Twice-daily toothbrushing with a fluoride toothpaste is a key component of any preventive program against dental decay for all ages. Daily (0.05% Sodium Fluoride) and weekly (0.2% Sodium Fluoride) fluoride mouth-rinses, even at low concentrations, effectively inhibit tooth decay by remineralizing early lesions.
Teeth exposed to fluoride are stronger, and the fluoride also reduces the number of acid producing bacteria in the mouth. Various fluoride mouth-rinses, gels, varnishes, and toothpastes are available to control dental decay. Look for an alcohol-free fluoride mouthrinse to prevent drying out delicate oral tissues.
The food we eat plays a key role in our risk to dental decay. Restricting sugar (refined carbohydrates) and hidden sugars in complex carbohydrates (bread, baked goods, dried fruit) are the keys to personal prevention. The frequency of sugar intake rather than total sugar consumption increases the risk of dental decay.
Plaque forms as a sticky film of harmful bacteria and food debris on the teeth, the lining of the mouth, and on dentures. Some bacteria produce toxins that cause bleeding gums and bad breath. When the bacteria in plaque are fed sugar from candies, sweet drinks (fruit juices, pop, sugared coffee or tea) or other soft complex carbohydrates, they produce acids that cause cavities.
After the teeth are cleaned, dangerous levels of plaque return within 12 to 24 hours. Plaque should be cleaned from the mouth every day to prevent bad breath, bleeding gums and tooth decay. Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and the accompanying bad breath, occurs usually because oral hygiene is inadequate.
Dentures should be removed before brushing the teeth and gums. They should also be brushed thoroughly every day over a sink filled with water, to prevent breakage if the denture is accidentally dropped.
It is best to clean the mouth just before going to bed. This will decrease the exposure of the teeth and gums to plaque bacteria overnight when the natural protective flow of saliva decreases.
Meticulous daily oral hygiene, at home, that includes brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing is important in preventing oral disease. The toothbrush (manual or electric) with a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste can clean everywhere except between teeth that are close together. Closely contacting and difficult to reach surfaces can be cleaned with floss or periodontal aides (toothpicks, periodontal brushes, or dental yarn).
All teeth should be flossed once a day. Food debris and bacteria tend to build-up over the day. These bacteria are responsible for tooth decay and gum disease and need to be cleaned away using dental floss. It is preferable to floss prior to going to bed since the teeth will then be clean overnight.
Toothbrushes should NEVER be shared! Oral bacteria are contagious!