Oral Hygiene

How to Brush

Hand Held Brushing: While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, 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. Use some pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort. 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. To do this, use 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 might have loosened while brushing.

Electric toothbrushes: Power assisted brushing with a round headed brush has recently been shown to be more efficient per unit of time spent cleaning than hand held brushing. Many power assisted brushes are available but the Braun/Oral B range of brushes available in Australia seem to provide a good basic unit to use. Place the edge of the brush against the tooth with the bristles at the gum line on the outer aspect of the last back tooth. Then move the brush along your teeth keeping the bristles at the gum margin. Do this methodically so that you do not miss any areas. The brush is doing all the work all you have to do is hold it in the area for long enough to clean the area. Most power assisted brushes have 2 minute timers which indicate to you that you have spent enough time cleaning.

If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to consult us.

Interproximal Cleaning

Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. In Australia, most people brush their teeth well but do not clean in between their teeth as well as they could.

Interproximal brushing with any of the available brushes is the most efficient method of interproximal cleaning. These brushes come in multiple different sizes and most people will need more than one size to clean between their teeth. The appropriate size to use is one that feels slightly snug going through the gap but does not hurt. If in doubt, check with us. Several brushing strokes between each tooth should be sufficient to remove the plaque. Dr Hinckfuss has recently designed his own range of interdental brushes for the convenience of our patients and you will be supplied with these free of charge when you attend our practice. Further information about interdental brushes is available on www.oralis360.com.au.  TePe interdental brushes and Pikster interdental brushes are other commonly available brands. Some patients have a preference for a particular style so you may want to try them all and see what feels best for you. 

Flossing is not as effective as interproximal brushes but is the best alternative when cleaning interproximal spaces which are small. It is best to use inter proximal brushes in the spaces that you can fit them and then use floss in all other areas. You may find monofilament waxed floss such as Colgate Total waxed floss the most user friendly.

Superfloss and similar flosses: These flosses have inbuilt brushes which can be used by pulling the thin non-brush part though the interproximal contact and then pulling the brush part though between the teeth. This acts in a similar manner to that of an interproximal brush. 

Thin floss: 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 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 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 forefinger 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 doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.

Caring For Sensitive Teeth

Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. If the mouth is kept clean, this sensation should not last long. However, if the mouth is not kept clean, , the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive, consult with Drs. Hinckfuss, McGregor, Mitchell, Chin. A medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth may be recommended.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

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

  • Automatic and “high-tech” power assisted toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of users. Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but will not remove plaque effectively. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator.  The WaterPik is an excellent irrigator and mandatory for all patients that have had full mouth implant rehabilitation.
  • Electric toothbrushes are excellent and if you like their feel go for it! If you don’t like them, don’t worry as the normal old fashioned toothbrush works very well if used appropriately and for at least two minutes.
  • If used in conjunction with brushing, interproximal brushing and flossing, fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40 percent. For children, consult your dentist or a specialist Paediatric dentist for the optimal fluoride preventive program as it will depend on your child’s age and decay risk profile.
  • Mouthwashes and rinses are not a substitute for physical cleaning between your teeth with inter proximal brushes or floss. If you feel you need to use a mouthwash, avoid ones that contain alcohol. Curasept 0.05% mouthwash is a good mouthwash for periodontal patients.

Drs. Hinckfuss, McGregor, Mitchell, Chin are the best people to help you select the right products that are best for you.