Oral Hygiene

Brushing

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste, unless the child is under the age of 3. If a child is younger than age 3, parents should clean their child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. After age 3, parents should supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.

When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.

Brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque:

  • In the morning after breakfast
  • After lunch or right after school
  • After dinner
  • At bedtime

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.

Flossing

For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day.

Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.

Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.

Diet Control

The teeth, bones and soft tissues of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups help minimize and avoid cavities and other dental problems. Consumption of foods that contain sugars and starches should be decreased. These foods can include candies, cookies, chips and crackers. Healthier foods, such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, help promote stronger teeth.

Sealants

The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children are caused this way.

Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin typically applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars and areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years but needs to be checked during regular appointments.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities. Dentists can evaluate the level of fluoride in a primary drinking water source and recommend fluoride supplements (usually in tablets or drops), if necessary.

Dental Visits

You should visit your general dentist twice a year (once every six months). In order to maintain a healthy smile, it is vital to have professional cleanings and regular check-ups. Your dentist will examine your teeth and provide an evaluation of existing dental problems and proposed treatment. If you have a dental emergency, you should call your dentist immediately.

Using an Interdental Toothbrush with Braces

A Proxabrush is an interdental (between the teeth) toothbrush that you may use to clean underneath and around your wires and braces. Use the Proxabrush gently to avoid damaging your wires. The Proxabrush will help you to clean your braces while maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Using an Antibacterial Mouthwash while in Braces

Peroxyl, a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouth rinse, will reduce inflammation to your gums and cheeks. Peroxyl helps to prevent infection and decrease irritation that may develop from your braces. Rinse your mouth with two teaspoons of Peroxyl (half a capful) for one minute and then spit it out. You may use Peroxyl up to four times daily following your schedule for brushing: after meals (or after school) and before bed. Just like using peroxide for a scrape on your skin, Peroxyl helps the inside of your mouth heal. Peroxyl can be used for general irritation caused by your braces or for canker sores, cheek bites and other minor temporary injuries to the gums.

Cleaning Your Removable Appliance

Brush your removable appliance every day as a part of your regular brushing and flossing schedule. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate on your appliance just as they do on your teeth, soak the appliance daily. Dissolve a Polident, Efferdent or other denture-cleaning tablet in a glass of tap water at room temperature and soak your appliance once every day. Your appliance will taste better, and you will prevent plaque and bacterial accumulation.