The oral enviroment is a place that favors the proliferation of bacteria. Temperature and humidity, the presence of sugar (the best nutrient for bacteria) and the difficulty in reaching and cleaning the teeth makes the mouth an ideal enviroment for the bacteria to flourish. The bacteria attach to the surfaces of the tooth and the gums, grow and form a film, the dental microbial plaque . The dental plaque cannot be removed just with rinsing with water, it has to be brushed off, at least twice daily. If the teeth aren't cleaned daily, the dental plaque continues to maturate and with the precipitation of minerals from the saliva, calculus (tartar) starts to form. Calculus is so well attached to the tooth that only a sharp dental instrument can remove it.
Brushing alone is not enough for proper oral hygiene. Flossing should be done as well (at least once a day) in order to remove the dental plaque between the teeth, where the toothbrush cannot reach.
Proper way of brushing
- Place the head of the toothbrush on a 45 degree angle to the tooth surface. The brush bristles should contact (or slightly enter the gums).
- Without removing the toothbrush from the teeth, make small horizontal moves, like massaging.
- After a few horizontal moves, brush off the teeth by moving the brush vertically (from the gums to the tip of the tooth). This way, the plaque that was removed from the gums is brushed off.
- Move to the adjacent teeth and brush as above.
- The same should be done from the lingual side of the teeth.
- In the end brush the occlusal surface of the tooth (the chewing surface with horizontal moves)
How to floss (video)
- Cut a piece of floss, half a meter long.
- Wrap it on the middle finger twice and wrap the rest of it on the middle finger of the other hand. You should leave about 10 cm floss between the middle fingers.
- You can use the indexes and the thumbs to control the floss, as you clean the interdental spaces (the surfaces of the teeth that touch).
- The finger (either index or thumb) of the one hand goes on the inside of the mouth (where the tongue is) and the other hand on the outside of the mouth.
- Push the floss through the contact point (the area of the tooth that touches on the other tooth).
- Next, embrace the one of the two teeth with the floss.
- Clean the surface of that tooth by moving the floss up and down.
- Before you pull the floss from the contach point, embrace the other tooth and clean that in a vertical motion as well.
- Wrap the floss on the one middle finger and release it from the other. That way, a fresh part of the floss will clean the next interdental space.
Oral hygiene tips
- Our aim is to remove the plaque from all the surfaces of every tooth.
- What kind of toothpaste is used doesn't really matter as long as it contains fluoride (most modern toothpastes do). The most important part is the brushing technique, not the toothpaste used.
- The floss cleans when moved upwards and downwards not inside out (in that case it can injure the gums because it acts like a saw!).
- The back surface of the last tooth should be cleaned as well (either with the toothbrush or the floss). It might be way back, but that doesn't mean that bacteria don't live there!
- In the inner surface, especially of the front teeth, sometimes it's difficult for the brush to clean because of crowding. In this case the short side of the toothbrush can be used to clean one tooth at a time.
Remember that proper brushing and flossing lasts less than 5 minutes. That's about the time the commercials run before your favorite movie...