The foundation of a beautiful, functional smile is good dental hygiene. Almost always, the first step of a cosmetic makeover or implant treatment is making sure that the patient has clean, healthy gums.
After the treatment is finished, it is essential to maintain these high standards, particularly in implant cases so we feel that our hygiene service and coaching in good toothbrushing skills are an important part of what we do.
Cleaning your teeth properly helps protect them against decay and even more importantly helps keep your gums healthy. More people loose teeth because of gum disease than any other cause and research has linked unhealthy gums to a number of diseases affecting the whole body.
Of course, a fresh, clean smile just looks and feels better (and smells better too). The importance of good dental hygiene really can’t be underestimated.
Even patients who are doing a good cleaning job themselves benefit from regular hygiene visits with us. For many patients half an hour twice a year is enough to keep their teeth and gums healthy and to let us look for any issues before they become big problems.
Q How many times a day should I brush my teeth?
A – At least twice, but ideally not more than three times – normally morning and night. You should wait at least 40 minutes after eating before you brush, as the acids caused by eating soften the enamel temporarily so you need to allow time for that to be reversed.
Q How long should it take me?
A – You should spend about 2 minutes on brushing then a little longer using floss or interdental brushes. Think of dividing your mouth into sections (lower outer and inner surfaces, upper outer and inner surfaces and the upper and lower biting surfaces). Always start in the same place and follow a system which will help you not to miss areas. There are more details on our toothbrushing instruction sheets here.
Q Can I brush my teeth too much?
A – Surprisingly, the answer is yes. If you brush too often or too hard you can wear away enamel or hurt your gums. If you tend to brush your teeth too hard, an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor which alerts you if you are overdoing it really helps.
Q Do I really need to floss?
A – Brushing alone can’t clean all the surfaces of your teeth. We strongly recommend that you use floss or interdental brushes to clean the spaces between your teeth.
Q What should I do if my gums bleed when I brush or floss?
A – Keep going (gently). Bleeding is a sign that you need to be more thorough with your cleaning. The bleeding should stop as your gums become healthy. Make an appointment to see us if it doesn’t.
Q What kind of toothbrush should I use?
A Whether to use an electric or manual toothbrush is often down to personal choice. Some people find they can clean more easily with an electric toothbrush, which may also have a timer and pressure sensor to help with your technique.
If you prefer a manual brush, it is best to use one with quite a small head and medium bristles. You want to use a brush which is easy to manoeuvre inside your mouth and which isn’t too hard on your enamel and gums.
Brushes (or the brush head if you are using an electric toothbrush) should be rinsed and allowed to air dry after use and should be replaced every three to four months.
Q What about toothpaste?
A – Many toothpastes contain the same basic ingredients so again it is often a personal choice. Unless you are living in an area where fluoride has been added to the water you should use a paste which contains fluoride. A pea sized amount is enough. You should spit out the paste after you have finished brushing, but don’t rinse your mouth out with water. It is best to avoid more abrasive toothpastes as these can damage your enamel.