Caring for yourmouth [ [ Good oral health is important to your overall health. In fact, gum disease has been linked to many health conditions like heart disease and stroke, respiratory diseases, diabetes mellitus, and low birth weight in babies (Health Canada, 2009). Regular use of oral care products according to established guidelines is the key to good oral health. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss help keep your teeth clean and prevent conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease. A wide variety of oral care products are available to choose from. Consult your dentist or dental hygienist if you’re having trouble choosing the right product. Consider the following guidelines when choosing your oral care products. TOOTHBRUSHES: Proper brushing helps remove food and plaque from teeth, and stimulates the gums to keep them healthy. Look for following features when choosing a toothbrush: •B e sure to select a toothbrush with a head size that can be easily moved around in the mouth. For example, choose a very small head for a very young child. •C hoose a toothbrush that has soft bristles so you won’t hurt your gums. It also should have a long, wide handle for a firm grasp. TOOTHPASTES: There are many types of toothpastes for different dental needs. The purpose of toothpaste is to work with the toothbrush in the removal of food, stains, and plaque. Toothpastes are available for sensitive teeth, to control tartar formation, and to whiten teeth. It’s important to look for the Canadian Dental Association seal on the toothpaste tube. No matter what toothpaste you use, Health Canada (2010) recommends: •B rush twice daily and replace your toothbrush every three to four months or earlier if the bristles begin to look worn. • A dults: Use only a pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. • C hildren three to six years of age: Use only a rice sized amount of fluoridated tooth paste and should be supervised while brushing. • C hildren under three years of age: Use a toothbrush moistened only with water. Teeth should be brushed by an adult. In addition to being fun to use, power toothbrushes make it easier to brush correctly. They’re also easier to use for people with medical conditions TOOTHBRUSHES like arthritis and work well for people with braces and other orthodontic appliances. Manual toothbrushes are as effective as power toothbrushes. Correct brushing technique is more important than the type of toothbrush (Penick, 2003). CHOOSE THE CDA SEAL OF RECOGNITION ON ORAL CARE PRODUCTS Oral care products (from toothbrushes to mouthwashes) that carry the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) Seal of Recognition have been reviewed by the CDA and have shown specific oral health benefits. For a list of oral health products that have been reviewed and recognized by the CDA, visit https://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/seal/ products/ INTERDENTAL CLEANING PRODUCTS: Dental floss helps to clean between teeth where the toothbrush cannot reach. This allows the saliva to flow to help keep teeth clean with a natural washing action. It also helps to massage the gums which keeps them strong and healthy. There is a wide choice available for these products, including waxed and unwaxed, flavoured and scented, shred resistant, and whitening floss. Also, a variety of specialty items such as dental tape, floss threaders, and floss holders are available. You should choose the product that is best suited for your needs. You can discuss these products with your dentist or hygienist who will help you to include them into your regular oral care routine. MOUTH RINSES: The best way to get rid of plaque is through brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, but mouth rinses can be helpful as an extra method of cleaning. There are many different mouth rinses available: simple mouthwashes that fight bad breath, fluoride mouthwashes that coat the teeth in fluoride, and antiseptic mouthwashes that fight conditions such as plaque and gingivitis. Mouth rinses, especially the ones that contain fluoride or alcohol, are not recommended for children under six years of age. TEETH WHITENING PRODUCTS: Although teeth are not naturally meant to be completely white, many of us want a brighter smile. A wide variety of teeth whitening products are available today. Before buying any tooth whitener, you should consult your dentist who will take into account your oral health conditions and recommend the right one for you. The two most common whiteners are: Surface Whiteners: These products use special abrasives to help remove surface stains. Toothpastes and chewing gums are the most common ones. They are usually effective on surface stains. It should not be used as an alternate for professional cleaning. Also, any abrasive whitener will remove tooth enamel over time. Bleaches: Most of these products are peroxide-based and change the colour of the tooth itself. However, not all tooth discolourations respond to tooth-bleaching treatments. Depending on how many teeth are stained and how much they are stained, your dentist may suggest: • Putting a bleach agent on your stained teeth and using heat (or heat and light) to start the bleaching action. This is done at the dental office. • Wearing a custom-made mouth guard filled with a bleaching solution for part of each day. This is done at home but your dentist will give you a kit with all the instructions. • Brushing with toothpaste which contains a bleaching agent. Home tooth whitening kits are also available. These are similar to those used in the dentist’s office, but the concentrations of the active ingredients are lower. Health Canada recommends that it’s important to follow the instructions on the product and not use the product for more than 14 days without consulting a dentist. There are many oral care products but remember to pick the product that is right for you and your family. It’s important to know what you want and what product can help you get the best possible result. KEY REFERENCES: Penick, C. (2003). Powered toothbrushes: a critical review. International Journal of Dental Hygiene, 2, 40-44. Health Canada. (2009). It’s your Health: The Effects of Oral Health on Overall Health. Retrieved July 26, 2011, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/alt_formats/pacrb-dgapcr/pdf/iyh-vsv/life-vie/dent-eng.pdf Health Canada. (2010). It’s your Health: Fluoride and Human Health. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/environ/fluor-eng.php Ontario Dental Association. (2010). Personal oral care. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from http://www.youroralhealth.ca/personal-oral-care.html Canadian Dental Association. Teeth whitening. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/procedures/teeth_whitening/index.asp Health Canada. (2009). It’s your Health: The Safe Use of Home Tooth Whitening Kits. Retrieved July 26, 2011, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/life-vie/teeth-dents-eng.php The key to having great teeth and preventing any dental problems is to brush your teeth twice a day, floss at least once every 24 hours, and have a routine annual dental check up. © Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, January 2015.
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