Everyday Dental Care Questions

Below are the answers to our most frequently asked questions regarding everyday dental questions.

One way is to use an elliptical or circular motion to brush a few teeth at a time until you have covered the entire mouth. At a 45-degree angle, place the toothbrush next to the teeth and gently brush in that circular motion. First brush the outside, then inside of the teeth, the tongue, and then the chewing surface and between areas of the teeth. Brushing your teeth with a back and forth motion can cause the gums to recede, the root surface to be exposed, or to make the root surface tender.
As a general rule, toothbrush heads should be about one by one half of an inch for easy access. Your toothbrush should have a handle that is long and wide as well as soft bristles with round ends made of nylon. Some toothbrushes are too abrasive and can actually wear down teeth, which is why it is so important to pick the right toothbrush. Press your soft-bristled toothbrush just firmly enough to reach the spaces between the teeth and the surfaces of the teeth. Dr. Schlotterer does not recommend medium- or hard-bristled toothbrushes.
Most dentists recommend brushing for three or four minutes at a time (brush with the radio on – that is the length of the average song!). You can also use an egg time to measure brushing time. Most people don’t realize that the average person spends less than a minute brushing their teeth each session.

Yes! While most Americans don’t brush at work, a recent study by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) shows that by keeping a toothbrush at work, your chances of brushing during the day increase by 65%.

Having a toothbrush at work allows you to get debris off of teeth immediately. Those who brush with fluoride toothpaste at night and in the morning don’t even need to use toothpaste when they brush at work.

Dr. Schlotterer always recommends brushing and rinsing before heading back to your workspace after lunch. Rinsing with water for 30 seconds after lunch (if you don’t have a toothbrush handy) can also help.

The brand of toothpaste doesn’t really matter as long as it contains fluoride. This is true for tooth pastes, gels, and powders. Dr. Schlotterer recommends buying toothpaste that bears the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. This shows that there is adequate evidence of efficacy and safety in controlled clinical trials.

According to Dr. Schlotterer, you only need a pea-sized amount of gel or toothpaste for an effective brushing session.

No. While brushing after every meal does help improve your oral health, it is just as important to floss your teeth every day. Flossing your teeth every day can help remove the food particles and plaque between the teeth and near the gum line. Professional studies have shown that plaque will re-grow on completely clean teeth just three or four hours after brushing, which is why it is so important to consistently brush and floss.

Absolutely. Flossing is just as important and brushing and can help remove the debris and plaque that sticks to the teeth and gums. Flossing regularly can also help polish the surfaces of the teeth and control certain types of bad breath.

Dr. Gary Schlotterer is a firm believer in the fact that flossing regularly can be the most important factor in maintaining lifelong oral health and reducing your risk for periodontal (gum) disease.

Once a day is preferred; however, if you can’t floss every single day, try to floss at least two or three times a week.

Dr. Schlotterer, recommends flossing before bed. The fact that you are flossing is most important, however.

If you don’t know how to floss properly, please feel free to ask one of our caring team members at your visit. To get you started, take an 18-inch piece of floss and then wind most of it lightly around each hand’s index fingers. Place the floss between the teeth with the index fingers. Avoid pulling it hard against the gums as this can hurt the gums. Form a “C” shape around the tooth by bringing the floss up and down several times. Make sure to go below the gum line. A plastic floss holder may help you if you have trouble flossing or if you have arthritis.
Bleeding gums is never a good sign. This is a sign of germs and inflammation between the teeth – a sign of gum disease. Contact our office in Durham immediately if your gums bleed when you floss for more information.
There are many forms of dental floss: flavored, waxed, wide, unwaxed, unflavored, and regular. Dental tape, also known as wide floss, is a good option for those who have wide spaces between the teeth or extensive bridgework. Each type of floss cleans and removes plaque relatively equally. Waxed floss is often easier to slide between tight teeth and restorations, while bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily.
Floss holders are pre-threaded flossers and are ideal for those who are just learning how to floss, for individuals who are flossing another person’s teeth, or for people with limited dexterity.

Toothpicks can be handy in a pinch, but should not be used for daily cleaning between the teeth. Dr. Schlotterer, always recommends flossing over toothpicks.

If you do need to use a toothpick, don’t press too hard as this could break the toothpick and lodge it in the gums.

Not necessarily. Waterpicks are no substitute for regular flossing and brushing, but they can be effective for cleaning food stuck in braces. Waterpicks do not remove plaque. Dr. Schlotterer may recommend a waterpick to those who have gum disease as antibacterial agents and solutions can be added to the reservoir for additional treatment.
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