Healthy Answers

Selecting a Toothbrush
Proper technique is just as important as the frequency of brushing.  Proper brushing technique begins with selection of an adequate toothbrush and tooth paste.   The ideal tooth brush will be labeled “soft” bristle.  “Hard” or “Medium” bristles have been found to wear down the teeth, especially at the gum line.  This prices would take place after years of continual use.  And the “Hard” or “Medium” bristle brush may be used occasionally without causing problems.  The variations in bristle shapes and design are good for the most particular individuals, but the straight standard design has proven to work well through the years with proper use.  The handle of the toothbrush should be comfortable to hold.  There are now many contours and textures of handles available at this time for your preference.  If you have arthritis or other limitations with your hands, wider handles are helpful as well as electric toothbrushes.

Electric toothbrushes are becoming extremely popular now that rechargeable batteries are becoming more reliable.  Electric toothbrushes are especially recommended for patients who find toothbrushing physically challenging.  The electric toothbrushes provide the fine motions which are sometimes difficult for those with arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, broken bones or other ailments.  Some patients have found that an adequate cleaning can be accomplished more quickly with an electric toothbrush; although, university studies have not consistently substantiated this.  A few of the brand names for electric toothbrushes are Braun, Butler, Interplak and Sonicare.   The ionizing toothbrushes often advertised on cable are not widely accepted currently and university studies have validated their benefit.

Selecting a Toothpaste
Selecting a toothpaste can be quite confusing today with the many different additives and choices.  The single most universal and important additive is fluoride.  If a toothpaste does not state directly that it contains fluoride then don’t buy it.  The benefits of fluoride have been well established and documented by hundreds of studies in universities.  Beyond the fluoride additive, the next most important additive is the flavoring; especially for children.  Currently, there are specially designed toothpastes for children which are very sweet.  They are sweetened with sugar-substitute, and are excellent motivators for children.  They pose small danger of causing stomachache from over consumption, so children should be monitored while they brush.  Children should always be monitored while they brush to ensure they are doing a good job.

Other toothpaste additives are baking soda, tartar control medicines, peroxide gels and whiteners.  All are useful and not harmful.  To simplify your choices, the largest toothpaste manufacturers are probably the best: Crest and Colgate.  For specific recommendation about specific choices you may have, ask a dentist who knows your dental conditions.

Brushing Your Teeth
The technique of brushing has not changed for yours.  One quarter to one half inch of toothpaste on a wet brush would be stroked first on the tops of the teeth.  Then proceed to the gum line on both sides of each tooth.  Either small circular motions, vertical motions or horizontal motions are acceptable.  The small motion should not drag the bristles across multiple teeth, but should create a vibratory motion of the bristles on the teeth to agitate the toothpaste into lather.

Flossing & Alternatives
Flossing is the second most important technique needed to keep your teeth clean.  Flossing should be done at least once a day to remove plaque from between the teeth and under the gum line.  Brushing alone cannot reach these areas.  Because tooth decay and gum infections often start in these areas, it is very important to clean them thoroughly every day.

Flossing is a skill that needs to be learned.  Don’t be discouraged if you find flossing difficult at first.  In fact, when you first take up flossing it is common to have slight bleeding and soreness.  For this reason it is best to begin flossing before you go to bed at night.  The initial bleeding should stop as you sleep.  The gums bleed because they are weak and soft in these areas if you don’t floss regularly.  As you learn to floss the gums will toughen up.  After about two weeks you should be able to floss anytime without fear of slight bleeding.

When flossing, break off about 18 inches of floss and wind it around your pointer fingers or the tall fingers.  Leave about 3 or 4 inches of string between your hands.  Pinch and pull the floss tightly between your thumbs and pointing fingers with about an inch between them.  The floss should be taut with no slack.  Using a gentle sawing motion, guide the floss between your teeth.  As the floss gets through the contact, stop sawing and begin an up and down massaging motion in the thin space between the tooth and gums.  Be sure the floss is pressed tightly against the tooth, curving around its contours.  After a couple of strokes against the first tooth, lift the floss to the top of the space beneath the contact.  Move the pressure to the other tooth and resume the up and down massage with the floss pressed tightly against this tooth, again curving around its contours.  Be sure not to hurt yourself.  Flossing should not be painful nor should it lacerate the gums.

While flossing takes quite a while to describe, the complete action, once practiced, can be completed in moments.  Repeat the flossing for every tooth; especially the back side of the last teeth.

Flossing is vital to the health and longevity of your teeth.  If you find it difficult to accomplish there are commercial floss holders which may make it slightly easier.  There is another technique which involves tying the floss in a loop instead of wrapping it around the fingers.  You may also find that the floss can be rinsed and used repeatedly if tied in a loop instead of tying around the fingers, which saves the time you spend trying to throw away the floss.  ‘Cause floss don’t fly’.  Wider floss can be helpful for those experiencing gum infection.  Waxed floss can be helpful for those with very tight contacts between the teeth.  There is even flavored floss which can be quite refreshing.  Kids should begin flossing at about age 12 and the loop technique is especially good for kids.

Flossing alternatives
If there are some physical limitations which prevent you from being able to floss, then a Water Pick is an acceptable alternative.  A Water Pick shoots a stream of water between the teeth to dislodge any food particles and most of the plaque.  Toothpicks are advocated by some dentists, but university studies would dispute the sufficiency of this technique in replacing flossing.  Toothpicks can be used after dinner to clean the gum line; however, the tip should be slightly blunted to prevent laceration of the gums.  Proxy brushes may also be useful in cleaning contact which are very wide.  If an individual has braces or a bridge, then floss threaders are excellent at drawing the floss through the contacts allowing thorough flossing to be accomplished despite the closed contacts.

Again, this guide is only for educational purposes for the curious.  You should have personalized oral hygiene instruction prescribed by a dentist who has evaluated your own dental conditions.  If you do not have a personal dentist, call or email Dr. Campbell, Dentists today and set up an initial consultation at 1-800-833-3111 or hygiene@drcampbell.com

Dental Health
Facts About Dental Health
Keeping good dental health can be very simple.  You can have a bright smile and keep yourself from getting bad breath, cavities and gum disease by learning the answers to the following questions:

Q  How can I take care of my mouth at home?
A  Brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, and floss once a day to help stop decay between your teeth.

Q  If I brush and floss well, do I still need regular dental checkups?
A  Yes.  No one can keep your teeth perfectly clean, and regular checkups will let your dentist or hygienist remove the plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth and find any problems while they are still easy to correct.

Q  How does what I eat affect my teeth?
A  Eating a balanced diet will provide your body with the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy teeth and gums.  Limit foods that are high in sugar, such as soft drinks and candy, and enjoy snacks that are good for you, such as apples, carrots and popcorn.

Q  How do cigarettes and chewing tobacco affect my mouth?
A  Any products containing tobacco increase your risk of getting oral cancer.  Also, if you smoke you are very likely to develop periodontal (gum) disease.

Dr. Campbell’s Personal Testimony
Personal Life Testimony of Dr. David Campbell:
As the third generation of my family to serve Southern California with dental care, our family has been extremely blessed with the honor of successfully serving grateful patients from lower economic communities over the last 80 years. Because I grew up in such a successful family, my early years were blessed with all the comforts of life. I pursued happiness and success in the same manners as most young men. And in high school, I had some measure of success in life. I competed nationally in aquatics, was student body president, with good grades, and was honored with a college scholarship to Occidental College.
As I left my parent’s guidance, unfortunate choices began to inhibit my success. I was humbled with a number of significant personal challenges. I am grateful for those trials now, for God was using these to call me to a devout life serving Christ wholeheartedly. Though life continues to challenge me, I look to Christ’s own healing ministry and prayer to guide my steps. Since then, God has blessed me with more excellence in my life than I could have ever obtained on my own, and I am grateful for the way the Lord uses this life’s challenges for His excellent glory.
Life Moto:  To whom much is given, much is required.

e-mail: mchrqrd@gmail.com