ACCESSIBILITY Accessibility
Cleanings & Prevention
Oral Hygiene Aids

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

Periodontal disease (also called gum disease and periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss in the developed world and 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 and plaque. In addition, teeth that are well cared for make a confident smile.

There are numerous types of oral hygiene aids on the supermarket shelves and 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 Floss

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

Interdental Cleaners

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

Mouth Rinses

There are two basic types of mouth rinse available. Cosmetic rinses are sold over the counter and temporarily suppress bad breath.  Therapeutic rinses may or may not require a prescription.  Therapeutic rinses contain active ingredients that can help reduce bad breath, plaque and cavities.  Mouth rinses should generally be used after brushing.

Oral Irrigators

Oral irrigators, like 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 and food particles. Overall, oral irrigators have proven effective in lowering the risk of gum disease and should not be used instead of brushing and 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 and also for stimulating blood flow to the gums. The rubber tip stimulator should be traced gently along the outer and 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 and to store the stimulator in a cool, dry place.

Toothbrushes

There are a great many toothbrush types available. Powered toothbrushes are generally recommended by dentists because powered brushes are much more effective than manual brushes. The vibrating or rotary motion helps to easily dislodge plaque and remove food particles from around the gums and teeth.  Toothbrushes or powered toothbrush heads should be replaced every three months because worn bristles become ineffective over time. Soft bristle toothbrushes are far less damaging to gum tissue, so I do not recommend using medium or 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.

If you have any questions about oral hygiene aids, please ask Dr. Rice or her dental hygienist.