Oral Hygiene

Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. There are numerous disease entities requiring different treatment approaches. The bacteria in dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Daily brushing and flossing will prevent most periodontal conditions.


Why is oral hygiene so important?

Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is with good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily.

Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacteria in dental plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth.  If not carefully removed by daily brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). 

Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Clenching and grinding teeth
  • Medication
  • Poor nutrition

Periodontal Disease

Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins or poisons that irritate the gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that hold teeth in place begin to deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. 


Preventing Gum Disease

The best way to prevent gum disease is effective daily brushing and flossing as well as regular professional dental examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent dental home care, people can still develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progression.


How to Brush

 Heaton & Fisch Dental Associates recommends using a soft tooth brush. Position the brush at a 45 degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth. When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.

To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don't forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.

Next you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth by using short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you will have loosened while brushing.
It is very important to brush the top surface of your tongue. Your tongue harbors many of the same bacteria as your teeth. You can use the bristles of your toothbrush to effectively clean your tongue.

If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office at (802) 775-5286.


How to Floss

Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember it takes time and practice.

Start with a piece of floss (waxed is easier) about 18" long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand.

To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to place. Bring the floss to the gumline then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.

To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefingers of both hands. Do not forget the back side of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.

When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be flossing too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque, your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.
We encourage our patients who have a difficult time reaching all of thier teeth using traditional flossing techniques to use the Reach Access Flosser. We have found great success with the use of this floss holder. With its straight handle it is easier than some of the other floss aids that are on the market. We have also found an increase in patient compliance with this floss holder. This product can be found at most all drug stores and grocery stores.


Caring for Sensitive Teeth

Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long, but if the mouth is not kept clean the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive consult with your doctor. They may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.


Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

There are so many oral hygiene products on the market that choosing between all the products can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.

Power toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of the patients. We see excellent results with the Sonicare brand power toothbrush and recommend them whole heartedly. Sonicare toothbrushes have been clinically proven to help reduce gingivitis. In conjunction with brushing and flossing, a water pik may be an added component to your daily oral hygiene routine.
Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses, if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40%. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children who cannot actively expectorate on their own. We also routinely recommend ACT brand fluoride rinse before bed. Thorough removal of all plaque needs to be done prior to rinsing with ACT. Bed time is the best time to use ACT because you cannot eat, drink, or rinse your mouth for at least 30 minutes after. By not eating, drinking or rinsing you will maximize the uptake of fluoride into the tooth structure.
Tartar control toothpastes will reduce tartar above the gum line by inhibiting the calcification of the plaque.
Another product we have had great success with is MI Paste. This can only be obtained through a dental office. The active ingredient is Recaldant, which is a milk-based product and has been shown to recalcify enamel. We have had patients with the beginning stages of a cavity apply this paste daily, and as a result, have reversed their cavity and no longer need a filling. This paste is also great for patients with cold sensitivity and white spots on their teeth.


Professional Cleaning

Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental tartar to a minimum, but a professional cleaning will remove tartar in places your toothbrush and floss have missed or cannot reach. Your recare visit to our office is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease. We will tailor your oral needs to a recare schedule that best suits the future of your oral health and to keep your teeth for your lifetime. We have patients that are on recare schedules from every two months to every twelve months. Not all patients are the same, therefore not all recare lengths are the same. We would be happy to assist you in determining what recare length would be best for you.