Maintaining Oral Health

Dental Education Library

Welcome to our dental education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a dental examination or consultation, or dental advice given to you by a physician or dental professional.

How to Brush Your Teeth

Brush after meals, using a soft brush and a fluoride toothpaste. Start at one place and work all the way around your mouth. Brush the front, back, and top of each tooth as shown below. Proper brushing should take about 2-3 minutes.

Four Easy Steps to Brushing Your Teeth

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Step – 1

  • Hold the brush at a 45° angle at the gumline.
  • Gently brush the outer surfaces, using a circular motion. Don’t scrub or use a lot of pressure.

 

 

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Step – 2

  • Brush the inner surfaces of the back teeth.
  • Use the same circular motion.

 

 

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Step – 3

  • Turn the brush and use the tip to clean the inner surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth.

 

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Step – 4

  • Clean the chewing surfaces using a scrubbing motion.
  • Brush your tongue.
  • Rinse well.

Why Brush?

Brushing every day will help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Having clean teeth also makes you look and feel better. Your breath is fresher. Your smile is brighter. And your teeth feel smooth.

Fighting Plaque

Many kinds of bacteria live in your mouth. These germs collect on your teeth and gums and quickly form a sticky film called plaque. Plaque is the major cause of tooth decay and gum disease. Since plaque is always forming, it needs to be removed every day. Brushing removes plaque from tooth surfaces and around the gumline. Flossing breaks up plaque between teeth and under gums.

How to Floss Your Teeth

Floss at least once a day to remove plaque between the teeth and below the gums. Start at one place and work all the way around your mouth. Floss between each tooth as shown below.

Three Easy Steps to Flossing Your Teeth

 

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1.

  • Wrap 18 inches of floss around your middle fingers.
  • Secure it with your index fingers and thumbs.

 

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2.

  • Ease the floss between your teeth.
  • Press it against one side, then the other, to form a C-shape.

 

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3.

  • Gently work the floss up and down.
  • Make sure you go below the gum line where plaque collects.
  • Go back to step 2 and do the other side of the tooth.

 

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NOTE:

If you have a bridge or wear braces, use a floss threader to get the floss under the bridge or the wires.

Why Floss?

Flossing every day will help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Having clean teeth also makes you look and feel better. Your breath is fresher. Your smile is brighter. And your teeth feel smooth.

Fighting Plaque

Many kinds of bacteria live in your mouth. These germs collect on your teeth and gums and quickly form a sticky film called plaque. Plaque is the major cause of tooth decay and gum disease. Since plaque is always forming, it needs to be removed every day. Brushing removes plaque from tooth surfaces and around the gumline. Flossing breaks up plaque between teeth and under gums.

Self-Care for Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

You have temporomandibular disorder (TMD). This term describes a group of problems related to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and nearby muscles. The TMJ is located where the upper and lower jaws meet. Treatment will get your jaw back to normal function. But your care doesn’t end there. Once you’ve had TMD, it’s important to avoid reinjury. Get in the habit of doing self-checks. This can make you aware of any symptoms that begin to recur, so you can take action right away.

 

Using proper posture and doing self-checks can limit TMD symptoms.

Doing Self-Checks

Make it a habit to assess your body a few times each day. Try writing yourself a reminder. Or set an alarm on your watch or computer. When doing a self-check, ask yourself:

  • Do I feel stressed?
  • Are my muscles tense?
  • Am I grinding or clenching my teeth?
  • Is my posture healthy for my body?
  • Is there anything I can do to make myself more comfortable?

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions above, you need to take action. Adjusting your posture or taking a short break can help prevent or relieve TMD symptoms.

Listening to Your Body

Many people get used to ignoring pain. But pain is a signal that your body needs care. To maintain your TMJ health:

  • Avoid hard or chewy foods. Even if you feel fine, eating such foods can triggers symptoms again.
  • Be aware of your body. Don’t ignore TMD symptoms. The nagging pain in your neck or jaw may indicate that you need care.
  • Be sure to keep follow-up appointments with your healthcare team.

Managing Stress

Stress is a key factor in TMD. Stress can cause you to clench your muscles or grind your teeth. It can also affect your sleep, reducing your body’s ability to heal. Here are a few tips to manage stress:

  • Learn ways to relax. Try listening to music or gently stretching. Take a few slow deep breaths. Or, close your eyes and imagine a place or object that is calming.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.
  • Set goals you know you can attain.
  • Make time for people and things you enjoy.
  • Ask for help if you need it. Friends and family can run errands and cook meals for you. They can also join you for walks or other types of exercise.

Staying Active

Activity helps the body in many ways. You stay looser and more relaxed. It also helps keep muscles and tissues conditioned. That way you can heal faster and make reinjury less likely. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.
  • Always warm up and stretch before each activity. This helps prevent injury.
  • Try walking or swimming. These activities are easy on your joints. They also benefit your heart and lungs.
  • Try yoga or tai chi. These are relaxing activities known for reducing stress.
Understanding Healthy Teeth and Gums

When you look at your mouth in the mirror, you can see hard white teeth surrounded by soft gums. What you likely can’t see is a sticky coating of bacteria and other substances on your teeth and gums. This coating, called plaque, can harm your mouth if it’s not kept under control.

 

 

Healthy Teeth and Gums

To have good oral health, you must have healthy teeth and gums.

  • Teeth are made of hard tissue designed to break up food. Healthy teeth can be various shades of white (some staining on the teeth is normal). Teeth are set into the supporting bone of the jaw.
  • Gums are soft tissues that cover bone and part of each tooth. The color of your gums depends on your ethnicity. But, your gums should be the same color throughout your mouth.

When Plaque and Tartar Form

Even in a healthy mouth, plaque forms. If not cleared away with daily brushing and flossing, this sticky film coats the teeth, gums, and tongue.

  • As saliva and the tongue move in the mouth, some plaque is wiped off the tooth surfaces. But plaque can collect in the grooves of the teeth, between teeth, and at the gumline.
  • Plaque bacteria feed on bits of sugary and starchy foods left in your mouth after you eat. This results in acid, the main cause of tooth decay.
  • If not removed, plaque hardens into tartar (also called calculus). Tartar can spread below the gumline, where it damages the gums and bone.

Are You At Risk?

Some factors make you more likely to have problems with your teeth and gums. These include:

  • Not taking good care of your teeth and gums.
  • A low amount of saliva in the mouth, which allows plaque to collect.
  • Smoking, which makes your body less able to fight infections such as gum disease. Smoking also reduces the amount of saliva in your mouth.
  • Eating a lot of sugary and starchy foods, which causes more acid to form.
  • Frequent snacking, which lets acid form more often.
  • Crooked teeth, which can be harder to clean.
Your Mouth: Keeping It Healthy

Have you ever thought about how much you use your mouth? Without it, you couldn’t talk with your friends, enjoy your food, or even laugh at a joke. Do you care for your hardworking mouth as well as you should? If not, tooth decay and gum disease could be putting your smile in danger. Take control now to keep your mouth healthy.

 

Benefits of a Healthy Mouth

Taking care of your teeth and gums can help you feel confident about your smile.

Why bother caring for your teeth and gums? For one thing, what goes on in your mouth can affect the rest of your body. Poor oral health is linked to problems such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. But that’s not all. If you’re pregnant, caring for your teeth and gums can help ensure your baby is born on time and healthy. Good oral health can also:

  • Help you chew and digest your food.
  • Keep your mouth comfortable and pain free.
  • Help you speak clearly.
  • Keep your breath fresh.
  • Keep you looking and feeling good. And when you feel good about your mouth, you’re more likely to smile!

Your Oral Health

At dental visits, you will be asked about signs of problems. Before your visit, think about the answers to these questions:

  • Are your teeth sensitive to heat or cold?
  • Do your teeth hurt if you have sweet foods or drinks?
  • Has the way you bite down changed?
  • Do you feel pain when you bite down?
  • Do any of your teeth feel loose?
  • Do you have bad breath?
  • Are your gums swollen, puffy, or sore?
  • Do your gums bleed when you floss or brush?
  • Has the color of your gums changed?
  • Have your gums pulled back from your teeth?
  • Are you happy with your smile?
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