Oral Hygiene Recommendations

Teeth Cleaning Exams

Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums (Oral Hygiene)

The ADA recommends the following for good oral hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Decay–causing bacteria still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. This helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.

Antimicrobial mouth rinses and toothpastes reduce the bacterial count and inhibit bacterial activity in dental plaque, which can cause gingivitis, an early, reversible form of periodontal (gum) disease. ADA-Accepted antimicrobial mouth rinses and toothpastes have substantiated these claims by demonstrating significant reductions in plaque and gingivitis. Fluoride mouth rinses help reduce and prevent tooth decay. Clinical studies have demonstrated that use of a fluoride mouth rinse and fluoride toothpaste can provide extra protection against tooth decay over that provided by fluoride toothpaste alone. Fluoride mouth rinse is not recommended for children age six or younger because they may swallow the rinse. Consumers should always check the manufacturer’s label for precautions and age recommendations and talk with their dentist about the use of fluoride mouth rinse.

Talk to your dentist about what types of oral care products will be most effective for you. The ADA Seal on a product is your assurance that it has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. Look for the ADA Seal on fluoride toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, interdental cleaners, oral irrigators, mouth rinses and other oral hygiene products.

What is plaque?
Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugared foods, such as candy and cookies, are not the only culprits. Starches, such as bread, crackers, and cereal, also cause acids to form. If you snack often, you could be having acid attacks all day long. After many acid attacks, your teeth may decay.

Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, tender or bleed easily. After a while, gums may pull away from the teeth. Pockets form and fill with more bacteria and pus. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed. The teeth may become loose or have to be removed. In fact, periodontal (gum) disease is a main cause of tooth loss in adults.

One way to prevent tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease is by eating a balanced diet and limiting the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.

What are some tips for daily oral care?
The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces.

Brush your teeth twice a day, with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth, allowing you to reach all areas easily. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. When choosing any dental product, look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, an important symbol of a dental product’s safety and effectiveness.

Cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners removes plaque from between the teeth, areas where the toothbrush can’t reach. It is essential in preventing periodontal (gum) disease.

By taking care of your teeth, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly, you can have healthy teeth and an attractive smile your entire life. Follow these tips to keep your teeth and mouth clean:

How do I brush my teeth?

  • Proper tooth brushing technique.Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Use the “toe” of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

How do I floss my teeth?

  • Proper tooth flossing technique.Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
  • Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  • Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions.
  • Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.
  • Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.

People who have difficulty handling dental floss may prefer to use another kind of interdental cleaner. These aids include special brushes, picks or sticks. If you use interdental cleaners, ask your dentist about how to use them properly, to avoid injuring your gums.

Halitosis/Chronic Bad Breath

Halitosis is bad breath that can be caused by smoking, poor dental hygiene, alcoholism, throat infection, dental infection, sinus infection, lung infection, gum disease, an impacted tooth and a foreign body in the nose (children). Flossing, brushing, and regular dental visits, can reduce this problem.is most often caused by the breakdown of food particles by bacteria that inhabit our mouths. These bacteria are often found under plaque, in the spaces between teeth and gums and in the deeper crevices on your tongue. As the bacteria feed on food debris, they produce a byproduct called volatile sulfur compounds (VSC), which includes gases such as hydrogen sulfide — which smells like rotten eggs!

Bad breath is also associated with periodontal disease (gum disease). Pockets are formed in the gums around teeth, and these begin to widen, and break down adjacent gum tissue. The deeper pockets get, the more they capture food, and provide even more places for bacteria to hide. This becomes a vicious cycle as the bacteria grow in ever-increasing pockets, which then produce more and more VSC.

The good news is that VSC can be neutralized. Dentists and other health professionals use gas measurement devices called halimeters to determine the quantities of these gases, and to determine where they are coming from. With a combination of professional dental help and special hygiene routines, most cases of halitosis can be successfully treated.

How are the treatments performed?

Your dentist will tailor the procedure to fit your specific case, but the following information will help you understand some of the issues related to halitosis:

  • It is very important that you thoroughly brush and floss your teeth regularly. This helps to remove the food and dead tissue that bacteria feed on.
  • The bacteria associated with halitosis do not survive in oxygen. Plaque and periodontal pockets shield the bacteria from the oxygen circulating through your mouth. Brushing and flossing remove this plaque, exposing the bacteria to oxygen that will kill it.
  • If you have gum disease, bad breath can result. In this case, your dentist may prescribe a special irrigator used to flush out the pockets in your gums. Your dentist or hygienist will teach you how to use the device for best results.
  • Bad breath can also be caused by a sticky plaque and food buildup on the back of the tongue and may appear white. This is the most noticeable when your ill. If this is causing your problem, your dentist may suggest that you use a special tongue-scraping device for cleaning your tongue. You can obtain this device from you dentist, hygienist, or click here to order them for yourself.
  • Chewing gum and breath mints can also help eliminate breath odor, but not in the way you might expect, by masking it. Gum and mints increase saliva flow, helping to wash away bacteria. That’s why you wake up with “morning breath.” When saliva flow decreases during sleep, bacteria grow more rapidly. However, use mints sparingly because an excessive amount of either could promote tooth decay, and chewing gum isn’t always good for your joints.
  • If you have a very dry mouth, your dentist may prescribe artificial saliva. Drinking more fluids helps as well.

How long do the treatments take, and is there any pain?

A good oral hygiene routine doesn’t take much time. Depending on the source of your problem, you may need to use artificial saliva, frequently scrape your tongue, irrigate your gums, or simply brush and floss more often. Most people report their treatments are easy and comfortable. Afterward, you can look forward to the confidence that comes from knowing you have cleaner, fresher-smelling breath.

Where will the treatments be performed?

After determining the source of your problem, the necessary procedures will first be demonstrated in your dentist’s office so that you can carry them out at home. In more severe cases, you may need to be referred to a specialist.

Ideal candidate:

In general, the best candidates for halitosis treatments are people who are:

  • Seeking help for their halitosis problems.
  • Willing to do their part daily in order to improve their breath.
  • Realistic in their expectations.

The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your dentist or hygienist may consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you.
Be sure to ask your dentist or hygienist if he / she considers you an ideal candidate for this procedure.

Other important information:

Contrary to popular opinion, mouthwash is not a good solution to bad breath. Mouthwashes can temporarily mask the odor, but most mouthwashes have high alcohol content. The alcohol dries out oral tissue – making bad breath even worse!

Many halitosis solutions involve reducing bacteria. It is important to understand that while too much bacteria can lead to foul odor, you do not want to completely eliminate all bacteria. A small amount of bacteria helps control the levels of harmful microorganisms such as the yeast-like organism, Candida.

Keep in mind that bad breath can also signal a medical disorder such as a respiratory tract infection, sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, and liver disease or kidney ailment. If your breath does not improve with dental treatment, or if you have other symptoms, it is important that you see a qualified doctor without delay.

Risks and Limitations:

The real risk is not developing a good oral hygiene routine. Failure to do so could lead to the decay of your teeth and gums causing mobility or tooth lose, as well as worsening halitosis.


Your cost may be as simple as a periodic dental cleaning. But in more severe cases, the cost may be more depending on the severity and number of visits needed. Check with your dental professional.

Make your dream smile a reality!

Serving the communities of St. Petersburg, FL and Clearwater, FL