Oral Health Products and Techniques

Every pharmacy or health and beauty section of a store today has an overwhelming variety of remedies and devices aimed at helping you maintain your oral health. While there are many high-quality products available, how are you supposed to decide which ones to purchase? What’s the difference between teeth brightening and teeth whitening? Should you be whitening your teeth at home at all? No matter what you’re purchasing, always look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance and ask your dentist if you have any questions.

Effects of Poor Oral Hygiene:

Poor dental hygiene goes beyond cavities or bad breath. The mouth is one of the main access points to the rest of your body, so an infection there can turn into an infection elsewhere. Certain oral diseases can be picked up in the bloodstream and taken to other places such as your liver and then through to your heart. In short, a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing paired with regular trips to the dentist is the best and easiest way to stave off more systemic or serious issues.

Daily Care

Both natural and restored teeth survive best in an environment that is regularly cleaned and cared for. Our suggested preventative program is designed to prevent new issues from arriving while maintaining and preserving what has been restored. It begins with your diet and intake. Avoid sticky, sugary foods, keep a balanced diet, and avoid any and all tobacco products. In addition, make it a habit to brush your teeth every morning and evening in a circular motion with your toothbrush aimed at your gum line. Floss every evening and use antiseptic or fluoride rinses as directed. Finally, have sealants placed on your permanent teeth as soon as possible. Children whose young, adult teeth receive this treatment are far less prone to cavities throughout their life than those whose are left unprotected.

Dentures

Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth. While the underlying base is often made of metal, the visible parts of dentures are made from an acrylic resin formed from a mold taken of your mouth. While they will never feel exactly the same as natural teeth, they are becoming more realistic and comfortable than ever before. They help people who have lost teeth or dental tissue regain the ability to chew, speak, and support facial muscles.

Dentures can be classified as conventional or immediate depending on when they were made relative to implants being inserted. Immediate dentures are inserted the same day as the removal of teeth and addition of implant anchors. Molds are taken and appliances made prior to the surgery so patients do not have to be without teeth when they leave. However, during the first six months of healing, a person’s mouth will change, often resulting in follow-up adjustments. While patients must wait for conventional dentures, they are often more accurate and require less refining.

Types of Dentures:

Complete dentures: When someone has experienced major tooth loss, it is easier to remove any remaining teeth and receive a completely new set as opposed to individually adding new implants or bridges. Complete dentures replace all of a patient’s teeth on either the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both. They are attached to the gum line to stay in place.

Partial dentures: For those who still have some of their natural teeth, a partial denture may be a better alternative to a complete one. A metal framework is attached to your natural teeth to serve as an anchor for the dentures. While metal clasps are often the connecting point, precision attachments are more discrete and aesthetically appealing. Oftentimes, crowns are added for extra support and a better fit for the appliance.

How Dentures are Made:

Though the earliest documented dentures were made from animal bone, lead, or elephant ivory, contemporary dentures are luckily far more advanced. First, an impression of your jaw is created and your bite relationship measured at your dentist’s office. These specs, along with the shade of your gums, is sent off to a specialized lab to create a completely customized appliance.

The lab then creates a wax version of your jaw and places the acrylic teeth into it. This is sent back to your dentist so you can do what is called a “wax try-on” so any adjustments can be made before the final version is created. The mold is sent back to the lab and an acrylic version is colored, formed, set, and polished.

On average, this process spans over five different appointments. A consultation with your dentist will help determine which type is best for you and establish an estimated time frame.

Getting Used to Your Dentures:

Many patients find their first denture to be challenging and awkward feeling. However, through time, patience, and practice, your mouth will adjust to wearing it. In the beginning, you may be required to wear the appliance around the clock as it is the fastest and most effective way to grow accustomed and/or identify areas that need adjusting. After some time, you will be able to take it out before bed and reinsert it in the morning. Some of the more challenging aspects will be eating, speaking, inserting, and removing.

Begin by only eating soft foods cut into small, easy bites. Chew slowly and focus on using both sides of your mouth simultaneously to ensure each side receives even pressure. Avoid hard, sticky, and hot foods in the beginning until you are confident enough to slowly reintroduce them to your diet.

Certain words will be difficult to pronounce in the first few weeks or months. Begin by practicing troublesome words or phrases. If your dentures make a clicking noise, slow down to gain more control. As you become used to speaking with your appliance, you will be able to speak normally again.

Finally, inserting and removing the denture may be difficult at first, but never feel like you have to force it into place. They are molded to you, so it should fit easily. However, it is not uncommon for the appliance to slip out when coughing, laughing or smiling. If they become loose, simply press down with light pressure and swallow to re-position them.

If any of these problems persist, consult your dentist.

Care of Your Dentures

The most effective way to care for your dentures is to keep them and the rest of your mouth clean and free of food debris that can become trapped and cause bacterial infections to form. While rinsing out your mouth and your appliance after every meal will help, knowing how to properly clean them in the morning and the evening is essential. 

First, whether or not you have a full or partial appliance, purchase a brush specifically designed for dentures in addition to your regular toothbrush. Avoid brushes with hard bristles that can damage the appliance. Second, find a denture specific cleanser with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. However, mild castile soap will do and those with mint will help you feel fresh without having to use regular toothpaste which will most likely be too abrasive.

To brush your dentures:

  1. 1. Stand over a folded towel or a sink of water to avoid damage if you accidentally drop it while brushing.
  2. 2. Brush your teeth with your regular toothbrush and toothpaste. Even with complete dentures, brush your gums, tongue, and palate with a toothbrush to stimulate blood flow and remove bacteria.
  3. 3. Pay special attention to cleaning any clasps if you have them.
  4. 4. Use the denture cleaner and special soft-bristled brush to clean in circular motions around the entire appliance.
  5. 5. Rinse before putting back into your mouth. If you are able to remove your dentures at night, allow them to soak in water or mild denture-soaking solution so they don’t dry out or lose their shape.
  6. Even with regular maintenance, it is still important to schedule regular visits to the dentist for adjustments and professional cleanings.

    Adjusting your Dentures

    Over time, our mouths go through many natural changes. Gum lines shift and bones may shrink, so your dentures will require adjustments as you age. Poorly fitting dentures can result in sores or infections and do-it-yourself adjustment kits can cause irreparable damage to the appliance. So, it’s important to see your dentist if it no longer fits, breaks, cracks, chips, or if one of the teeth is loose. More often than not, the dentist can make the necessary repairs in the same day. However, more complicated things like relining or rebasing may require lab work.

    Denture adhesives

    While they are not the solution for old or ill-fitting dentures, denture adhesives help provide additional retention for your appliance. A poorly fitting denture causes constant irritation due to friction against your gums and soft tissues, which can eventually lead to the development of sores. If your appliance ever feels loose or causes a large amount of discomfort, consult your dentist. However, it should be noted that over-the-counter denture glues are often filled with harmful chemicals and should be avoided.

Flossing

Flossing is the act of taking a very thin piece of synthetic cord and threading it between your teeth in an up and down motion. According to the ADA, flossing is the single most important weapon in the fight against cavity and periodontal (gum) disease. Daily flossing helps you remove the bacteria between your teeth that can’t be reached by your toothbrush. Like brushing, it should take about three minutes to cover your entire mouth.

Flossing Methods:

  1. 1. Take a piece of floss about 18 inches in length. It may seem like a lot, but you should use a clean segment each time you move from tooth to tooth.
  2. 2. Wind most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand and the rest on the middle finger of another. The one with less will take up the floss as it becomes used.
  3. 3. Gently slide the floss between your teeth using your index fingers and thumbs. While some areas may be difficult to maneuver the floss into, never pop or snap the floss between teeth.
  4. 4. Once it’s between your teeth, move it up and down and around each tooth in a “C” shape by gently scraping each side of the tooth with floss. Also, be sure to move below the gum line, where most bacteria collects.

Types of Floss:

Dental floss comes in a variety of colors, materials, and flavors. While waxed and unwaxed floss have no difference in the level of effectiveness, waxed floss is often easier to use and unwaxed will squeak against a clean tooth. Floss can be purchased in self-dispensing boxes, or in one use floss picks. Floss picks are a popular option due to the ease of use. However, there are certain angles that only regular floss can reach toward the back of your mouth. For those with larger spaces between their teeth (usually comes with bridge work), a material called dental tape could be more effective than regular floss.

Brushing Your Teeth

While flossing is critical, brushing your teeth is also a vital piece of maintaining proper oral health. Regular brushing removes debris and cavity forming bacteria from your teeth and gums. While most dentists agree that brushing for two minutes, two times a day with a fluoride toothpaste will do, it is helpful to do a light brushing without toothpaste after lunch.

How to Brush:

  1. 1. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a size/shape that easily fits into your mouth, allowing you to reach all areas.
  2. 2. Use an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste.
  3. 3. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and gently brush two or three teeth at a time in small circles. Gradually move around your entire mouth.
  4. 4. Be sure to brush all surfaces of your teeth – front, back, and top.
  5. 5. Clean your tongue, gums, the floor, and the roof of your mouth. These areas are all prone to bacteria buildup that causes cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

Choosing a Tooth Brush

W With so many types of manual toothbrushes to choose from, keep these two key things in mind to make the decision-making process much easier: look for a small brush head with soft, rounded bristles and a comfortable, easy to grip handle.

While having a manual toothbrush is by far the less expensive option, our office highly recommends investing in a mechanical (electric) one. The pulsations aid in breaking up plaque and most have built-in timers that help keep you brushing for the full two to three minutes.

Whichever you choose, replace it when the bristles begin to fray as they are far less effective. Remembering to change your toothbrush every three to four months is a large part of keeping your dental hygiene in check, as studies show 30% more plaque is removed with a new one than one that has hit the three-month mark.

Water Picks

While flossing is a necessary part of maintaining oral hygiene, it can be difficult for many to reach certain areas of the mouth or even hold the floss. For example, some people with sensitive gums experience too much pain, and those with orthodontia have an extra hard time reaching. Water picks deliver an alternative, more user-friendly method. Water picks use a small yet powerful stream of water to blast away food and other debris in your mouth. Dentists use professional-grade picks when preparing for surgery and during cleanings or exams

Mouth Guards

When it comes to playing sports, there is a significant risk of suffering an injury to your face, and more specifically, your mouth. No matter the game, they all have their own dangers, so it’s best to wear a mouth guard. Like a helmet protects your head, a mouth guard, also known as a mouth protector, wraps a soft rubber cushion around your teeth. It helps absorb a blow to the face, thus minimizing the damage done to teeth, lips, tongue, and jaw. This is especially true for those with braces or fixed bridge work that could more easily puncture the soft tissues of the cheek or mouth. Most only cover the upper teeth, but there are some available that cover both.

Types of mouth guards:

Stock: This refers to a pre-formed piece that is sold ready-to-use. While they don’t offer the best fit or protection, they are the least expensive option.

Boil and bite: The most-used type of sports protection, boil and bites are softened in water and then placed over the wearer’s teeth and gums to place and contour as it cools. While it is still not as effective as a custom mouth guard, it offers more protection than a stock one. However, certain areas can get thinned out in the forming process, thus compromising its effectiveness. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

Custom-fitted: While they are the most expensive option, custom-fitted mouth guards offer the most protection. They are made by your dentist from an impression and the finished product is sent to you in about a week or two. We do not recommend using at home kits or mail-in services as there are large margins of error associated with anyone but a professional creating your mouth guard.

Mouth Rinses

Mouthwash is often seen as a common addition to any dental hygiene routine. However, some mouthwashes only treat bad breath and not the bacteria that causes it. The Food and Drug Administration classifies mouth rinses into two different categories: cosmetic and therapeutic.

Therapeutic rinses focus on plaque and bacteria with fluoride. Cosmetic rinses simply mask the bacteria causing bad breath. The best way to tell the difference is to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the bottle. If it’s not there, you may be purchasing something purely cosmetic.

People who face challenges brushing can benefit from a therapeutic mouth rinse to help boost the amount of fluoride they receive during their hygiene routine. However, nothing replaces the importance of good brushing and flossing.