Did you know that the average person spends 38.5 days brushing their teeth over their lifetime? They also spend tens of hours flossing, swirling mouthwash and laying back in the dentist chair. That’s a serious commitment to oral health. But with limited time and competing priorities, which teeth cleaning methods work the best for keeping gums and teeth healthy?
Professional Scaling and Cleaning
When a patient visits their dentist for a scale and clean, they often don’t know what’s going on. They might feel the dentist prodding around their mouth, or hear the whirl of the machines, but that’s about it.
It is no surprise, then, that people wonder if scale and cleans are necessary. However, apart from diligent home oral care, it’s one of the best ways to keep teeth and gums healthy.
In addition to examining your teeth, your dentist will check all the soft tissues on the inside of the mouth. They will look for unusual lumps and bumps, or signs of oral cancer. They may also:
Examine extra-oral areas like the temporomandibular joint (the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull), muscles and skin
Screen for gum disease (Periodontitis)
Check for signs of oral cancer
Perform x-rays to view parts of the teeth that can’t be seen by looking
Only after all of these steps will your dentist do the scale and clean, which removes tartar, plaque and stains. This is often followed by a fluoride treatment to strengthen the teeth and prevent tooth decay and sensitivity. They may also explain and show you how to improve your oral health at home, whether that’s through improved cleaning techniques, or diet modifications.
For truly healthy teeth and gums, scaling and cleaning can’t be skipped.
Floss and Interdental Brushes
If you hate flossing, or exaggerate about how often you floss, you’re not alone. But while flossing can be tedious, it’s worth doing to maintain oral health.
You can’t reach between the teeth with a toothbrush, which allows debris, plaque and food to build up. Over time, this can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
To avoid this build up, you could floss. Or you could use an interdental brush (a small brush designed specifically for cleaning between your teeth) instead. In terms of dexterity, it’s easier for most people to use an interdental brush than it is to floss properly. Try dipping your brush in toothpaste to ensure fluoride gets between your teeth, too.
Electrify Your Brushing
There are many advantages to using an electric toothbrush compared to a manual brush. Of course, using any toothbrush twice a day is much better than nothing though. The advantages of the electric toothbrushes are:
the ones with small round spinning heads are much easier to fit in to the tricky parts of your mouth
it is generally easier to accomplish what you need to without having to think too much about it – simply hold the brush in the right position and it does all the work for you
many electric brushes have aids to ensure you spend the right amount of time brushing each area – some even have a pressure indicator to tell you if you are pushing to hard!
Remember to change your toothbrush head every 3 months to keep it in tip top shape too!
Despite television advertisements that tell you mouthwash ‘blasts away’ bacteria, studies have shown the product is not a valid replacement for brushing and flossing. It may slows bacterial growth, but is not effective on it’s own at removing plaque and debris from the teeth. Also, in some cases the alcohol in these products can dry out your mouth and actually make bad breath worse.
Many people think that mouthwash can replace flossing. But the plaque on your teeth won’t come off with just a rinse, which is why brushing and flossing (or using an interdental brush) are essential.