In my previous blog, I discussed head size and bristle stiffness of toothbrushes. Toothbrushes can come in a variety of shapes. It can be helpful to have the type that has rounded bristles. Most bristles are made of nylon so they don’t soften when they gets wet like the natural bristles do. Mom always told us to go into the bathroom and scrub our teeth real hard and thorough. Brushing thoroughly is important. Brushing hard was fine for the old days when the natural bristles would soften in saliva, but since the nylon bristles don’t soften, we must be very judicious in the amount of pressure that we use. Only the tips of the bristles do the cleaning work, so a toothbrush whose bristles are all bent and frayed is ready for the trash can or the household cleaning bucket. Another important aspect of choosing a toothbrush is to look for the American Dental Association seal of approval. The ADA puts dental products through stringent, independent testing to make sure that a manufacturer’s claims are valid. This way, you can be sure that whatever it says on the packaging has been verified and is safe for you and your family to use.
Toothbrushing is a vital part of daily oral hygiene to help prevent cavities and gum disease. Choosing the toothbrush that is right for you is an important part of the process. Toothbrushes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. Head size is important to make sure that all areas of the mouth are accessible. The larger the head of a toothbrush, the more efficient it will be in cleaning the teeth. However, trying to get the sides of the upper molars can be a challenge for some. When you open your mouth wide, the coronoid process of the jaw bone will drop down right next to the upper molars making it a very tight fit. By closing the mouth halfway and moving the jaw to the side will many times allow enough room to get a brush with a bigger head all of the way back into the mouth. The bristles should be no firmer than the “soft” variety. Plaque is actually not that difficult to remove, so a medium or hard brush is not necessary. Use of too stiff a brush can cause damage to the tooth enamel and the gums which can necessitate fillings and gum grafts.
Flossing you teeth on a daily basis is just as important as toothbrushing. To floss, you need to saw the strand of floss between the teeth, then scrub the tooth surfaces to remove the sticky dental plaque. To manipulate the floss, for the upper teeth, I like to wrap the floss around my index fingers then use my thumbs to do the scrubbing. For the lower, again I like to wrap the floss around my index fingers, but I will manipulate the the floss with my middle fingers. It is important to keep the thumbs (for the upper) and middle fingers (for the lower) very close to the teeth that you are cleaning. That way, the proper pressure can be applied in the correct direction in order to do an efficient job of plaque removal. If the fingers aren’t close enough to the teeth, then you will move a lot of floss and do very little work. As far as type of floss, either waxed or unwaxed are fine. It is just a matter of personal preference. If properly used, both do an adequate job. For those who have difficulty reaching their hands into the back of the mouth, there are little floss picks that are readily available at grocery stores and pharmacies that make it much easier to access and clean the molar teeth.