Oral hygiene remains of great importance, yet many adults seem to neglect this basic task to some extent. In fact, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 92 percent of adults in America between the ages of 20 and 64 have one or more cavities in their permanent teeth. What surprises many is Caucasians, and those with more education and higher incomes tend to have more cavities. In addition, 26 percent of adults have untreated cavities in the mouth, although these are more common in Hispanics, blacks, younger adults, and those with less education and lower incomes. With proper oral hygiene, these problems can be avoided.
Periodontal disease needs to be of concern also as more teeth are lost to this disease than to decay or other issues. Although the prevalence of this disease has decreased over the past few decades, it remains of concern, especially among certain populations. Current smokers, those who never finished high school, and those between the ages of 50 and 64 are most at risk when looking at individuals between the ages of 20 and 64.
By the time a person reaches the age of 75, their risk increases. In fact, 11.03 percent of individuals age 75 or older have periodontal disease, and this problem is more common in men and blacks of non-Hispanic descent. All need to be concerned about this problem, which is defined as having a minimum of one periodontal site with attachment loss of three millimeters or more and pocket depth of four mm or more. How should you go about caring for your teeth and gums to prevent these types of issues?
Teeth need to be brushed a minimum of twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Position the brush at a 45-degree angle where the teeth and gums meet and use a circular motion. Use small, gentle strokes and light pressure when brushing between teeth, and repeat this process for both the front and back of the teeth. To clean the inner surfaces of the teeth in the front of the mouth, position the brush vertically and make gentle back-and-forth strokes over the teeth, ensuring all teeth are cleaned. Brush gum tissue surrounding the teeth as well, then move to the biting surfaces. Be sure to clean all surfaces, positioning the brush as needed to do so. Follow up with a thorough rinse to remove any remaining plaque.
Periodontal disease typically occurs in those areas inaccessible to a toothbrush; thus flossing is essential. The floss removes this plaque, but only when used properly. Use floss that is approximately 18 inches long, and wrap this floss around the middle fingers of each hand. Use the thumb and index fingers to mark off a small piece of floss and direct it between the teeth. Guide the floss up and down between the teeth, gently wrapping the floss around the side of each tooth and using a zig-zag motion. Repeat along the tooth surface on both the front and back and under the gum line, using a new section of floss for each tooth.
Although brushing and flossing help to minimize plaque, professional cleanings are still needed. These cleanings help to remove any plaque that has hardened in those areas missed by the toothbrush and floss. Cleanings go a long way to helping prevent periodontal disease; thus they should never be neglected. In addition, the cleaning allows the dentist to look for signs of oral cancer and other diseases that may affect a person’s overall health. These cleanings are also a good way for dental professionals to monitor oral hygiene and make recommendations or provide advice on proper technique.
Sensitive Teeth Care
Many individuals suffer from sensitive teeth. Some only experience this program after dental treatment, yet others find it to be a regular problem. With proper oral hygiene, these problems may be reduced. Individuals should use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. Highly acidic foods and drinks tend to make the problem worse, so avoid these. Use a mouth guard if you grind your teeth, as this can make the problem worse.
Oral Hygiene Products
Thanks to the wide selection of oral hygiene products available today, many consumers remain confused as to what they should buy. Electronic toothbrushes remain a good choice, and some opt to use an oral irrigator, although these products don’t remove plaque. Flossing and brushing remain critical, and we recommend the Brawn Oral B and Sonicare brands. Toothbrushes with a rubber tip allow the user to massage the gums, while tiny brushes help to clean between teeth, but they can damage the gums if used improperly. With the help of fluoride mouth rinses and toothpastes, tooth decay may be reduced up to 40 percent. Speak to us about your oral hygiene needs, as we can make recommendations based on your current oral health.
Nutrition plays a role in dental health, as a strong immune system helps to fight off diseases of the mouth. The amount of food and when it is eaten are also of importance, as saliva production increases when you eat. The saliva helps to rinse away any food particles that remain in the mouth while also neutralizing acids. Eat healthy foods, and your oral health will improve.
Properly care for your teeth at all times. If you have any questions about how to do so, contact the Washington Center for Cosmetic Dentistry at (202) 873-1341. We’ll be happy to work with you to ensure your oral health is the best it can be at all times, as it is definitely too important to neglect.