Dental hygenist Chasidy Farmer demonstrates cleaning techniques on her collegue Dawnya Brown at Bohle Family Dentistry in Paducah Tuesday. LANCE DENNEE/The Sun
It may seem basic, and it is: Brushing teeth is a task that most people learn at a very early age and keep up with faithfully throughout their entire lives.
But sometimes, when something seems so basic, so easy or so routine, mistakes can be made and bad habits develop.
Good dental care, says Dr. Charles Bohle, begins with choosing the right toothbrush and toothpaste and flossing regularly. Bohle, whose practice is located at 19th Street and Broadway in Paducah, takes time to review the basics of taking care of your teeth and gums.
n First, choose a soft-bristle brush.
“Anything more firm than that can just damage your gums or your teeth,” he said. “We wish they didn’t sell anything stronger, but they make firms and mediums.”
An electric or manual toothbrush doesn’t matter, but the grip should fit your hand.
“Everyone has different characteristics in their teeth,” Bohle said. “Find one (a brush) that works in your mouth. Then you’re more likely to use it.”
n Change your toothbrush at least every six months.
That’s recommended; but in some cases replacing a toothbrush could come soon than later. “If you get strep throat or you have a cold or a virus, you should change your toothbrush after your cold is over,” Bohle said.
n When choosing a toothpaste, take a careful look at the box.
“You want to use a toothpaste that has fluoride in it,” Bohle said, “and you want to use a toothpaste recommended by the American Dental Association. It has that seal on it.
“You can’t go wrong with Colgate, Crest, Aquafresh, any of the main brands like that. What you want to beware of is some of the off-brand whitening toothpastes in that they’re too abrasive.”
Some pediatricians recommend avoiding fluoride toothpaste for children small enough to swallow the toothpaste. Although it’s a sensible caution, Bohle said today’s manufacturers make toothpaste so safe that a child could eat the entire tube and not become sick from the fluoride.
Although some toothpastes test as slightly acidic, that acid can’t harm your teeth, Bohle said. Many foods, including vinegar, are slightly acidic but not harmful, he said. It also doesn’t matter whether it’s a gel or a paste, he said. Toothpastes all work the same way, as detergents and as lubricants to help remove plaque.
Toothpastes that advertise tartar control may be a good idea for those susceptible to tartar buildup, but Bohle said it usually takes experimenting with a few different brands to find the one that works best for you.
Finally, he said. “Try to find a toothpaste that you like the flavor of. You’re more likely to use it.”
n Getting it, what is stuck between teeth
The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Many people don’t realize the importance of flossing, Bohle said.
“Brushing cleans only roughly 50 percent of the surfaces of the teeth in your mouth, so you have to floss to finish that process,” he said.
Anti-bacterial mouthwashes such as Listerine can also be helpful because they help decrease the number of bacteria on the teeth, Bohle said. Some rinses have fluoride in them, which can help harden teeth enamel and prevent decay.
But no matter how good you’re taking care of your teeth at home, regular dental visits are important. Bohle said most people need to visit twice a year, with teeth X-rays on one of those visits. He also recommends a full mouth X-ray every three to five years that shows all the teeth and their roots.
Contact Shelley Byrne, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8667.SNbS