Oral hygiene is critical to maintaining good oral health; it’s one of the best investments you can make in your health and happiness. Following the recommended best practices daily can preserve your teeth, keep your gums healthy, and help preserve your overall health. Maintaining dental implants is also critical so you can enjoy their benefits for life. 

At PermaDent, we want to help all our patients understand the importance of good oral hygiene, whether for their natural teeth or dental implants. We’ll run through the oral hygiene recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA) and help you understand how they might be different if you have dental implants.

Brush Teeth Twice Daily with Fluoride Toothpaste for Two Minutes

adult woman looking in the mirror and brushing her teethThe ADA is very firm on this recommendation, which includes brushing often enough for a long enough time with the right tools. The ADA notes that each part of the recommendation is based on strong scientific evidence. 

Studies show that brushing twice daily can reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease compared to less frequent brushing. For gum disease, this includes reducing the risk of receding gums, severe gum disease, and periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss. Gum disease is also the leading cause of dental implant failure. It’s often called peri-implantitis when it affects dental implants. Remember to brush your teeth twice daily when you have dental implants. 

Fluoride toothpaste can reduce your risk of cavities by up to 30%. This comes from studies comparing fluoride toothpaste to toothpaste without fluoride and a placebo. If you don’t have any natural teeth remaining, this suggestion is less critical. Dental implants don’t develop cavities. However, it’s still worth using fluoride toothpaste even if you have just a few natural teeth. It will not harm your dental implants. 

Studies show that brushing your teeth for at least two minutes removes more plaque than brushing for a shorter period. Since plaque contains oral bacteria that can cause cavities, this can also reduce your cavity risk. If you only have dental implants, you might be able to reduce the time you spend brushing, but it’s probably not worth it. Two minutes is a relatively short time to devote to brushing twice daily. It’s worth the trouble to protect your investment in dental implants. 

How to Brush Your Teeth

The ADA also recommends other aspects of tooth brushing, even though they don’t have strong scientific evidence. Most dentists agree on two aspects of the toothbrushing technique: brushing all sides of the teeth and brushing at a 45-degree angle to your gums.

Brushing all sides of your teeth means brushing the side on the lingual, buccal, and occlusal sides. The lingual side is the side nearest your tongue, the one inside your arch of teeth. The buccal side is the side nearest your cheeks, the one on the outside of your arch. The occlusal side is the side that does the chewing–the sharp and/or flat parts that face the other teeth. 

You should brush your teeth with the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums to help you clean the plaque that accumulates at the base of your teeth. This can help you avoid gum disease and cavities. 

You can try other techniques, but dentists disagree with them. For some, an electric toothbrush might be helpful. Some people benefit from brushing more than twice a day. 

Another possibility to consider is brushing your tongue. This may help control bad breath. However, evidence suggests that oral bacteria are relatively specialized, and the bacteria on your tongue might not colonize your teeth and gums, so brushing your tongue might not help your oral health much. 

Clean Between Your Teeth Every Day

Toothbrushing is great at getting the lingual, buccal, and occlusal sides of teeth, but it’s not good at cleaning the proximal sides of teeth. These are the sides that face adjacent teeth. You need to clean these surfaces at least once a day. There are multiple ways to do this, and there’s not enough evidence to support one over the others. 

Flossing is the most common way to clean between teeth. It can be very effective at removing plaque between teeth. However, it can take a lot of work to do correctly. Flossing poorly may not protect your teeth and gums, so dentists say there is no stronger evidence supporting the benefits of flossing. 

Consider trying other alternatives if you’re not getting the spaces between your teeth clean enough. Dental flossers can help make reaching the spaces between your teeth easier. Water flossers can also help you clean around your teeth. Finally, interproximal brushes might be more effective than dental floss. 

However, it’s most important to choose a cleaning method that you will use. 

When you have dental implants, cleaning around them is crucial to avoid developing gum disease. Flossing techniques for cleaning around a dental implant might differ from cleaning around teeth and might take practice to perfect. 

Mouthwash May Not Help

There isn’t good evidence that everyone would benefit from using mouthwash. However, for people with an elevated risk of cavities–especially children–mouthwash can help reduce that risk. 

Do not use a mouthwash without asking your dentist first. It’s best to wait for your dentist to recommend a mouthwash before starting. In some cases, alcohol-based mouthwashes might harm your oral health.

Your Diet Impacts Your Oral Health

Don’t forget that what you eat will affect your oral health. The ADA recommends avoiding eating large amounts of added sugar as part of its oral hygiene recommendations. Various oral bacteria will eat essentially anything in your food. However, the most harmful ones prosper when your diet has a lot of free sugar.

Regular Dental Visits Help

Some people think there’s no reason to see a dentist if they don’t have a specific problem with their teeth and gums. However, there are three significant benefits to seeing your dentist regularly:

  • Remove deposits you can’t safely remove yourself
  • Evaluate your oral hygiene technique
  • Detect dental problems early

When you don’t remove all the plaque from your teeth when brushing and flossing, it absorbs minerals from your saliva, becoming rock-hard. Hardened plaque is called tartar and is very difficult to remove safely at home. 

When you visit your dentist, they can look at the pattern of plaque, tartar, and other signs to determine any problems with your oral hygiene. Your dentist can then recommend changes to your technique to improve your oral health. 

Detecting dental problems early can help you avoid expensive treatment. The first signs of a cavity might just require hygiene changes to stop its progression. Left untreated, though, it can become a large cavity requiring a filling or crown. It might even lead to an infected tooth that needs root canal therapy. 

Detecting problems early is especially important for dental implants. They may not be able to recover as well from early gum disease as natural teeth. If you have dental implants, you should make your twice-yearly dental appointments, and if you are at high risk for gum disease, we might recommend additional visits each year.

Questions about Oral Surgery

If you have ongoing questions about oral surgery, including how your procedure might impact oral hygiene recommendations, PermaDent is here to help. 

Please call (310) 325-9969 or use our online form today to request an appointment at our office in Torrance, CA.