I think that most of my patients and most of the public knows the importance of oral hygiene. Even patients with no teeth still need to keep their mouth clean as gums can get infected even if no teeth are present. When I am doing a routine exam, I always like to ask my patient how often do they brush and floss, what type of toothpaste and toothbrush are used, and what other things do they do. For my patients who never get cavities, I generally am not too concerned and recommend that they continue to do things as normal. For my patients who get at least one cavity a year, I like to review what products do they use to clean their teeth, what do they use to clean their teeth throughout the day, and reinforce the need for routine dental professional cleanings.
The Dental Products Recommended by Dr. Schafer
So I like most of the products on the market for cleaning the mouth. Companies like Crest, Colgate, and Sensodyne have easily made over one thousand products with different purposes and tastes. As far as toothpaste goes, I like all toothpastes except for whitening and tartar control toothpastes as whitening and tartar control toothpastes are much more abrasive to the teeth and can cause quite a bit of wear. For flossing and toothpicks, my philosophy is that anything that helps get sugar out from between the teeth is great. The biggest part of flossing is that it should not hurt to floss. Unfortunately, many people believe that they are only flossing correctly if it hurts every time they do it, but this can cause irritation around the gums and made food get impacted much more easily in the area. I personally like the floss picks because it seems to make flossing much easier and people are more likely to do it when it is convenient. Last but not least, I like a fresh soft toothbrush. All the brands are great, but it must be soft. The reason is that even a medium toothbrush is too harsh for the gums and teeth and will cause the gums to recede and the teeth to get notched. Last but not least when I talk about cleaning the mouth, I recommend that it is done twice a day. If twice a day is not doable for one reason or another, cleaning the mouth at night is much more important during the day as cavities form much more quickly at night due to the mouth being drier at night.
Steps to Take for a Cleaner Mouth
Brushing and flossing are great, but for people at high risk of cavities, I recommend a few more steps during the day to help tip the scales in the favor of health. The first and best recommendation is to drink more regular water. Tap water is usually the best as it has fluoride in it which help strengthen teeth; however, bottled or filtered water is fine as well. Drinking water helps rinse out the mouth and dissolves the sugar and helps remove any acid produced by the bacteria in the mouth. The next recommendation is to chew sugar-free gums which helps stimulate saliva flow. Saliva not only helps rinse off the teeth and remove sugar, but it also has anti-microbial properties which helps to kill germs. Last, if a patient wants to really help out their mouth, I recommend xylitol candies. Xylitol candy is made from birch tree sugar. The wonderful part of it is that bacteria cannot digest it so when it is chewed, the germs that cause cavities are starved of their energy source. By chewing four or five pieces of this candy a day, the amount of bacteria in the mouth is reduced and the less bacteria in the mouth, the lower the chance of cavities.
How Often to Get a Dental Cleaning
More frequent dental cleanings are the final thing that I recommend for my patients who get cavities often. By doing cleanings once every three months instead of once every six months, a dental hygienist or dentist can remove the plaque that causes the cavities that cannot be removed by a toothbrush. Unfortunately, I get quite a bit of push back from most patients on this because few dental insurances cover more than one cleaning every six months. This though is one of the best ways that has been proven to prevent cavities because it helps me find small cavities before they can get big. Fixing small cavities is far cheaper than fixing big cavities and there is less chance of needing a root canal or a crown or an extraction.
Get your Cleanest Smile with NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry
Using good oral hygiene practices is just as important as washing your hands on a routine basis. A large part of my job is helping patients have a healthy, happy, clean, and beautiful mouth. I want all my patients to love their smiles and feel like they can put their best face forward at all times. If you need help with cavities or are concerned about whether you are doing a good job to clean your mouth, please call us at 504-392-5104 and we will help you out.