Oral Hygiene

Why is Oral Hygiene so Important?

Oral Hygiene is an integral part of our overall health. Proper oral hygiene is essential for the gums, teeth, and mouth to prevent dental problems and health issues in the long run.

Tooth decay, periodontal disease and halitosis (bad breath) are some of the problems that can develop as a result of poor oral hygiene. Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. Research suggests that there may be a link between gum disease and other health-related problems such as heart disease, strokes, pneumonia, and diabetes.

The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques performed daily.

Dental Hygiene

If you have any pain while brushing your teeth or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office at Exton Office Phone Number 610-524-0115.

  • Always brush your teeth after meals or at least twice a day. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes in order to completely remove plaque and bacteria and stimulate the gum tissue to keep it healthy. Sometimes, it helps to use a timer to ensure that you are brushing long enough.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months for maximum brushing effectiveness. When using a manual toothbrush, make sure that the bristles are soft. Using an electronic toothbrush such as a Sonicare or a Braun Oral-B is beneficial. This type of brush is more thorough in removing plaque and bacteria, and is gentler on gum tissue. It also has a two-minute timer to ensure adequate brushing time.
  • Always floss before or after brushing. Dental floss is used to remove plaque and debris between teeth. Only floss, and not any toothbrush, can get directly between teeth.
  • Schedule routine hygiene visits at least every six months for optimal oral health.

How to Brush Teeth

It is important to always use a soft toothbrush. While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.

When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.

To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.

Next you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth by using short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.

How to Floss

Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember it takes time and practice.

Start with a piece of floss (waxed is easier) about 18” long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand.

To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to place. Bring the floss to the gum line and then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.

To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefingers of both hands. Do not forget the back side of the last tooth on both the upper and lower sides.

When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing, you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque, your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.

oral hygiene supplies

Automatic and “high-tech” electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of patients. Oral irrigators (water piks or water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but will not remove plaque. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with these oral irrigators. Excellent results are commonplace with electric toothbrushes such as the Braun Oral-B or the Sonicare. If you would like more information about using an electronic toothbrush, please click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRu2GocdHO8

Caring for Sensitive Teeth

Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long, but only if the mouth is kept clean. If the mouth is not kept clean the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive consult with your doctor. They may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.

Rubber tip stimulators and Stimudents are designed to provide extra stimulation to the gum tissue in areas where there is bleeding, inflammation, and soreness. This extra stimulation of the gum tissue helps increase blood flow which will reduce the swelling, make the tissue tighter, and help eliminate the inflamed areas around the teeth which are most likely to trap bacteria.

Proxabrushes are very small tapered or bottle-shaped brushes that are especially effective for cleaning medium to large spaces between teeth or around bridges and implants. These brushes are the next best option to clean between teeth for patients who have difficulty managing dental floss.

Super floss and floss threaders (small plastic loops for using floss) help reach under bridges, around implants, and between teeth with braces.

Toothpastes must always contain fluoride in order to prevent tooth decay. Our office does not support one toothpaste over another as long as it contains fluoride and you brush at least twice daily.

Fluoride mouth rinses can help to significantly reduce tooth decay, but only if they are used in conjunction with brushing and flossing. These rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. Also, any fluoride supplement should only be prescribed by your dentist in order to avoid the development of fluorosis or possible systemic complications.

In-office fluoride treatments also help prevent decay and benefit children and adult patients. One major benefit for adult patients is that protection is provided for exposed root surfaces that can more easily develop decay and helping these areas become less sensitive to temperatures.

Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association and used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, contain agents that may help bring early gum disease under control. Dr. Hoffman recommends Listerine antiseptic mouthwash approved by the American Dental Association (not the zero alcohol Listerine brand which is not approved by the American Dental Association).

Professional Dental Cleaning

Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental plaque and calculus to a minimum, but a professional dental cleaning will remove plaque and calculus in places your toothbrush and floss have missed. Hygiene appointments are an extremely important part of your program to prevent gum disease. We recommend that a professional dental cleaning be performed twice annually as a preventative measure. For patients who have periodontal disease, we recommend that maintenance cleanings should be completed every three to four months. These measures will help you to keep your teeth for a lifetime.


Good nutrition plays a large role in your dental health. Brushing and flossing help to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong; however, a balanced diet will help to boost your body’s immune system, leaving you less vulnerable to oral disease.

How often and what you eat have been found to affect your dental health. The bacteria in your mouth feed on starchy foods that you eat, such as crackers, bread, cookies, and candy. Acids are then produced which attack your teeth. Also, foods that stick to your teeth or are slow to dissolve give the acids more time to work on destroying your tooth enamel.

Sticky and starchy foods create less acid when eaten as part of a meal. Saliva production increases at mealtime, rinsing away food particles and neutralizing harmful acids. Foods such as nuts, cheese, onions, and some teas have been shown to slow growth of decay-causing bacteria in the mouth.

Starchy Foods


Sticky / Slow to Dissolve Foods

Granola bars
Chewy fruit snacks
Dried fruit
Potato chips
Hard candy

You should brush, floss, and rinse immediately after eating sticky or starchy foods in order to remove particles that could increase the acid concentration in the mouth leading to tooth decay and periodontal disease.

Take charge of your oral health today!

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