Oral Hygiene Aid – Silver Spring, MD

Regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining excellent oral hygiene & diagnosing potential problems, but they are not a “fix-all” solution. Thorough oral homecare routines should be practiced on a daily basis to avoid future dental problems.

Periodontal disease (also called gum disease & periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss in the developed world, & is completely preventable in the vast majority of cases. Professional cleanings twice a year combined with daily self-cleaning can remove a high percentage of disease-causing bacteria & plaque. In addition, teeth that are well cared for make for a sparkling white smile.

There are numerous types of oral hygiene aids on the supermarket shelves, it can be difficult to determine which will provide the best benefit to your teeth.

Here are some of the most common oral hygiene aids for homecare:

Dental Flosses

Dental floss is the most common interdental & subgingival (below the gum) cleaner & comes in a variety of types & flavors. The floss itself is made from either thin nylon filaments or polyethylene ribbons, & can help remove food particles & plaque from between the teeth. Vigorous flossing with a floss holder can cause soft tissue damage & bleeding, so great care should be taken. Floss should normally be used twice daily after brushing.

Interdental Cleaners

Many hygienist & periodontists recommend interdental brushes in addition to dental floss. These tiny brushes are gentle on the gums & very effective in cleaning the contours of teeth in between the gums. Interdental brushes come in various shapes & sizes.

Mouth Rinses

There are two basic types of mouth rinse available:
Cosmetic rinses which are sold over the counter & temporarily suppress bad breath, & therapeutic rinses which may or may not require a prescription. Most dentists are skeptical about the benefits of cosmetic rinses because several studies have shown that their effectiveness against plaque is minimal. Therapeutic rinses however, are regulated by the FDA & contain active ingredients that can help reduce bad breath, plaque, & cavities. Mouth rinses should generally be used after brushing.

Oral Irrigators

Oral irrigators, like Water Jets & Waterpiks, have been created to clean debris from below the gum line. Water is continuously sprayed from tiny jets into the gum pockets which can help remove harmful bacteria & food particles. Overall, oral irrigators have proven effective in lowering the risk of gum disease & should not be used instead of brushing & flossing. Professional cleanings are recommended at least twice annually to remove deeper debris.

Rubber Tip Stimulators

The rubber tip stimulator is an excellent tool for removing plaque from around the gum line & also for stimulating blood flow to the gums. The rubber tip stimulator should be traced gently along the outer & inner gum line at least once each day. Any plaque on the tip can be rinsed off with tap water. It is important to replace the tip as soon as it starts to appear worn, & to store the stimulator in a cool, dry place.

Tongue Cleaners

Tongue cleaners are special devices which have been designed to remove the buildup of bacteria, fungi & food debris from the tongue surface. The fungi & bacteria that colonize on the tongue have been related to halitosis (bad breath)a great many systemic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease & stroke. Tongue cleaners can be made from metal, wood or plastic & shaped in accordance with the contours of the tongue. Tongue cleaning should be done prior to brushing to prevent the ingestion of fungi & bacteria.

Toothbrushes

There are a great many toothbrush types available. Electric toothbrushes are generally recommended by dentists because electric brushes are much more effective than manual brushes. The vibrating or rotary motion helps to easily dislodge plaque & remove food particles from around the gums & teeth. The same results can be obtained using a manual brush, but much more effort is needed to do so.

Manual toothbrushes should be replaced every three months because worn bristles become ineffective over time. Soft bristle toothbrushes are far less damaging to gum tissue than the medium & hard bristle varieties. In addition, an appropriate sized ADA approved toothbrush should be chosen to allow proper cleaning to all the teeth. Teeth should ideally be brushed after each meal, or minimally twice each day.