How often should I have my teeth professionally cleaned?
Regular dental visits are essential in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush and floss, plaque and tartar build up between teeth and should be removed by a dental professional. A simple, 60 minute visit every six months will keep your mouth healthy and prevent future dental problems.

Do I have to floss?
Yes. While both brushing and flossing will remove bacterial build up on your teeth, flossing can help remove plaque betwen teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. Bacteria left in the mouth from leftover food particles also causes bad breath, and flossing helps rid the mouth of particles trapped between the teeth.

The American Dental Asociation recommends that you floss at least once a day. Brushing without flossing is like washing only 70 percent of your body – the other 30 percent remains dirty. If you haven’t flossed in a while, your gums may begin to bleed slightly. That is a good indication that your gums are in the early stages of gum disease, and will benefit from a regular flossing regimen.

How do I floss properly?
To floss properly, follow these simple steps:

Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the rest around a finger on the opposite hand.

Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Using about one-half inch at a time, gently guide the floss between your teeth. Be careful not to force the floss into the gums.

When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide the floss gently into the space between the gum and the tooth, making sure it goes all the way down under the gum. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Rub the side of the tooth gently with up and down motions to move the floss away from the gum.

Floss between all your teeth.
Since plaque is an invisible film, use a disclosing agent (available from your dentist) once a week. This will show whether you are thoroughly cleaning all the plaque away and indicate the areas you’re missing.

If you haven’t been flossing regularly, your gums may bleed the first few times you do this. But after a few days, they should stop bleeding during flossing. If they don’t, make an appointment for a thorough teeth cleaning and consultation.

How should I brush my teeth?
Brushing and cleaning between your teeth is the best way to remove plaque and keep it from forming. You should brush twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Brush using a circular motion, making sure you brush your gums as well. Improper brushing, such as using a back and forth motion, can actually wear out your teeth or leave behind harmful deposits, especially near the gumline.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?
You should brush with a toothbrush with soft bristles. Be sure your toothbrush is the right size and shape to fit into all corners of your mouth. Your toothbrush should be replaced about every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are worn. Children’s brushes may wear out more quickly. Always look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance on the label of the toothbrush you choose, as well as on any dental product you purchase. Dental products that should have the ADA’s seal of acceptance may include toothpaste, tooth brushes, dental floss, interdental cleaners, mouth rinses and oral irrigators (waterpicks).

What is the best toothpaste to use?
Check for the ADA seal of acceptance. Baking soda has not been shown to be beneficial. In fact, baking soda used for baking should never be used to brush. It is too coarse and can damage your teeth. However, some ingredients that have been proved effective include, ingredients that promote tartar control, hydrogen peroxide, and desensitizing ingredients. But the most important element is the toothpaste that makes you brush your teeth more often is the one you should use. Experiment to find one that makes your mouth feel the freshest.

Does flouride help prevent tooth disease?
Fluoride Tablets and Drugs
Chewable fluoride tablets or drops can be an effective and inexpensive preventive measure against tooth decay. These supplements, prescribed by your physician or dentist, should be taken daily. Generally, fluoride drops are recommended for infants from birth until they are able to chew fluoride tablets. Fluoride tablets are prescribed for children from birth through their teen years. Daily flouride treatment benefits existing teeth as well as those being formed in the jaws.

Mouthrinses with Flouride
Daily rinsing with dilute solutions of neutral sodium fluoride also increases the tooth’s resistance to decay. For daily rinsing, a 0.05 percent solution of neutral sodium fluoride is recommended, and a 0.2 percent solution is recommended for weekly rinsing. Studies show that school-age children who regularly rinse weekly with a fluoride solution will have about 35 percent fewer cavities than individuals who do not use any flouride treatment. Many schools provide weekly flouride mouth-rinsing programs. It is inexpensive and well accepted by teachers and students. Fluoride mouthrinses are not intended for swallowing, therefore fluoride mouthrinses are not recommend for children younger than 6 years of age because many younger children are not able to control their swallowing reflex. Fluoride mouthrinses are available commercially without a doctor’s prescription for daily home use.

Fluoride Dentifrices (toothpaste)
The use of a fluoride-containing dentifrice (toothpaste) is recommended for children and adults. Regular, thorough brushing with a fluoride dentifrice will help provide protection against tooth decay, with increased protection when used together with most other forms of fluoride therapy. The use of a fluoride-containing dentifrice by children below the age of six should be closely supervised by an adult. Because preschool-age children are susceptible to developing dental fluorosis, only a small, pea-size portion of toothpaste should be put on their toothbrush for brushing. Dental fluorosis, or white spots on the teeth, are an indication of too much flouride is being consumed while teeth are developing.

Professional Application of Topical Fluorides
Dentists and dental hygienists often apply fluorides directly to the teeth. These topical fluorides are either a gel applied in mouth trays, or solutions painted directly on the teeth. Semi-annual flouride applications can also substantially reduce dental decay.