Oral Hygiene


How to Brush Your Teeth

While you brush, position the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle right where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times in small, gentle strokes. Make sure to use some pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much that discomfort is felt.

When you are finished cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the back surfaces as well. Hold the toothbrush vertically to clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth. Be sure to gently brush the surrounding gum tissues as well!

Lastly, clean the biting surfaces of your teeth. To do so, use short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the toothbrush as often as necessary to reach all surfaces. If you have any difficulties, try watching yourself in the mirror.

Once you are finished brushing your teeth, rinse your mouth vigerously to remove any plaque you may have loosened.

If you have any pain while brushing, or have questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to contact our office.

How to Floss Your Teeth

Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach. This is why flossing is such an effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, you should make sure you develop the proper technique.

Begin with a piece of floss (waxed makes things easier) that is between 16" and 18" long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand, and wrap the rest of it around the middle finger of the other hand.

Starting with your upper teeth, hold the floss tight between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Insert the floss between your teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss! Bring it to the gum line, 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 that side.

Remember there are two tooth surfaces to be cleaned in each space! Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful to not cut the gum tissue.

As the floss becomes soiled, wrap the dirty floss around one finger while providing clean floss from the other hand. To clean the lower teeth, use the forefingers of your hands to guide the floss downward.

When done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Don't be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums are sore, or if they bleed a little. If they hurt while flossing, you may be doing it too hard or pinching the gum tissue in places. As you floss daily and remove the plaque, your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.

Caring for Sensitive Teeth

Once in a while after a dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. If the mouth is kept clean, this sensation should not last long. However, if a person doesn't have proper home care, the sensitivity may remain, and could become more severe.

If your teeth are sensitive and have been for a while, you should schedule a consult with Dr. Cristoforo. A medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made for sensitive teeth may be recommended.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

There are so many products on the market now that choosing the right one can be difficult. Some suggestions for selecting dental care products that will work well for most patients:

  • Electric toothbrushes that are automatic and "high-tech" are safe and effective for most users. We see excellent results with the Braun Oral B as well as the Sonicare.
  • Oral irrigators (water spraying flossers) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but do not remove plaque, meaning you need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator.
  • Some manual toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle that is used to massage the gums, or have tiny brushes that clean in between teeth. These are recommended, however, can be easy to misuse, so a consult with Dr. Cristoforo is recommended/
  • Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40 percent. Although they are not for use with children under six years old, for older children and adults, they should be used in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
  • Tartar control toothpastes are not recommended often, as gum disease starts below the gum line, and these will only remove tartar above the gums. These products have not been proven to reduce the early stages of gum diesase.
  • Anti-plaque rinses, which are approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help control signs of early gum disease. These must be used in conjunction with brushing and flossing.

Dr. Cristoforo or our dental hygienists will be happy to help you select any products that are right for you.