Dental expert: No substitute for old-fashioned brushing and flossing

By September 12, 2011 January 2nd, 2020 No Comments

Q: What should a person’s dental hygiene routine include each day?

A: If you are a parent, I’d say be sure to brush your child’s teeth until they are 8 years old, because they really don’t have the coordination to be able to do it thoroughly by themselves until then. Brush for two minutes in the morning before school, and in the evening before bed. The times and length of time go for adults too, and we all know it’s so easy when you’ve had a long day and are already in bed reading, to just turn the light out and go to sleep without brushing. You can always go by the feel of your teeth during the day, too, if they feel fuzzy or furry, brush them thoroughly until they feel slick and slippery. Another trick is to just spit out the fluoridated toothpaste instead of rinsing it out, and let the fluoride stay on the teeth a little longer, which will help strengthen the enamel. Parents can model good brushing to their children, and have the child practice brushing in their mouth, while watching the parents brush their own teeth. There are also inexpensive battery operated brushes that children enjoy to make brushing more fun.

Q: If you are in a situation where you can’t brush your teeth after eating, what should you do? Does chewing sugar-free gum help?

A: Yes, chewing sugar-free gum can help especially if you have food stuck on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Drinking water can rinse out particles. We teach children to go to the drinking fountain and swish the water around and then swallow it. And adding carrots, celery or apples to a child’s lunchbox can help clean the teeth off after eating also by the friction on the teeth and the crunchiness.

Q. Do electric toothbrushes work better than the old-fashioned kind? Is the difference enough to justify the extra expense?

A: Yes, the benefit of an electric toothbrush is that you just hold it in place and let it do the work vibrating the toothpaste between the teeth and the food and plaque off. However, just like manual (hand) brushing, you have to place the bristles at the gum line where they will create the best result, and with children, we use the “scrub brush” technique which is just scrubbing all over the teeth and making sure every tooth is cleaned. Also, you have to actually do the work with either type of brush — it doesn’t do any good sitting on the sink or in the closet. One helpful hint is to only use a tiny pea sized bit of paste on the brush for an adult, and just a smear of toothpaste on a child’s brush.

I have bought many different kinds of electric toothbrushes for family members over the years, and everyone likes something different. I go between a manual toothbrush and an electric toothbrush, so I think it’s just personal preference. If your dental professional tells you that you need to do a better job brushing, an electric toothbrush might help.

Q:. Why is flossing important? Is using mouthwash a substitute for people who don’t like it?

A: Flossing is important to be able to…read more

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