A new year brings with it new hope, optimism, and motivation to improve; after 2021 we could all use some of that. Many people choose to focus on their health at this time of year, aiming to exercise or partake in a specific diet, but if you are not focusing on your oral health too, you could be missing out on an important part of your wellbeing. Fortunately, there are many dental health tips that can help enhance your oral care routine in the new year, a few of these will be explored below.
•Refresh your technique
Most people are well aware that brushing should be done twice daily, but what they fail to do is to pay attention to their brushing technique. Like any activity carried out daily, brushing has probably become automatic, making it possible for our standards to slip. By implementing the wrong amount of pressure or angle, the whole cleaning procedure loses its effectiveness and potentially can cause more harm than good. The more attention you pay when brushing your teeth, the more of the teeth surface you will cover and the more effectively you can remove food and plaque from the teeth. To improve your technique, it is important to remember the following:
-Brush your teeth for two full minutes, twice a day
-Use a gentle circular motion at a 45-degree angle
-Don’t forget to brush gently along the gum line
It is now becoming more widely known that brushing alone is not enough to remove all the plaque and food debris from in between the teeth, failing to reach around 40% of the teeth’s surface area. When left untreated, this plaque can build up and turn into hardened tartar, potentially leading to gum disease, tooth erosion or decay.
Despite this, many people still do not typically floss, often neglecting this habit as they simply cannot see any food or plaque in between their teeth. However, it is important to note that although the teeth may look cl
Oral irrigators or water jets work by using pressured water or mouthwash to dislodge biofilm (plaque) from gaps between the teeth, around the gum margin and into periodontal pockets. An oral irrigator can also be used on orthodontic appliances and people who have crowns and bridges. Oral irrigators were first invented as an alternative to dental flossing as many people found it difficult to use floss as they could not reach areas in the back of the mouth. This led to people flossing infrequently and subsequently plaque biofilm would build up on their teeth. It is the build up of biofilm from remaining food particles in the mouth that contributes to dental cavities, bad breath and gum disease.
There are two main benefits of using an oral irrigator. Firstly, the device is an easy and effective way of cleaning your teeth as the water streams can reach far back into the mouth and in-between the teeth themselves. This is because the handles on irrigators are ergonomically designed and they have angled nozzles which allow you to access all areas of the mouth. And, you do not need to use irrigators for a long period of time before they are effective. Just a 60 second blast is enough to clean teeth in all areas of the mouth. Secondly, studies have shown that by using an irrigator along with your daily brushing twice a day, you can remove 99% more plaque than if you only used a manual toothbrush. And further research suggests that using an irrigator improves gum health by up to 93%, compared to brushing alone. It also helps to significantly reduce gingivitis and calculus after only 2 – 4 weeks of use.
It is thought that it is the pulsating action of an irrigator that is key to what helps clear dental debris and food particles. Although the streams of water are gentle and un-invasive, the powerful and targeted action of the water jets does work well to disrupt the most difficult to reach areas of the mouth. By using a powerful miniature pump to send pulsating
Day-to-day maintenance of oral hygiene is a basic need for everybody. Overlooking it can lead to health problems, discomfort and lower quality of life. For people with special needs, it is often their carers who hold responsibility for ensuring that their teeth and gums are kept as healthy as possible.
If you’re a carer, you’ll know that this is no easy task. Many people in your position have never received guidance on how to look after the teeth of the person in your care, but we’re here to help with some suggestions.
If the person you care for has a physical disability that prevents them from cleaning their own teeth, but has no aversion to you doing it for them, then it’s really just technique you need to focus on. It may be easiest to stand like a dentist whilst the person sits in a chair with their head tilted back. Always hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to the point at which the teeth meet the gums. Don’t use too much water and make a system to ensure that no areas are missed.
If the person you care for has a behavioural or psychiatric issue, such as advanced dementia, that makes it difficult for you to clean their teeth, then you will need to find a mutually beneficial solution.
Before you start, find some way of explaining what it is you are going to do and make them comfortable. If the sensations of brushing cause problems (common in children with autism) try different flavoured or unflavoured toothpastes, or use a more discreet fingertip brush. Routine may be important, so try to always brush in the same manner and order, and at the same time of day. If clamping occurs, try using a mouth rest, dental shield or a second toothbrush to keep the teeth apart.
Don’t worry too much if the person can’t rinse out all of the toothpaste. Neither should bleeding gums be a huge concern – although it’s a sign of unhealthy gums, this should improve
In general the interdental brushing technique involves the following:
- Place the tip of your interdental brush at the point where you wish to insert it between your teeth and probe it gently to find the best angle to begin to insert without needing to force it. You will find some angles work better than others.
- Before you insert the brush tip too far first rotate it to a more horizontal angle, this will allow for better cleaning and more control.
- Slowly and gently push the brush into the interproximal area between your teeth until the other side is reached. If you feel resistance or pain it is best to stop and carefully try again. Use a back and forth brushing motion to clean your teeth and gums, usually once will be enough to dislodge any matter that may have accumulated. Be sure to rinse the brush thoroughly afterwards, and replace the cap if it came with one.
If you find inserting the brush between your teeth is impossible, you may need to select a smaller size interdental brush. Interproximal spaces can vary greatly between people, and even between teeth in the same mouth, so tapered brushes or variety packs might be a better option if you are having difficulties. The most important thing to remember is that when inserting the brush between your teeth you do not force it into the space but insert it gently to avoid damaging your gums. Although some bleeding may occur initially, this will reduce over time as your gums become healthier. If you're unsure or if you continue to have difficulty then your dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist can offer you more advice and instruct you on how to use interdental brushes in your specific case.
The use of dental floss is appropriate to clean the interdental gums that completely fill the spaces between the teeth. It doesn't cause damage to the gum if introduced from 2 - 3 up to 5mm beyond the top of the papilla.
- Cut approximately 40 or 50 cm of floss and coil most of it around the middle finger of one of your hands. Coil the rest in the opposite hand, this finger can be gathering the dental floss as it is used.
- Hold firmly the tape or dental floss with the thumb and the index, allowing a distance of 2 or 3 cm between the fingers of each hand and with a soft saw-like movement insert it between the teeth against the tooth surface to clean it.
- When the tape or dental floss reaches the edge of the gums, bend it in as a C against one of the teeth and slide it softly into the space between the gum and the tooth until you notice resistance.
- Repeat this procedure with the rest of the teeth without leaving any space to clean.
- For an easy use of the tape or dental floss you can use an applicator.
While it is possible for bad breath to emanate from the stomach and the lungs it is in the majority of cases attributable to the mouth or oral cavity. In the mouth there are over 700 different types of bacteria, constantly multiplying to numbers in the millions. Plaque or dental biofilm is the sticky colourless substance that is formed when these bacteria combine with food debris trapped in between the teeth and gums. Bacteria feed on and decompose these food particles resulting in the release of a number of odour emitting gases, the cause of the nasty smell. It stands to reason that the more biofilm, the more bacterial activity and the greater the volume of gases produced. Therefore individuals with poor oral hygiene, gum disease or simply a higher genetic predisposition to plaque are more likely to suffer from bad breath. What is ‘morning breath’? While we sleep our saliva glands produce significantly lower levels of saliva then during waking hours. The dry mouth effect can be further exasperated by breathing through the mouth, the consumption of alcohol during the evening and the use of certain types of medicine. Without saliva bacteria numbers multiply unchecked leading to the increase biofilm and the release of unpleasant smelling gases as food debris is decomposed. This bad breath problem can be solved in the morning by rinsing with clean water, brushing and then by eating something to stimulate the production of fresh saliva. Some people find that using a dry mouth gel is an effective means of preventing the bad breath in the first place. These gels typical act as a saliva substitute, keeping the mouth moist and maintaining the optimal ph level through the night. Preventing Bad Breath The solution to achieving all day fresh breath is to control the growth of the bacteria and food debris containing biofilm. In short this comes down to practicing good oral hygiene as follows:
It is not unusual for parents and carers responsible for the day to day care of autistic children and adults to find it difficult to encourage the person with autism to clean their own teeth and mouth. Equally delivering this care can be even more difficult.
It is essential that mouth care is delivered. The obvious reason for this is to maintain good hygiene and quality of life. It is also considered a form of abuse if oral care is neglected and you are the carer (Department of Health ‘No secrets’ publication).
Trust plays a major role in co-operation and compliancy with mouth care. Give plenty of time and room when care is provided. There is no law to say when mouth care should be delivered, so wait until they are ready or in the right mood for the delivery of care – but don’t break a routine if you know it works for them. Use your knowledge of the individual to assess when or where is a good time for them to be relaxed about mouth care.
Every person has their own needs and tastes so it is essential to establish what the best tools are to deliver care. For instance, a child may not like strong flavours i.e. mint and could find it hard to use a standard minty toothpaste.
They may react badly to care being delivered because of a previous bad experience, perhaps they don’t like bright lights or be distracted by a smell in a room or nearby sounds. It could also be that they have been restricted while their teeth have been cleaned to prevent them lashing about – this is not unusual with some parents who feel this is the only way mouth care can be delivered.
They may also be in pain or have an irrational fear of gagging or choking – perhaps even be put off by the colour of the toothbrush.
Always bear in mind that if a person doesn’t need assistance and can clearly manage to clean their teeth reasonably well, then let them manage their own care and keep them as independent as possible.
Research shows that there are close to 700 species of bacteria naturally present in the mouth. These together with the teeth, gums and alveolar bone, form an ecosystem. Under normal conditions these bacteria are generally harmless, however should the balance of the ecosystem be upset this will potentially give rise to the accumulation of bacteria in the form of biofilm or dental plaque. Some of the main causes of this imbalance are poor oral hygiene, dietary, drugs and hormonal changes. What is Gum Disease? If biofilm or plaque is not removed it can reach levels that are detrimental to gingival health, resulting in gum disease. The first stage of gum disease is Gingivitis, an inflammatory process confined to the soft gum tissue and because the teeth supporting tissues are not affected the process is reversible. Should this gingival infection go untreated it will lead to degeneration of the periodontal tissue, the tissues that form the tooth support and the underlying bone. This is known as Periodontitis and if this were to go untreated the damage may well be irreversible. What are the symptoms of Gingivitis?
- Redness, inflammation and bleeding of the gums
- Changes in the consistency, texture and shape of the gum
- Bad breath
What are the symptoms of Periodontitis? In addition to the above individuals would experience:
- Gum tissue recession
- Loosening of the teeth
- Formation of periodontal pockets
- Moderate to advanced loss of alveolar bone
- Tooth loss
What are the risk factors associated with Gum Disease?
Controllable Risk Factors Uncontrollable Risk Factors Accumulated
Things have come a long way since we put baking soda on our fingers to clean our teeth and had to wear wooden dentures if they fell out! Thank goodness! Nowadays, we have an enormous assortment of dental health and dental care products to help us get rid of plaque and bacteria that are gentle on our gums. Still, people are visiting the dentists so what is going wrong? There is so much more to know about dental health than simply brushing twice a day to get white, cavity free teeth, so we have compiled a top ten list that covers everything you need to know about oral care.
It is important to brush first thing in the morning to remove plaque and bacteria that have accumulated over night and to brush last thing at night because saliva (which helps to keep the cavity-causing plaque off teeth) dries up as we sleep. Toothbrushes should come with a small head and soft bristles. Set a timer for 2 minutes, hold the brush at a 45 degree angle. Start at the same place every time begin by working your way around each tooth in turn. Ensure you clean all faces of the teeth to avoid missing any areas and don't forget your gums.
Use dental floss to clean in-between the teeth where plaque collects. Floss before you brush to remove any plaque from these areas. Roughly 90% of problems arise from areas between the teeth so it is important to floss effectively. Hold floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers and guide it between your teeth using a gentle sliding action. When the floss reaches where the tooth meets the gum, curve it into a V shape against the tooth and gently slide it up and down between the gum and the tooth. Repeat for the other side and every tooth. For larger gaps you can us an interdental brush.