Home care of the mouth and teeth

 Why do the teeth need to be brushed?

Every day, a bacterial mass, known as plaque, builds up on the teeth. Brushing the teeth decreases the amount of bacterial mass. Bacteria cause dental decay (caries) and inflammation of the gums. Therefore, brushing the teeth using a fluoride toothpaste in the morning and evening is the foundation or oral care. The teeth should be brushed carefully for approximately two minutes. It is a good idea to do the brushing in a certain order every time, for example a half of jaw at a time. It is important to clean every tooth and dental surface. The most effective way to remove plaque is to brush the teeth using back-and-forth strokes. However, the teeth should not be brushed immediately after having acidic food or drink to prevent damage to the enamel surface.

What kind of a toothbrush is the best? Is getting an electric toothbrush worthwhile?

There is a variety of toothbrushes with an abundance of properties in the market. The most important thing is to find a toothbrush that fits your mouth and is pleasant to use every day. A good toothbrush is small and soft. A small brush reaches the difficult spots and the rearmost teeth. Excessive force should be avoided in brushing your teeth to prevent damaging the gums. Soft bristles spare the gums from receding. Also, the toothbrush should be replaced approximately once every three months.

Manufacturers also offer various electric toothbrushes in several price categories. The brush section of an electric toothbrush moves back and forth and cleans the surface of the tooth and the gum line. As the bristles take care of the cleaning, brushing the teeth becomes easier. Often, electric toothbrushes provide better results compared to normal toothbrushes. Especially people with impaired motor function will find electric toothbrushes helpful in keeping the teeth clean.

How to clean the gaps between the teeth?

A toothbrush does not reach between the teeth where plaque and scraps of food readily build up. As keeping the space between the teeth is difficult, they often decay. There are several aids for cleaning between the teeth, such as dental floss, toothpicks and various interdental brushes. Ideally, the spaces between the teeth are cleaned daily, but at least on a few days a week.

Dental floss is the best solution for cleaning extremely narrow gaps between the teeth. There are various thicknesses, strengths and materials to choose from. There are also handy floss handles available that make it easier to introduce the floss into the mouth. The floss is taken to between the teeth and moved in line with the sides of both teeth, removing the plaque.

If the space between the teeth is wider, toothpicks or interdental brushes should be used. The broad base of the pick is to be placed against the gum when using the toothpick. Interdental brushes look like tiny bottlebrushes, and they also come in various sizes. Interdental brushes are often used particularly in the treatment of gum diseases.

When should I start brushing a child's teeth?

It is a good idea to start brushing the teeth immediately when the child's first teeth emerge, usually around the age of six months. The use of toothpaste should be started only when the child's first molars have emerged, usually sometime after the first birthday. A children's toothpaste with a lower fluoride content should be used for children. Even if a child already is able to brush his/her teeth, the parents should supervise and help the child in the brushing and portioning of toothpaste.

What does fluoride do to the teeth?

Fluoride makes the minerals of the enamel harder, making the tooth stronger. The surface hardened by fluoride is even harder than the previous enamel. Using fluoride may even stop early-stage damage on the surface of the enamel. Sources of fluoride include fluoride-containing toothpastes, fluoride tablets and fluoride varnish used by a dentist. In some areas of Finland, tap water also contains fluoride. A fluoride toothpaste should be used when brushing the teeth, twice daily. Dental floss can also be used as a fluorated variety, which introduces fluoride between the teeth as well. However, excessive intake of fluoride is harmful, especially for children. Excessive fluoride can cause fluorosis in the teeth and even general toxic symptoms. In small children, the amount of toothpaste should only be the size of the fingernail of the child's little finger.





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