Teeth for a Lifetime

Thanks to better at-home care and in-office dental treatments, more people are keeping their teeth throughout their lives. Some diseases and conditions can make dental disease and tooth loss more likely. But most of us have a good deal of control over whether we keep our teeth into old age.

The most important thing you can do is to brush and floss your teeth each day.

Most mouth woes are caused by plaque. Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria, bits of food and other organic matter that forms on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque make acids that cause cavities. Plaque also leads to periodontal (gum) disease. This can become a serious infection. It can damage bone and destroy the tissues around your teeth.

The best defense is to remove plaque before it has a chance to build up and cause problems. Brushing removes plaque from the large surfaces of the teeth and from just under the gums. Flossing removes plaque from between your teeth. You also can use other tools to keep your mouth and teeth clean.

Brushing

Most of us learned to brush our teeth when we were children. We have stuck with the same brushing technique into adulthood. Unfortunately, many of us learned how to brush the wrong way. And even if we learned the right way, we might not always stick to it. Brushing correctly is tricky. You want to remove plaque without brushing too hard and damaging your gums.

There are different ways to brush correctly. Your dentist or dental hygienist can show you the method that might be best for you.

The modified Bass technique (below) is among the most popular for adults. Parents should supervise their children’s brushing until age 9 or 10. Here are a few general pointers about brushing.