Dr. Albers and his team are dedicated to caring for your teeth in Santa Rosa. What’s more, we are here to educate you, so you can maintain healthy teeth and gums in just a few basic steps.
In a nutshell, you should brush and floss every day to prevent tooth decay and remove plaque from your teeth and gums. You should also visit us – your family dentist – for a professional cleaning at least twice a year. During these regular professional cleanings, we remove tartar from places that your brushing and flossing cannot remove. To maintain the best oral health, eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water and limit sweets. And, if you’re a smoker, quit.
- Brush twice a day.
- Use a soft-bristled brush that fits your mouth.
- Use toothpaste with fluoride to help protect your teeth from decay.
- Place the brush where the gum meets the tooth, with the bristles at a 45-degree angle to your teeth so that they get under the gum line.
- Caring for your teeth in Santa Rosa requires gentle brushing, as vigorous brushing can actually injure the gums and make them more susceptible to periodontal problems.
- Brush in short circular or small (tooth-wide) strokes.
- Brush both the inner and outer surfaces of the teeth and brush the broad chewing surfaces with the entire brush.
- To clean the inner surfaces of the front teeth, use the tip of the brush in gentle up-and-down strokes.
- To clean the back of the last molars close your mouth half way and move your jaw to the side so the brush can reach behind the last tooth. This is a common place for decay to occur.
- Brush for at least two minutes.
- Scrub your tongue for about 30 seconds to remove even more bacteria.
- If you dry brush first, follow the same brushing procedure for about a minute and a half without paste, then brush again for another two minutes.
- Rinse the toothbrush thoroughly.
- Change brushes every three months or so, or when the bristles are bent or frayed, or after a cold or illness.
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the other middle finger.
- Holding the floss between your thumbs and forefingers, guide it between two teeth by gently rubbing it back and forth.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it around one of the teeth and gently slide it back and forth in the crevice between the tooth and the gum.
- Holding the floss tightly against the side of the tooth, rub gently up and down.
- Repeat for each tooth, including the backside of your last teeth, changing to a different part of the floss as you go along.
- Because toothbrushes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, choose one that fits the contour and size of your mouth. For most people, a four- or five-rowed, soft, nylon-bristled toothbrush will do, but extra features can be helpful. For example, an extended tip helps reach back molars and the inside of your front teeth. Brushes with higher bristles in the center are better at reaching below the gum line. The rubber tip at the end of some brush handles is good for massaging the gums after brushing and flossing. Electric toothbrushes and new high-tech models that use sound waves remove significantly more plaque than ordinary brushes. However, most experts agree that if a regular toothbrush is working for you, stick with it.
- Toothpastes deliver fluoride to the teeth and slightly under the gum line to protect against decay. They can also whiten and remove stains from teeth, and encourage brushing by tasting good and preventing bad breath. Some toothpastes also reduce the amount of bacteria around the teeth and help reduce bleeding due to gingivitis. Tartar control toothpastes do indeed reduce tartar, but only above the gum line. Avoid highly abrasive toothpastes. Some people brush with a mixture of 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed with baking soda as a toothpaste. It is a old formula used for generations. However, there's no evidence the combination is any more effective against gingivitis or periodontitis.
- Choose a dental floss that does not shred or fray and isn't so thin it cuts the gum or can't be guided gently down and around the sides of your teeth. If your teeth are very close together, try a waxed floss or one containing Gore-Tex®. This will not tear on sharp edges as easily. If you have difficulty using floss or have bridgework, a floss threader may help. Special picks, small brushes and other interdental cleaners are handy for wide spaces between teeth. Standard toothpicks should never be used for regular hygiene.
- Mouthwashes shown to fight plaque are over-the-counter are Listerine® and the prescription-only ones containing chlorhexidine (Peridex®, PerioGard®). CariFree®, available from our office, is very effective for decay too. Converting bad bacteria back into good bacteria which causes less disease. Rinses are not a substitute for regular brushing and flossing.
- Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will not remove plaque from your teeth unless used in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
Using a mirror and a special calibrated probe, we check for bleeding gums and pockets. If a pocket is found, we measure its depth by placing the tip of the probe inside the pocket down to where the connective tissue attaches to the tooth.
Pocket depths greater than 3 millimeters indicate disease; depths greater than 4 millimeters indicate periodontitis. After the screening, the records show where pockets were found, how deep they were, where the gum appeared inflamed or injured, and which teeth were loose. If the condition is severe, our periodontist will see you for treatment.
If you are susceptible to gum disease, PSR is an important step in caring for your teeth in Santa Rosa. It and X-rays are used in the diagnosing of gum disease. It is recommended that you receive a full series of mouth X-rays every two to three years. This reveals early bone loss, along with cavities or fractures in the teeth.
- Quit smoking. Gum disease can be added to the long list of reasons why it's healthier not to smoke.
- Hormone replacement therapy might be something to consider if you're a woman past menopause. Not only does it lower the risk of developing osteoporosis, which is linked to periodontal disease, but a study published in the Journal of Periodontology showed that taking estrogen supplements can reduce gum inflammation and bone loss around the teeth.
- Drinking water helps reduce inflammation in the mouth by producing more saliva. Saliva is important for diluting the toxins created by plaque. In addition, the more water you drink, the less soda you're likely to consume, which means less sugar in your diet.
- Eat healthier. A balanced diet enhances your overall health. Fewer sweets decrease the amount of sugar in your mouth that's available for bacteria to eat and turn into corrosive acids that can cause tooth decay.
To learn more about caring for your teeth in Santa Rosa, please phone Dr. Albers’ office to make an appointment at (707) 575-1190 today.