With Toothbrushing, It's All About The Gums by Brian P. Midgette, D.D.S.
I started thinking about it after a particularly long day at the office last week. After a few loose calculations I realized that in my 26 years of private practice, I have examined close to three million teeth. Now not all of these teeth look like what you probably think teeth look like. Most of them have been pretty healthy-solid, strong and slightly whiter than a kernel of Silver Queen corn (I am looking forward to summer). However, plenty of them have been sick enough to keep my small dental army fighting hard to salvage as many teeth as we can. With that in mind, I am amazed at how little is done at home to prevent most of the problems that result in needing treatment by a dentist.
I love having my teeth cleaned. Next to having my hair cut, it is one of the more relaxing things I have to look forward to. The reason it is relaxing for me is because it does not hurt at all. The reason for this is because I do most of the work at home every day. I would guess that the number of perople who brush their teeth more than twice a day is probably around 20 percent. As for brushing and flossing daily, probably more like 10 percent. Another observation resulting from years of picking teeth is that even when the home care is done often and regularly, it is rarely performed well.
Most of the bigger dental hygiene problems that I see are in teenagers, especially with braces, and middle aged adults and older. I think the reason for this in many instances is that in both cases there are more nooks and crannies for food debris to collect in, thereby causing more gum problems and tooth decay. Of course everyone should brush at least twice or three times each day. You have got to floss, toothpick, waterpik, proxabrush or use whatever other device you have to get to plaque and food out from between the teeth each day as well. Also, brush after you eat and especially clean your teeth and gums before going to sleep.
One important brushing tip: When brushing, especially if there are lots of food traps, focus on brushing the gum line of the teeth-not only the chewing surfaces. If you angle the brush bristles at 45 degrees toward the gum line and brush in a gentle circular motion, you will get the teeth and gums clean. Brush for a full three minutes, gently scrubbing the gums, being careful to apply light pressure. only slightly bending the bristles. Focus on the gum line and make sure to spend plenty of time on the tongue side of the teeth and the back surface and corners of the rear most teeth. If you have braces or deep spaces between the teeth, gently mash the bristles in there to push out the food and plaque; the gums will become tougher and healthier and the teeth will be clean. Often in situations where there are lots of nooks and crannies, it is beneficial to have the teeth cleaned three or four times a year instead of the insurance company policy mandate of twice a year-it will save you money in the end by reducing the frequency and severity of dental problems.