Maintaining a Great Smile: Dental Hygiene Tips

i did not have parents that carefully helped me understand good habits to maintain teeth and dental hygiene. can a dentist offer me standards or tips to protect my tooth health? thank you very much

Doctor Answers 13

Oral hygiene is key to the appearance and longevity of your teeth

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Floss is HUGE!!!  Between the teeth is where most breath problems come from as well as most gum disease and adult decay.  Think of what food does when it sits in a corner of your fridge too long.  Now think of that same food in a warm, moist, dark hidden crevice in your mouth instead of in a fridge!  You get the point!  

Next an electric toothbrush (I strongly believe Sonicare is the best and I think the evidence is pretty strong) will help more than you'd think.  When I use a regular brush, my teeth don't feel clean now that I'm used to a Sonicare, and I'm a dentist, so I like to think I know how to use a toothbrush!

If the budget doesn't allow for an electric brush right now, get a soft brush and look up the modified Bass technique on the internet.  You will find videos which can show you far better than we can ever explain in words here. Toothpaste doesn't seem to matter much - physically cleaning the teeth is by far the most important thing.  Sensodyne can help a little with sensitivity.  High fluoride pastes are available for those with an elevated risk of cavities.

If you're still with me, a tongue scraper will remove an astonishing amount of brown crud from the top of your tongue.  Be prepared to gross out the first time you do it!  This is food and bacteria that swim right over to your teeth the minute you finish brushing!  I have tried a lot of them and find the Discus Dental one to be best.  I believe it is in drug stores now.  If not, ask your dentist.  Be sure to get as far back as you can without gagging and apply as much pressure as you can without cutting your tongue.

If you're still wanting more, the next level is a rinse.  I try to avoid alcohol, as alcohol dries out tissues which weakens them.  There are many studies that say the alcohol containing rinses make your breath worse 15 minutes later, NOT better.

Memphis Dentist

Flossing is the most important step in keeping up with...

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Flossing is the most important step in keeping up with your oral hygiene.

If you don’t floss, bacteria and debris sits between your teeth and can wreak havoc. Many people have bad breath issues due to the lack of flossing.

Jimmy C. Wu, DDS
San Diego Dentist

I wish all of my patients would FLOSS! That's the...

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I wish all of my patients would FLOSS! That’s the hardest thing to get anyone to do but research shows it’s actually affects your heart and overall body health.

Jennifer Jablow, DDS
New York Dentist

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I always recommend my patients to start brushing...

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I always recommend my patients to start brushing correctly. This entails placing the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle between the gum and tooth (sulcus), brushing for ten seconds per tooth in circles.

Flossing is also important. The best way to learn how to floss is from your dentist or hygienist.

You should use an 18-inch piece of floss, wrapping six inches around your middle fingers. Make sure that the floss is wrapped around tightly. Using an inch to an inch and a half piece, gently glide the floss in a “C” shape under the sulcus until resistance is met. Do this for each tooth.

Once you get used to this process it will only take a minute to a minute and a half to do.

Dental hygiene tips

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The obvious answer to maintaining a healthy smile is dedication to flossing and brushing as well as eating a healthy diet and regular dental visits.  Also depending on a patient's condition, the hygiene department may make additional recommmendations for other hygiene items like a proxybrush.

Daniel Melnick, DDS
Laurel Dentist

Brushing and Flossing

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It is very important to brush and floss twice a day.  Brush gently in circular motion using a soft toothbrush.  You can also brush your tongue for fresh breath.  Flossing will clean the contact areas between the teeth that the toothbrush can't access.  Gently slide in the floss and slide it 1-2 mm under the gum with a gentle up and down motion.  This will only take a few minutes and is well worth it.  Keep it clean, Dr. Elizabeth Jahanian.

Elizabeth Jahanian, DDS
Los Angeles Dentist

Floss Floss Floss

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Flossing is an important part of your dental routine it helps remove food left behind stuck between teeth, brush for at least 3 minutes, using a mouth rinse or waterpik helps flush out any bacteria left behind. You can also use a tongue scraper  to remove bacteria left on the back of the tongue that causes bad breath. Flossing & brushing should be done twice a day. You should visit your hygienist every 6 months to maintain unless otherwise specified.

Lawrence Gilbert, DDS
Woodbury Dentist

Brush regularly and floss at least twice a day using...

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  • Brush regularly and floss at least twice a day using oral care products that are free of detergents, alcohol, and chemical additives- like REVITIN
  • Eat (and drink) more fruits and vegetables high in fiber and antioxidants like blueberries, cranberries, dark green vegetables and green teas
  • Visit your hygienist every 3-4 months; they are experts on helping you keep your smile healthy and beautiful

I wish all my patients would floss more. One should...

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I wish all my patients would floss more. One should floss every evening.

Pia Lieb, DDS
Manhattan Dentist

Floss, Floss, Floss and Floss! Regular flossers have...

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Floss, Floss, Floss and Floss!

Regular flossers have very little chance of developing Gum Disease.

Justin Glaister, DDS
London Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.