Regular periodontal check ups are essential for maintaining excellent oral hygiene and diagnosing potential problems, but they are not a “fix-all” solution. Treatment and maintenance for periodontal patients requires a team effort between the periodontist, the general dentist, and the patient. Daily thorough oral homecare routines are vital for the long term success of periodontal treatment. The periodontal patient simply can not be slack with their homecare regimen.
Periodontal disease (also called gum disease and periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss in the developed world, and is completely preventable in the vast majority of cases. Professional cleanings twice a year combined with daily self-cleaning can remove a high percentage of disease-causing bacteria and plaque. In addition, teeth that are well cared for make for a sparkling white smile.
Here are some of the most common oral hygiene aids utilized in our practice for periodontal patients' and implant patients' homecare. HOWEVER, KEEP IN MIND THAT ALL OF THESE AIDS WILL BE INEFFECTIVE IF NOT USED CORRECTLY:
Dental floss is the most common interdental and subgingival (below the gum) cleaner and comes in a variety of types and flavors. The floss itself is made from either thin nylon filaments or polyethylene ribbons, and can help remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth and under the gums. Incorrect flossing with a floss holder can cause soft tissue damage and bleeding, so proper technique should be utilized when flossing. Do not assume because you have flossed for many years you are correctly flossing. Surprisingly, when we explain proper flossing techniques to our patients, we find many patients are not properly flossing their teeth! Floss should normally be used twice daily after brushing. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR ALL PATIENTS TO KNOW THAT NO DENTAL AID WILL TAKE THE PLACE OF FLOSS.
Sometimes periodontists recommend interdental brushes in addition to dental floss. These tiny brushes are gentle on the gums and can be effective in cleaning the contours of teeth in between the gums. Interdental brushes come in various shapes and sizes. THESE BRUSHES DO NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF FLOSS.
There are two basic types of mouth rinse available: Cosmetic rinses which are sold over the counter and temporarily suppress bad breath, and therapeutic rinses which may or may not require a prescription. Most dentists are skeptical about the benefits of cosmetic rinses because several studies have shown that their effectiveness against plaque is minimal. Therapeutic rinses however, are regulated by the FDA and contain active ingredients that can help reduce bad breath, plaque, and cavities. Mouth rinses should generally be used after brushing. OVER THE COUNTER MOUTH RINSES DO NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF MECHANICALLY CLEANING YOUR TEETH WITH A BRUSH AND FLOSS!
Oral irrigators, like Water Jets and Waterpiks have been created to clean debris from between the teeth. Oral irrigators are not recommended in our practice in the treatment of periodontal disease. Occasionally, it is recommended for other specific dental use. If an oral irrigator is part of your homecare regimen, ask our staff for recommendations.
Rubbber Tip Stimulators
Our practice does not recommend the use of rubber tip stimulators for the removal of plaque on your teeth. Stimulation of blood flow to the gums utilizing a Rubber Tip Stimulator is ineffective in the treatment of gum disease.
Tongue cleaners are special devices which have been designed to remove the buildup of bacteria, fungi and food debris from the tongue surface. The fungi and bacteria that colonize on the tongue have been related to halitosis (bad breath) and a great many systemic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and stroke. Tongue cleaners can be made from metal, wood or plastic and shaped in accordance with the contours of the tongue. Tongue cleaning should be done prior to brushing to prevent the ingestion of fungi and bacteria.
There are a great many toothbrush types available. As long as a patient's cleaning technique is effective, either Manual or Electric toothbrushes can be utilized. Manual toothbrushes should be replaced every three months because worn bristles become ineffective over time. Soft bristle toothbrushes are recommended because they decrease the possbility of damage to the tooth and gum. In addition, an appropriate sized ADA approved toothbrush should be chosen to allow proper cleaning to all the teeth. Teeth should ideally be brushed after each meal, or minimally twice each day.
The perio-aid is a plastic handle that supports the tip of a tooth pick on either end of the handle. It is truly the workhorse in our practice after our patients have completed periodontal or implant treatment. The plaque that accumulates at the gumline is responsible for causing periodontal disease. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to remove this plaque daily in the most effective way possible. The tip of the toothpick rubbing against the tooth at the gumline around the full circumference of your teeth will successfully remove the plaque that causes bone loss. We teach our patients the proper use of this device at the appropriate time in their treatment.
If you have any questions about oral hygiene aids, please ask our staff.