Your personal home care starts by reducing the number of snacks you eat, and correctly using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.
Tooth brushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA approved soft polished bristle brush and toothpaste. Actually toothpaste is optional, but more on that later.
Place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums and gently brush using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside of the front teeth.
Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. I recommend Sonicare or Oral B. The Sonicare vibrates back and forth and the Oral B has a circular motion. Both brands work well on. Costco sells the top of the line models and you can usually get 2 brushes for the price of one elsewhere. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time. The Sonicare has a built in timer which forces you to brush for 2 minutes.
Flossing – Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.
Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.
Rinsing – It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. Use other dental aids as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist: Interdental brushes, rubber tip stimulators, tongue cleaners, irrigation devices, fluoride, medicated rinses, etc., can all play a role in good dental home care.
Toothpaste - Patients ask me what toothpaste I recommend. I usually say it does not matter, it is how you use your toothbrush. If you have sensitive teeth then I recommend Sensodyne because it seems to help alot of people with their sensitivity. Several popular toothpastes can cause your teeth to be more sensitive to cold and sweets because they remove the natural protective coating present on the teeth, especially if you have receding gumlines. A high percentage of people have what are called abfractions on their teeth which are little divots present along the gumline, most commonly along the lower canine and premolars (the teeth behind the canines). I have always thought that these divots were caused by grinding and clenching during the night. I went to the local dental convention in March 2010 and a Doctor gave a lecture stating that the abfractions are not caused by grinding but by toothpaste abuse. All toothpaste is abrasive. Gingival recession can be caused by brushing too hard, but the divots are caused by toothpaste. He recommended not using toothpaste at all, but find a mouthwash you like, put it in a pump spray bottle and use that instead.