December 12,

Oral Hygiene

Oral Hygiene

Tooth decay occurs when harmful bacteria in plaque mix with sugar (found in food and drinks) and form an acid.  This acid attacks tooth enamel for about 15-20 minutes after sugar is eaten.  The acid breaks down enamel and causes tooth decay.

What can I do to prevent tooth decay?

  • Brush your teeth for a two minute period at least 2 times a day; if possible, after meals and before bed.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss once a day.
  • Limit intake of sugary foods.
  • Visit your dentist regularly.

Tips for a Healthy Smile:

How to Brush and Floss My Teeth:

Teeth should be brushed thoroughly at least twice a day. If possible, brush after every meal and at bedtime. Don’t rush the brush! Take at least 2 minutes.

Use a brush that:

  • Has soft bristles;
  • Fits the mouth well; and
  • Is replaced every 3-4 months, and after colds or flu.

How to brush:

  • begin at the back of the mouth and follow the teeth around to the other side.  Clean the inside and outside of teeth this way.
  • angle the toothbrush bristles where the gums and teeth meet.
  • gently jab and jiggle.
  • for the chewing surfaces, use a back and forth motion.
  • finish by gently brushing the tongue and rinsing thoroughly with water.

How to Floss My Teeth:

 Flossing removes plaque from places where your toothbrush cannot reach. To floss your teeth:

  • Begin with approximately 18 inches of dental floss;
  • Wrap the floss around each tooth in a “c” shape and clean the tooth by gently moving the floss up and down; and
  • Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash when finished.

How to Care for My Child’s Teeth:

Parents and caregivers should brush children’s teeth once a day until the age of 7.  A small pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste should be used and children should be encouraged not to swallow toothpaste during brushing.

Parents should floss their children’s teeth once a day until approximately age 9. To do so:

  • Stand behind your child and cradle your child’s head in your arms, or have your child sit on the floor in front of you and lay their head back in your lap.
  • Wrap the floss around each tooth in a “c” shape and clean the tooth by gently moving the floss up and down.
  • Have your child rinse his/her mouth with water when finished.

Healthy Snacking:

Healthy snacks are fruits & vegetables, crackers, breadsticks, dry cereal (low in sugar), cold pizza, hard boiled eggs, cheese/cheese strings, rice or corn cakes, popcorn, pretzels, yogurt, muffins and fruit juice (low in sugar).

Sticky, sugary foods do not make healthy snacks.  They cause acid to form which can lead to tooth decay. Limit “treats” such as, fruit rollups, fruit snacks, granola bars, cereal bars, Joe Louis, Flakey Pastry, Wagon Wheels, chocolate bars, pop, cookies, Dunk-A-Roos, Twinkies, and fruit drinks.

Have more questions?
If you have questions about oral hygiene issues, you may talk to your dentist or contact Public Health at 705-743-1000 and ask for the Oral Health Program.

Last modified on Aug 21, 2012

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