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Oral Hygiene: Cleaning Your Teeth & Gums

Hygiene and Periodontal Care

Good oral hygiene is the key to maintaining healthy teeth. Most adults lose teeth due to gum disease. Gum Disease is a complex disease but it is a well-known fact that good oral hygiene habits will prevent or reduce the severity of the disease.


An appointment with you hygienist is much more than a quick cleaning. It’s an opportunity to detect potential problems before they occur and help you prevent damage to your teeth, keeping them bright and strong for a lifetime. During your visit, we carefully examine your teeth and gums and look for any subtle changes in their condition that may occur over time. We will also spend a lot of time talking to you about how to protect your teeth and maintain healthy gums. By emphasizing prevention, we are working with you to keep your teeth and gums in optimum condition for years to come.


Cleaning your Teeth and Gums


What is Plaque?

Dental Plaque is a biofilm or mass of bacteria that grows on surfaces within the mouth. Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugared foods, such as candy and cookies, are not the only culprits. Starches, such as bread, crackers and cereal, also cause acids to form. If you snack often, the bacteria will become more active, which will result in demineralization of the enamel, which is the beginning of a cavity.


Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, tender or bleed easily. After a while, gums may pull away from the teeth. Pockets form and fill with more bacteria, which increases the chance of infection. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed. The teeth may become loose or have to be removed. In fact, periodontal (gum) disease is a main cause of tooth loss in adults. The bone around a tooth is unique and is called alveolar bone. Once lost the body never replaces this bone, which is the reason why periodontal disease is so destructive.


What are some tips for daily oral care?

The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and flossing your teeth every day. Brushing helps remove plaque from the tooth surfaces.


Brush your teeth twice a day, with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth, allowing you to reach all areas easily. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. When choosing any dental product, look for the Canadian Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, an important symbol of a dental product's safety and effectiveness.


Cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners removes plaque from between the teeth, areas where the toothbrush can't reach. It is essential in preventing periodontal (gum) disease. Think of flossing as “Brushing in between your teeth.”


By taking care of your teeth, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist and hygienist regularly, you can have healthy teeth and an attractive smile your entire life. Follow these tips to keep your teeth and mouth clean:


How do I brush my teeth?

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Use the "toe" of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.


How do I floss my teeth?

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
  • Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a ’C’ shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  • Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions.
  • Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.
  • Don't forget the back side of your last tooth.


People who have difficulty handling dental floss may prefer to use another kind of interdental cleaner. These aids include special brushes, picks or sticks. If you use interdental cleaners, ask your dentist about how to use them properly, to avoid injuring your gums.


What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky, hard to remove bacterial mass caused by many of the foods we eat on a daily basis. While sugary foods, such as cookies and candies are the primary culprits, they’re not the only ones; starches, breads, cereal and crackers also cause plaque-creating acids to form. If you frequently snack, these acids may be attacking more often and it can lead to tooth decay.


Plaque can also create substances that irritate the gums, making them tender, red or more likely to bleed when brushing. After a while of being attacked by the plaque acids, your gums may start to pull away from the teeth or “recede.” Receding gums will create pockets that fill with more pus and bacteria. If left untreated, the bone that holds teeth in place can be destroyed. This can cause the teeth to become loose and may require their extraction. In fact, gum disease (periodontal disease) is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.


One way to prevent tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease is by eating a balanced diet and limiting the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.


What are some tips for daily oral care?

The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces.


Brush your teeth twice a day, with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth, allowing you to reach all areas easily. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. When choosing any dental product, look for a seal of approval from either the Canadian Dental Association or American Dental Association; these help identify a product’s safety and effectiveness. While banned in many areas, you should also avoid toothpastes that have metallic sparkles or coloured specks as these can become lodged underneath the gum line, leading to inflammation and infection.


Cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners removes plaque from between the teeth, areas where the toothbrush can't reach. It is essential in preventing periodontal (gum) disease.


By taking care of your teeth, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly, you can have healthy teeth and an attractive smile your entire life. Follow these tips to keep your teeth and mouth clean:


How do I brush my teeth?

  • Brushing can be easy and effective when you follow these simple tips:
  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes. Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Use the "toe" of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.


How do I floss my teeth?

Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.


Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.


When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.


Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don't forget the back side of your last tooth.


People who have difficulty handling dental floss may prefer to use another kind of interdental cleaner. These aids include special brushes, picks or sticks. If you use interdental cleaners, ask your dentist about how to use them properly in order to avoid gum injuries.

PLEASE NOTE: The content provided here is for informational purposes only and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your physician/dentist with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

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