How to look after your teeth

Preventative & Hygiene

Dental cleaning

People routinely clean their own teeth by brushing and flossing, but hardened deposits (like tartar) cannot be removed by only routine brushing. To prevent these deposits from causing gum disease, our dental hygienists has the correct tools to help remove hardened deposits (tartar) and help you maintain healthy teeth and gums.

When cleaning, the dentist, periodontist, or dental hygienist removes the plaque through a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planing. Scaling means removing the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather, helping to remove bacteria that contribute to disease.

How often should I have a cleaning done?

For most people, getting a dental cleaning twice a year is adequate. Your dentist may tell you that you can come in less frequently. On the other hand, if you are a smoker, have diabetes, have a weakened immune system, are prone to getting cavities, or currently have gum disease, your dentist may ask you to come in more frequently.

Unlike your toothbrush, your dentist's tools can remove tartar -- hardened plaque -- from above and just below the gum line. Removing tartar is an important step in keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Brushing and flossing

Brushing

Regular, thorough brushing is a very important step in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing removes the bacteria that promote tooth decay and the plaque that can cause gum disease.

Ideally, you should brush after every meal, because the bacterial attack on teeth begins minutes after eating. At the very least, brush once a day and always before you go to bed. Brushing your teeth isn't complicated, but there is a right and a wrong way.

Flossing

Flossing removes plaque and bacteria that you cannot reach with your toothbrush. If you don't floss, you are missing more than one-third of your tooth surface. Plaque is the main cause of gum disease. It is an invisible bacterial film that develops on your teeth every day.

Within 24 to 36 hours, plaque hardens into tartar (also called calculus), which can only be removed by professional cleaning. Floss at least once a day, and plaque never gets the chance to harden into tartar. Getting into the habit of daily flossing is easier when you floss while doing something else like watching TV or listening to music, for example.

Flossing Problems and Solutions

Gums sometimes bleed when you first begin to floss. Bleeding usually stops after a few days. If bleeding does not stop, see your dentist. Floss can shred if you snag it on an old filling or on the ragged edge of a tooth.

Try another type of floss or dental tape. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist for advice. If your floss still shreds, see your dentist.