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Oral Health - Valley Dental

Oral Health Tips and Information

Best Cosmetic Dentist | Orthodontic Dentist | Dental Care
Arizona, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale, AZ

What is the Best Way to Brush Your Teeth?

Best Toothbrush - Choosing the right toothbrush is essential. There are so many different options on the market today. We generally recommend a soft-bristle brush with a small head. A softer brush will still remove plaque, but is soft enough not to damage your teeth or gums.

Best Toothpaste - There are also many toothpaste options to choose from. It is important to choose a brand that contains fluoride. Two of our favorite brands of toothpastes are Crest Multicare or Colgate Total. Those with sensitive teeth or other special needs as determined by their dentist may be referred to a specific brand of toothpaste.

Teeth brushing technique - It is best to start brushing from a specific location and work your way to the opposite side and all the way through the whole mouth back to where you began. This way you won't accidentally miss an area. Also, a small amount of toothpaste is enough, (about the size of a pea or two is plenty). A good brushing should at lease take 2 minutes and ideally around 3-4 minutes.

Proper Brush Angle - It is best to hold the brush at about a 45 degree towards the edge of the gums. This angle helps the ends of the brush bristles get in between the teeth and gums. It is also best to move up and down with a slight circular motion. Each area should get at least 5 or 6 brush strokes. On chewing surfaces (the tops of your teeth), short strokes will work best to get into all of the grooves and pits. Also when brushing the front teeth from inside, hold your brush vertically to be able to reach the teeth better.

How often should you brush your teeth? Ideally you want to brush your teeth after each meal and before you go to bed each night. But if you can't, brush at least twice a day, once after breakfast and then again before going to bed.


How to Floss Your Teeth

Toothbrushes are great, but they just can get in-between teeth like they need to. The only alternative is to floss before or after each brushing. There are certain foods that can cause lots of build-up between teeth like beefy-jerky. Take special care to make sure to floss and keep your teeth healthy!

Don't cut yourself short on the length of the floss, usually about two feet is a good idea. Wrap both ends of the floss around your middle fingers a couple of times. Use your index and thumb to control the floss moving between in between all your teeth one by one. When flossing, be care to avoid cutting your gums. The goal is to clean the teeth surfaces on the sides and not the gum. Press the floss against each side of each tooth (hug the tooth), gently moving it back and forth and up and down to remove any lodged food.


Manual Toothrush vs. Electric Toothbrush

Many studies have been conducted in an effort to conclude whether or not electric toothbrushes are superior to traditional manual brushes. There are many different brands of electric toothbrushes to choose from and even some inexpensive battery operated models. Manufacturers continue to improve both manual and electric toothbrush models each year.

It is not our intention to endorse any specific products on our website, but it is safe to say that studies generally conclude that electric toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque than traditional brushes. Units like the Phillips Sonicare® have a rapid sonic vibration that is difficult to mimic with a hand brush.

Generally, it is recommend the use electric toothbrushes with an "up and down" motion versus a "spinning" motion. These spinning brush heads have a difficult time getting in-between teeth and gums. Remember that a toothbrush with a smaller head makes it easier to get into hard-to-reach places, this especially important for those wearing braces.


Bad Breath

Believe it or not, bad breath doesn't always start in  your mouth. In many cases, diet and/or digestive problems are the main culprits of bad breath. However, the most common causes of bad breath do start in the mouth and can usually be remedied through a more consistent oral hygiene regimen.

Here are the most common causes of bad breath:

  1. Tongue (when bacteria grows in between the papilla)
  2. Teeth cavities (especially when food particles get stuck in them)
  3. Gum diseases (ask your dentist about persistent bad breath)
  4. Extraction sites during healing
  5. Dentures when not cleaned properly
  6. Alcohol and tobacco use

Some non-dental, but mouth-related issues that can contribute to bad breath:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Tonsillitis
  3. Certain foods
  4. Infection of air passages.

If you are concerned about bad breath, the first step is a get dental check up. Your dentist will be able to determine whether or not your teeth or mouth is the source of bad breath.

If the source of the bad breath is your mouth, increased attention to oral hygiene is paramount. Use of mouth wash and/or breath mints can help, but usually just mask the problem for a short period of time. in some cases this can make the situation worse (mouthwashes that contain alcohol cause dry mouth and that usually makes the bad breath worse in the end).

Just remember that simply following a good oral hygiene routine and getting regular dental check ups are best ways to prevent common bad breath.


Dental Health and Your Diet

SUGAR - When bacteria is present in your mouth, the introduction of sugar will accelerate it's growth and ill effects. The amount of sugar consumed is not as harmful as the frequency.

For example; when drinking a soda or snacking, it is best to have with a meal or as a dessert at one sitting. Sipping on a sods or snacking slowly over an extended period of time feeds the bacteria in your mouth with a steady diet of the sugar it craves!

Most of us don't recognize all the sources of sugar. It is not just about the sweets we love,  but anything starchy that can turn into sugar like bread. Cutting down on sugar consumption is good for cavity prevention and your overall health.

When you just gotta have some sugar, it is a good idea to brush your teeth immediately following your treat. If you can;t brush, try mouthwash or piece of sugar-free gum with fluoride if available.

Don't believe the wive's tales of cavity preventing foods… they don't work! The best way to avoid cavities is to avoid sugar… period.

- foods like lime, lemon and grapefruit, if in frequent contact with teeth, can cause serious irreversible damage (erosion) to your teeth. The same rules apply as sugar. Eat these foods at one sitting and follow up with a good cleaning. Avoid extended contact with your teeth!


Fluoride and Preventing Tooth Decay

Many years ago scientists started to notice that children who lived in areas with natural fluoride in drinking water had less cavities than children in other areas.

During mother's pregnancy and into to early childhood fluoride absorbed by the body integrates into the structure of tooth enamel and makes it stronger.

Once teeth have erupted, fluoride content in toothpaste, mouthwash, or what your dentist places on your teeth still has a positive effect on your teeth. It continues to strengthen the enamel and reduce the chance of tooth decay.

If you have children and live in an area that has no Fluoride in its drinking water you should consult your dentist and physician about fluoride tablets that are available for children.


Other Oral Health Topics

 CDC Oral Health Center

 American Dental Association

 NIDCR (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research)

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