Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth is a seriously important, yet seriously overlooked, part of your daily dental hygiene. Many people simply go through the motions when brushing and end up paying for it later. Here are some tips for giving your teeth the proper treatment they deserve.

Your toothbrush should be soft bristled; bristles that are too stiff can cause your gums to recede and damage the enamel. Apply a small amount of fluoride toothpaste and get to it.

When brushing the surfaces of the teeth, the toothbrush should be positioned at a 45-degree angle where your teeth and gums meet. Move the toothbrush gently in circular motions using small strokes. These circular motions should overlap so that every portion of every tooth is covered. This pattern forces out food debris and plaque from under the gum line. For the insides of your teeth, your angle will become more vertical. Again, be sure to overlap and hit every bit of surface area. Then brush the roof of your mouth and your tongue… and your gums, gently.

Once you are done, rinse your mouth vigorously to get rid of plaque and food debris that were loosened during brushing. Rinse your toothbrush, too, and be sure to store it in a place it can air dry before your next brushing.

How long should you brush? Two full minutes — think of it as 30 seconds for each quarter. Three times a day is the right amount, but not more than that.

If you feel any pain when brushing or see excessive bleeding, be sure to alert us to the problem areas.


Periodontal disease typically occurs in places that cannot be reached by your toothbrush. Plaque in these surfaces can be removed by flossing regularly. However, it is important to floss the right way. Here’s how.

You need a piece of floss that is about 18 inches long. Wrap the majority of the floss around your middle finger and the rest on the opposite middle finger. With the floss held tightly between your thumb and forefinger, start cleaning your upper teeth. Start with the back of the farthest tooth back in your mouth, then floss into every gap between your teeth on both the upper and lower teeth, hitting both sides of the teeth forming the gap and going just below the gumline. Flossing should take about one minute.

Once you are finished, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water to remove excess plaque and food debris. It is normal for the gums to bleed slightly occasionally, especially if you have missed a few days.

Dental care for sensitive teeth

A dental treatment may sometimes leave teeth more sensitive to hot or cold temperatures. This shouldn’t last very long if you practice good oral hygiene — sensitivity can be exacerbated by not keeping your teeth clean. If the sensitivity continues, seek your dentist’s advice. You may be advised to switch to a medicated toothpaste or a special mouth rinse that treats sensitive teeth.

Choosing products for Oral Hygiene

There are a dizzying number of oral hygiene products out there. It can be confusing knowing which products to choose. Here are some basic suggestions:

  • An electronic toothbrush generally works safely and effectively for most people. There are oral irrigators (devices that spray a concentrated stream of water) that can thoroughly rinse your mouth, yet they do little to remove plaque. You can use the irrigator in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
  • Some toothbrushes have rubber-tipped handles. You may use this part to massage your gums after brushing. Some toothbrushes also have interproximal brushes or tiny brushes that are designed to clean the areas in between the teeth. But these small brushes tend to be used incorrectly and can damage the gums, so it is best to avoid their use.
  • When brushing and flossing are done with the use of fluoride toothpastes or rinses, you can reduce your chances of tooth decay by up to 40 percent. Tartar-control toothpastes are designed to reduce tartar found above your gum line, but they don’t treat the early stages of gum disease because its symptoms occur below the gum line.
  • You may use American Dental Association-approved anti-plaque rinses, which contain special agents that may control early gum disease and its symptoms. These products are not a substitute for brushing and flossing, though.
  • If you have any questions about products, ask us.

Professional Cleaning

Proper daily flossing and brushing are absolutely critical to good oral health, but they don’t mitigate the need for twice yearly professional cleanings and checkups. Removing built-up plaque/tartar and other food debris can only be done professionally. Also, this is where any problems such as decay or issues with your gums can be caught early, before they create havoc. Your periodontist can provide you with an effective program that can help prevent gum disease and keep your teeth healthy for the rest of your life.

Ready to schedule an appointment?

For more information about Lakeshore Periodontics & Dental Implants or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sweeney, call our office at Lakeshore Periodontics & Dental Implants Phone Number 586-777-0260.