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Fact Sheets

Brush and floss your teeth every day.

The keys to keeping your teeth happy and healthy.

Brushing and flossing your teeth are the very best ways to preserve the health and longevity of your teeth. Plaque is your mouth's number one enemy. It's a tenacious film of saliva and bacteria that clings to your teeth and gums, leaving cavities and gum disease in its wake. If you don't show it who's boss by brushing and flossing regularly, it will thrive in its favorite environment: your mouth.

Healthy gums and bones hold our teeth firmly in place. The gums actually attach to the tooth just below the visible edge of the gum, and gum disease affects these attachments.

You may have gum disease right now and not even know it. Nine out of ten adults will develop gum disease sometime in their lives. It is the most common adult dental problem and is a major cause of adult tooth loss.

The right way to brush your teeth
Always use a soft-bristled brush. Put your brush next to the teeth at a 45-degree angle. Move the brush back and forth in short strokes, several times for each side of each tooth, and brush the back teeth on all sides. Dentists agree: brush for at least two minutes — less just doesn't cut it. To get the most plaque-removing mileage out of those bristles, replace your brush every three months. Electric brushes might make brushing a little easier, but they don't let you off the hook. You still need those two minutes. Time is the issue, not speed. Electric toothbrushes cannot reduce the amount of time required for brushing.

lf plaque is not removed every day by brushing and flossing. It hardens into tartar (also called calculus).

Calculus attaches like a barnacle on the hull of a ship, making it ver y difficult to remove. If not removed, more toxins are produced and pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) develop. These become breeding grounds for infection. The gums may get puffy, traces of blood may be found on your toothbrush or the gums may change colour. Despite this, there will probably be no discomfort!

The truth about flossing
Floss is as important as a toothbrush in fighting tooth decay and gum disease. Experts advise flossing twice a day. If you haven't flossed in awhile, your gums may bleed when you do. This means your gums are inflamed and bacteria are present. Be happy. It means you've cleaned out the built-up stuff and taken the first step toward strengthening your gums. After a time or two, the bleeding will quit. Oral irrigators and toothpicks are not a substitute for floss.

Choosing the right toothpaste
The first consideration in choosing any toothpaste, of course, is being sure that if contains fluoride and has the Canadian Dental Association Seal of Approval. Products with the CDA Seal have met the CDA's requirements for safety and effectiveness. All CDA recognized toothpastes contain a mild abrasive that works with your toothbrush to remove plaque. These abrasives in toothpastes do not cause enamel to wear away. More likely, enamel erosion occurs as a result of over-vigorous brushing. Tartar control toothpastes help prevent tartar (hardened plaque that may cause gum disease) from forming.

Some studies have shown they can reduce tartar as much as 36 percent. But these toothpastes do not remove tartar. Only a pro - fessional tooth cleaning can do that, Desen - sitizing toothpastes can reduce the tube-like channels that pass through the teeth and connect to nerves, or reduce the ability of the nerves to transmit pain. While these toothpastes can make it easier for patients with sensitive teeth to tolerate hot and cold drinks and food, it may be four to six weeks before improvement is noticed.

To find out more about brushing and flossing, talk to your dentist. We care about you and your teeth.

This information courtesy of your Manitoba Dentist.