In order to continue to maintain healthy teeth and gums, a regime of brushing twice a day should be combined with interdental brushing or cleaning between the teeth with floss.
This will ensure that your teeth are kept throughout your life.
The importance of brushing
The major cause of tooth decay and gum disease is plaque, this is a natural production in the mouth during the day. Whilst brushing controls plaque formation around the surfaces of your teeth, it does not reach between your teeth and that is why interdental brushing once a day is so crucial. It has been estimated that brushing alone only cleans 65% of the tooth surface.
One of the commonest indications of gingivitis is bleeding gums. We get asked every day by patients as to why their gums bleed.
1. Don't ignore it.
2. Don't stop brushing because they bleed - gums will not get better by leaving the plaque around the teeth.
3. Use a Chlorhexidine Mouthwash or Gel such as Corsodyl for a week or two.
4. Use an electric tooth brush (ideally) for a minimum of 2 minutes twice a day.
5. Use floss or interdental brushes at least once a day.
There are two types of toothbrushes - electric / battery powered and manual.
ELECTRIC toothbrushes are either an oscillating / rotary type or a vibration type. They allow better access to difficult to reach teeth and areas of the mouth. People who brush too hard can benefit since the action is stopped with too much pressure. Many have a two minute timer.
MANUAL toothbrushes should be of a medium texture with a medium sized head. The brush should be held at 45 degree angle where the gum and tooth meet, using small circular motions for effective plaque removal and to minimise tooth wear through over brushing.
Whichever brush you are using you should always brush for two minutes, twice daily and change your toothbrush head every 3 months. Electric brushes often do not look worn so it is important to stick to these guidelines. If you have an electric toothbrush you can subscribe on Amazon so that they will send you a new head every three months.
What can I do about Staining?
If you smoke, or drink a lot of tea, coffee or red wine it is likely that you will develop stained teeth. In most cases you should be able to remove this staining with regular cleaning. However, more stubborn stains may take a little more effort or scaling. Electric toothbrushes can reduce the incidence of staining.
What about Mouthwash?
Many people use a mouthwash as part of their daily oral health routine. Some mouthwashes contain an anti-bacterial ingredient to help reduce plaque and prevent gum disease. Mouthwashes may contain fluoride to help prevent decay and all will help to freshen your breath and wash away particles of food. However, they are certainly not a substitute for good brushing!
Mouthwashes can be used to aid tooth brushing and interdental cleaning. They can be used to reduce general oral bacteria which lies on the teeth, tongue, and soft tissues inside the mouth. Some will help reduce gingival inflammation and bleeding or reduce halitosis (bad breath). Mouthwashes are a good adjunct to keeping a good oral hygiene regime but it is important to remember that the most effective way to remove plaque is mechanically by using a brush and interdental aid.