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Caring for your teeth
You brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly and visit the dentist every six months, but did you know that rinsing with fluoride — a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay — also helps keep your teeth healthy and strong?
Read on for more info on fluoride, as well as our general oral health tips.
Tips for tooth and gum health
Whether you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment or just trying to maintain the healthiest smile possible, there are a few things you can do to keep your smile in tip top shape, starting with your daily routine.
- Brush your teeth every morning and night, using gentle circular motions along your teeth and gums. You should be brushing for 2-3 minutes each time, which is about the same amount of time as most top hits. So turn on your favorite song and brush until it’s over!
- If you wear braces or Invisalign®, brush after every meal. It’s very important to keep food out of your brackets, archwires and Invisalign® clear aligners.
- Use the right toothbrush. An electric toothbrush is a great option when it comes to getting a squeaky-clean mouth. But there are other options that will work great, too. Talk to us on your next visit and we’ll help you find the right degree of bristle softness for your teeth and gums.
- Floss daily, applying pressure sideways, toward either side of your teeth near the gums. You want to move the floss along the bottom of your teeth to prevent plaque buildup and keep food out from between your teeth. Floss more, as needed.
- Avoid smoking and drinking excessive alcoholic and/or sugary drinks. These habits will not only discolor your teeth, but can lead to the breakdown and decay of your enamel.
- Visit your dentist at least two times a year. We’ll make sure to give your teeth and gums a thorough cleaning, polish your teeth and scan for cavities or other signs you need further treatment. The best way to promote tooth health is with preventative measures!
If you follow these guidelines, you will be well on your way to a happy, healthy mouth. Most people don’t need additional measures like special mouthwashes or a particular toothpaste brand. However, if you have any questions or concerns, Dr. Stryt and the team are always happy to answer them!
Using fluoride to prevent future problems
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating your teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth's surface. It comes in two varieties:
- Topical fluoride is applied directly to the tooth and includes toothpastes and mouth rinses.
- Systemic fluorides are generally only used by your dentist and are not often available for at-home use.
When choosing your own at-home fluoride product (such as toothpaste or mouthwash), always check for the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined by the ADA and approved based on safety and effectiveness.
Systemic fluoride treatments are generally designed to help protect the oral health of children undergoing dental procedures. Fluoride used in the dentist/orthodontist’s office is often a much stronger concentration than in toothpaste or mouthwash. When used in your dentist’s office, a fluoride treatment generally only takes a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked to not rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride.
Depending on your oral health or your doctor's recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe an at-home fluoride product such as mouthwash, gels, or an antibacterial rinse.
Signs more treatment is needed
You know your smile best, and sometimes, it’s telling you that it needs a little extra care. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s time to see your oral care providers:
- Swelling, redness or pain along your gum line.
- Bleeding gums when brushing, flossing or biting into food.
- “Zingers” or sudden tooth pain - most common when your teeth are exposed to something hot or cold.
- An ongoing toothache.
- A sudden change in taste or smell.
- A filling that has come loose or fallen out.
Orthodontic appliances that are rubbing, poking or causing discomfort.