diet and Home Care
The health of your mouth is directly correlated to your home care and diet. Periodontal disease and tooth decay are both caused by different types of bacteria. By managing sugar in your diet along with daily brushing, flossing, and oral irrigating with a water flosser–you can help prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay by reducing bacteria in your mouth.
Drinks such as regular soda, diet soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened iced tea, lemonades, and even milk contain sugar and/or acid that can lead to extensive tooth decay, enamel destruction, and poor dental health because of the low pH or acidity of the drinks.
Soda/drinks, mints, cough drops, and hard candies all contain carbonic, phosphoric, malic, citric, and/or tartaric acids and therefore have an acidic pH. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body but it is susceptible to breakdown from acids found in soda/drinks, mints, cough drops, and hard candies. The more acidic the item (the lower its pH), the more rapid the enamel destruction.
Now, we understand that you will have a soda drink or a piece of hard candy every so often. Our concern is the length of time you are exposed to the acid in the product. Drinking a can of soda in 10 minutes has much fewer effects than sipping on it all day long. The same concept exists with mints and hard candies. We have found that people who talk a lot as a part of their job, people who just quit smoking, or people who feel their mouth is “dry” turn to mints and hard candies to get them through. If you are going to eat the candy or mint, make sure it is sugar-free and/or contains xylitol. If it is not sugar-free, be sure to eat it quickly and avoid tucking it into your cheek and allowing it to slowly dissolve. We recommend rinsing with water or brushing, if possible, after drinking carbonated beverages or consuming hard candy.
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Dr. Jill Colson and Dr. Chad Colson recommend using a soft to medium toothbrush. Position the brush at a 45 degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.
When you are finished cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.
To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.
Next, you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth by using short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.
Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from between your teeth. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you but remember it takes time and practice.
Start with a piece of floss (waxed is easier) about 18” long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the pointer finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the pointer finger of the other hand.
To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to place. Bring the floss to the gumline then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth and then the other. Remember, there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.
To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefingers of both hands and repeat the above steps.
Do not forget the backside of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.
When you are finished, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque, your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop. If bleeding continues, please call our office to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.
Daily brushing, flossing, and use of an oral irrigator will keep dental calculus to a minimum, but an appointment with one of our experienced hygienists will allow for the removal of calculus in places your toothbrush and floss have missed. Your visit to our office is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Your immune system’s susceptibility to periodontal disease will determine the frequency of your hygiene visits. Patients with low risk usually visit their hygienist every 6 months while those with a higher risk visit their hygienist every 3-4 months. How easily your gums bleed and how quickly you develop calculus are determining factors as well.
At this visit, Dr. Jill Colson and Dr. Chad Colson also perform an oral cancer screening, evaluate your teeth, gums, soft tissue, existing restorations, and radiographs during your visit with our hygienist. At Dentistry at Pelham Pointe, it is our philosophy to address periodontal disease, decay, and failing restorations as soon as possible to prevent the destruction from getting worse. We want you to keep your teeth for your lifetime.