to-reach places between the teeth, where brushing cannot reach. Gently direct the floss between each tooth, moving the floss up and down to scrape the tooth surface. Glide the floss around the tooth and under the gum edge until you are sure the plaque is removed. If gums bleed or become slightly swollen, this is due to inflammation caused by plaque build-up, and the plaque needs to be removed for the inflammation to subside. If bleeding persists, visit your dentist or dental hygienist.
Flossing and children
Children’s teeth should be flossed from about the age of two by a parent or carer. We can show you the easiest and most effective way to do this.
An interdental brush can be used to help control chronic gum disease. It looks like a tiny Christmas tree on a stick that is used like a toothpick to effectively remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth near the gums, especially the back teeth. It should be gently pushed between the teeth as far as it will go. If you have gum disease, your dentist may recommend that you use an antibacterial gel on an interdental brush to reach between the teeth.
Fluoride reduces the number of cavities an individual will develop in their life by about half. Fluoride makes the enamel of the tooth more resistant to the acid attacks of plaque, as it promotes the remineralisation of the teeth. Resistance is developed initially when the fluoride is incorporated into the teeth during their formation, and secondly, as fluoride in toothpaste or water washes over the surface of the erupted teeth.
Fluoride applications in the dental surgery can be utilised from the age of three, and may be recommended in some cases. Fluoride can arrest very early decay and can sometimes even reverse the damage.
How much fluoride is in fluoride toothpaste?
Children’s toothpaste contains between 400 and 500 ppm (parts per million). Adult’s toothpaste contains between 1000 and 1100 ppm. Toothpastes should not be used on children under the age of two years. Between the ages of 2 and 6, only a smear of children’s toothpaste should be used, and children should be supervised while brushing to ensure they spit the toothpaste out rather than swallow it. From the age of 6, full strength fluoride toothpaste should be used by children.