In addition to regular visits to a dentist, the best prevention for periodontal disease takes place at home. Healthy habits and good oral hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing, are critical in preventing gum disease and maintaining good oral health after periodontal treatment.
Correct tooth brushing is the first defense against periodontal disease. Here are some tips for making sure you brush correctly:
- Use a soft-bristled brush that fits the size and shape of your mouth. Place the brush where the gum meets the tooth, with bristles resting along each tooth at a 45-degree angle.
- Place the brush where the gum meets the tooth, with bristles resting along each tooth at a 45-degree angle.
- Move the brush back and forth gently. Use short (tooth-wide) strokes.
- Begin by brushing the outer tooth surfaces, followed by the inner tooth surfaces, and then the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- For the inside surfaces of the front teeth, gently use the tip of the brush in an up-and-down stroke.
- Brush your tongue to help remove additional bacteria.
- Flossing should finish the process. A mouthwash may also be used.
If brushing after each meal is not possible, rinsing the mouth with water after eating can reduce bacteria by 30%.
Toothbrushes. A vast assortment of brushes of varying sizes and shapes are available, and each manufacturer makes its claim for the benefits of a particular brush. Look for the American Dental Association (ADA) seal on both electric and regular brushes.
Electric toothbrushes, particularly those with a stationary grip and revolving tufts of bristles, can be helpful, especially for people with physical disabilities. However, in general, studies have reported no major differences between electric and manual toothbrushes in their ability to remove plaque. If a regular toothbrush works, it isn't necessary to buy an expensive electric one.
Review Date: 02/16/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.