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Dr. Leo A. Rudoy has been practicing dentistry for many years.

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  Dental Health

Brushing and Flossing
A dynamic duo. Combining flossing and tooth brushing to thoroughly remove plaque each day will help prevent cavities and gum disease. It doesn’t matter whether you floss or brush first; what matters is that you remove the plaque.

You should brush your teeth for 2 or 3 minutes with fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day. If you can brush your teeth after every meal, that’s even better. Keep a toothbrush at work so you can brush after lunch.

What’s the best toothbrush? The requirements for a good toothbrush are simple:
  • it should bear the American Dental Association (ADA) stamp of approval (found on the package);
  • its head should fit easily into your mouth;
  • it should be labeled “soft” and have round-ended bristles to prevent damage to teeth and gums.
An electric toothbrush may help those who have difficulty brushing their teeth, but a regular toothbrush can clean teeth just as well.

Brushing tips:
  • Brush your teeth gently. Don't squash the bristles - that means you're brushing too hard.
  • Replace your toothbrush every two to three months, or as soon as the bristles are worn or bent. A worn-out toothbrush does not clean your teeth properly and can hurt your gums. You should also replace your toothbrush after you've had a cold.
  • Be sure you are reaching every tooth. The toothbrush can only clean one or two teeth at a time, so move it around a lot. You should keep the bristles angled against the gum line and brush along the gum line and the inner and outer surfaces of each tooth.
  • Avoid toothbrushes with hard bristles, which can damage your gums. Use a toothbrush with soft, end-rounded bristles.
  • You should finish by brushing your tongue, which helps remove bacteria from your mouth.

How important is flossing? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, only flossing can remove plaque from between teeth and below the gum line, where decay and gum disease often begins. Make sure to floss at least once a day, preferably before bed, to clean the places where a toothbrush can’t reach.

How to floss:
  • Use about 18” of floss, leaving an inch or two to work with.
  • Gently follow the curves of your teeth
  • Be sure to clean beneath the gumline, but avoid snapping the floss on the gums.

The truth about toothpaste

Tartar control. Baking soda. Whitening action. How do you choose the one that’s more effective? The truth is that as long as your toothpaste contains fluoride and has the ADA seal of approval, the brand or extra features you choose don’t really matter.


Here's how... In A Nutshell:

  • Use these sweets only in moderation (less than every day):

    • soda pop*
    • sugared drinks
    • coffee drinks with syrups or mocha added
    • sports drinks
    • chewing gum
    • breath mints & fresheners
    • cough drops
    • hard candy
    • sticky candy
    • Tums or other chewable antacids
    • chewable vitamin C
    • chewable aspirin

  • Sugar-free alternatives, which are safe for your teeth, are available for all of these.

  • Keep teeth free of bacteria by brushing 2 to 4 times every day, and flossing every day.

  • Use home fluoride treatment daily.
More Detail:
  • What are cavities? Cavities don’t just suddenly appear. A cavity starts with a healthy tooth. Bacteria that is present on the tooth (“plaque”) digest sugar and produce acid. With each and every exposure to acid (from the bacteria or from carbonated drinks), the tooth dissolves little by little, leaving a hole. The effects are cumulative; it takes hundreds of these small episodes to damage the tooth enough to where we can identify it as a cavity. In some people it takes many years for enough acid exposures to accumulate and make a cavity; in other people, it takes only a few months.

  • Sugar: Most people know sugar and cavities go hand-in-hand. What many people don’t know is that it isn’t just how sweet something is that makes it bad for your teeth. It's also how long the sugar is contacting your teeth. That is why soda pop, gum, mints, cough drops, hard candy, and sticky candy cause the most cavities. Antacids, chewable vitamins can also cause cavities.

  • Soda pop: Bad stuff for teeth! You get a double-whammy when you drink sodas. It is loaded with sugar, plus it’s extremely acidic (the carbonation) and can dissolve tooth enamel directly, bypassing the bacteria. Even sugar-free sodas damage teeth due to the acid! If it’s carbonated, it’s bad for teeth. Drink healthier beverages.

  • Brushing, flossing: Cavities are caused when the bacteria on your teeth (“plaque”) changes sugar into acid. The more often you brush and floss, the less bacteria you have on your teeth to produce these damaging acids. Brushing twice a day is a minimum; three or even four times a day is best. Floss once a day. If you are not flossing, the bacteria is never removed from between your teeth. This is why people with good brushing and eating habits can still get cavities between teeth.

  • Fluoride: Fluoride can help prevent new cavities, and reverse early cavities when they are just starting. In most cases, using a toothpaste with fluoride is adequate. In people with higher tooth decay risk, an extra fluoride supplement is needed. These fluoride gels or rinses should be used consistently once every day on an ongoing basis. Fluoride mouthrinses (Act®; Fluoriguard®) are available in most stores. Fluoride gels (such as Gel-Kam®; Prevident®) are available at your pharmacy desk, or at many dentist offices.

  • Dry mouth: Saliva is an important natural defense against cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. The mouth can become unusually dry ("xerostomia") as a side effect of many medications, diseases, or simply with age. People with very dry mouths can be quite susceptible to cavities. Minimize this risk by taking frequent sips of water throughout the day. Don’t suck on hard candy; the sugar will cause cavities very quickly. Use fluoride.