Your smile depends on simple dental care habits, such as brushing and flossing. But are you using the right techniques? Follow these steps to protect your oral health.
Call the office immediately if you have any of the following with a toothache:
- Pain that persists for more than a day or two
- Signs and symptoms of infection, such as swelling, pain when you bite, red gums or a foul-tasting discharge
Brushing For Oral Health
Oral health begins with clean teeth. Keeping the area where your teeth meet your gums clean can prevent gum disease, while keeping your tooth surfaces clean can help you stave off cavities. Consider these brushing basics from the American Dental Association:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. When you brush don't rush, take enough time to do a thorough job. Use fluoridated tooth paste and a soft bristled brush.
- Practice good technique. Hold the tooth brush at a slight angle, aiming the bristles towards the gum line and gently brush with back and forth motions. REMEMBER; Always brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth. As well as your tongue.
- Know when to replace your tooth brush. Every 3-4 months or when the bristles become frayed.
Flossing for Oral Health
- For reaching the tight spaces between teeth and under the gum line that cannot be reached by a tooth brush.
- Break off around 18 inches of dental floss. Winding it around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the middle finger of other hand. Gripping it tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Be gentle. Do not snap the floss into your gums. Guide it using a rubbing motion. When it reaches the gum line curve it against a "C" shape around the tooth. Sliding it in an up and down motion.
- Take one tooth at a time. Unwind fresh floss as you progress to the next tooth.
- Keep it up. If you find it hard to floss use an interdental cleaner or interdental brush to clean between the teeth. Also, for people who do not have dexterity (elderly or children) can use a floss holder.
How do I care for my child’s teeth?
Good oral care begins before a baby's first tooth. Babies are born with all their teeth. You can't see them because they are hidden in the gums. Baby teeth start to break through the gums around 6 months. But it is important to start good oral care even before the first tooth comes in. From healthy gums come healthy teeth. Kids have all their baby teeth by age 3. These are called primary teeth. Baby teeth start falling out around age 6; that's when the permanent, or adult, teeth start coming in. Gaps between baby teeth are normal. They make room for the permanent teeth. Most permanent teeth come in by age 13.
Bottle Tooth Decay is a serious problem. It can happen if babies drink milk, formula, or juice out of bottles over long periods of time.
To avoid it:
Take the bottle away after your baby is done drinking.
Don't put your baby to bed with a bottle.
Some tips to keep kids' teeth healthy and strong
Wipe gums with a washcloth after feeding. This will help get rid of the sticky coating called plaque that can cause tooth decay.
Brush teeth twice a day with water and a soft-bristle toothbrush. Schedule their first dental appointment before first birthday.
Start using fluoride toothpaste at age 3. Use only a pea-sized amount and make sure your child spits it out after brushing.
Try to break thumb-sucking and pacifier habits by age 4. Start visiting your dental team every 6 months.
Begin flossing as soon as teeth touch. Let your child know that it's normal for baby teeth to fall out. That's how "grown-up" teeth come in.
Until children are able to practice proper oral health habits alone, parents should help their child brush and floss twice a day. Always pay special attention to the back teeth, which may have more plaque.
Require children who play sports to wear a mouth guard to protect their smile.
Parents can make the most of their teen's interest in how they look by reminding them that a healthy smile and fresh breath will help them look and feel their best.
How teeth look when braces come off depends on how they're treated while the braces are on.
Suggest that teens carry a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in their purse or gym bag for use during the day.
Start practicing good oral care even before the first tooth comes in. From healthy gums come healthy teeth.
Parents should schedule their child's first dental appointment before the first birthday and every 6 months starting at age 3.
It is important that children brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and begin flossing as soon as two teeth touch.
Children should limit sugary and sticky foods and drinks to protect against tooth decay.
Accidents happen, and knowing what to do when one occurs can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth. Here are some common dental emergencies and how to deal with them. For all dental emergencies, it’s important to visit your dentist as soon as possible. Most dentists reserve time in their daily schedules for emergency patients so be sure to call your dentist and provide as much detail as you can about your condition. If the accident occurs when your dental office is not open, visit your local emergency room.
For a knocked-out permanent or adult tooth, keep it moist at all times. If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If that’s not possible, place it in between your cheek and gums, in milk, or use a tooth preservation product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Then, get to your dentist’s office right away.
For a cracked tooth, immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Put cold compresses on the face to keep any swelling down. See your dentist as soon as possible.
If you bite your tongue or lip, clean the area gently with water and apply a cold compress. See your dentist or go to the emergency room as soon as possible.
For toothaches, rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between your teeth. Do not put aspirin on your aching tooth or gums; it may burn the gum tissue. If the pain persists, contact your dentist.
If you think your jaw is broken apply cold compresses to control the swelling. Go to your dentist or a hospital emergency department immediately.
For objects stuck in the mouth, try to gently remove with floss but do not try to remove it with a sharp or pointed instrument. See your dentist or go to the emergency room as soon as possible.
There are a number of simple precautions you can take to avoid accident and injury to the teeth:
Wear a mouth guard when participating in sports or recreational activities.
Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy, all of which can crack a tooth.
Use scissors, NEVER use your teeth, to cut things.