Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a pea-sized amount of an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. It is important to replace your toothbrush at least every 3 months, or sooner if the bristles begin to fray.
When you brush your teeth, hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle and brush slowly and carefully. Brush the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of the teeth. It should take about 2 minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Don't forget to brush to your tongue to remove bacteria which can cause bad breath.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice daily, but more often is encouraged.
Dental floss reaches surfaces in between the teeth which the toothbrush cannot access to remove plaque and food.
Cut about 18 inches of floss and start winding one end around one of your fingers on one hand. Guide the floss through contacts by using a gentle back-forth motion. Once you reach the gumline, hold the floss tight in a C-shape. Gently rub the floss along the side of one tooth, then repeat for the adjacent tooth. Unwrap clean floss from around your finger as you floss your way around your mouth. Don't forget to floss the back surface of your last teeth to wipe away any plaque.
There are several varieties of floss available depending on what your specific needs are. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once daily. If you are new to flossing, your gums may bleed a little and be sore in the beginning. This is normal and due to previous inflammation. Keep with it, as you continue to floss the gums will become healthier and less likely to bleed.
The natural grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth can be difficult to thoroughly clean, sometimes they are narrower than the width of a single toothbrush bristle. When food and bacteria settle into these areas, cavities can form.
Sealants are a resin which is bonded to the deepest areas along the chewing surfaces of back teeth, they should not interfere with the way teeth come together. They create a barrier to protect the depth of the grooves and also create in a smoother surface which is easier to keep clean. Ideally sealants are applied as the permanent molars and premolars erupt in childhood, a dental anesthetic is not needed. Sealants should last for several years and should be re-evaluated during period checkups.
Fluoride is a supplement that helps teeth become stronger and more stable in a lower pH, therefore more resistant to decay.
Fluoride is found in public drinking water treated with fluoride and cavity-preventing toothpaste and mouthwashes. For patients with a higher decay risk, prescription strength fluoride can be given for at-home use or in-office application.
To get the best result from fluoridated mouthwashes and prescription-strength treatments, use at least once daily after you brush and floss. Use for the recommended time, after you spit out be sure you don't rinse or drink for at least 30 minutes. Keep in mind that these are topical applications, so let the fluoride have time to soak in.
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