Teeth Cleaning Tacoma, WA

Teeth cleanings should be scheduled with our Tacoma office twice a year. While you’re here on this visit, our dental hygienist will remove plaque from your teeth, especially where brushing can’t reach such as underneath the gum and in between teeth.  After the dental cleaning is complete we apply fluoride to help protect your teeth once you leave the office.

Fluoride is a relatively recent but important advancement in dental health.  Research shows that moderate and consistent exposure to fluoride helps to strengthen and rebuild tooth structure and helps in preventing cavities.

Q. How often do I need to get my teeth cleaned?
A.Teeth cleanings are generally scheduled and recommended every 6 months.  However, your hygienist may suggest dental cleanings every 3 to 4 months depending on the condition of your gums.

How often do you really need to go to the dentist?

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends visiting the dentist at least twice a year — this is also our recommendation. With that said, you may wonder if this is right and/or necessary for you personally. The short answer is yes, however, a study from the Journal of Dental Research suggests that the frequency of dental visits should be tailored to each person’s risk for periodontal disease.

The findings from the study found that if you are low-risk patient, a yearly prophylactic visit may be sufficient in preventing tooth loss. And, if you are a patient with multiple risk factors, two visits a year might not be enough to reduce tooth loss. Some factors that will make someone high risk are smoking and diabetes.

The study was good for emphasizing the need for personalized care; however, it was criticized for not addressing the subjects’ oral hygiene habits, which is another huge factor to tooth loss. Another point to make is that the study did not address tooth decay and the ideal frequency of dental visits in preventing cavities.

The major take-away from the study is that every patient is different and thus treatment and treatment frequency will be different. Talk to the dentist on your next visit about the best preventative regimen for you and your family.

How To Brush Your Teeth

So you think you know what you’re doing–after all you have been brushing your teeth for years, right?  You’ve done it for so long you don’t even think about it.  But brushing correctly is crucial to your oral health so taking a few minutes to review tips for brushing is a good idea.  Like they say, anything worth doing is worth doing well and when it comes to brushing, the payoff is worth smiling about.

Brush at least two minutes, two times a day, and three times is even better.  Most of us are not brushing for at least two minutes.  If you don’t feel like you’re being thorough enough and brushing long enough, you might want to try an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer.  Divide your mouth into four sections and spend 30 seconds on each.

Choose a brush with soft bristles and one that isn’t too big for your mouth.  It should fit comfortably inside your mouth without the need for opening your mouth too wide.  Remember to replace your brush every 3 to 4 months.  A worn out toothbrush is not going to do a good job at cleaning your teeth.

The proper technique is to hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums and move the brush in short strokes and don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and to keep your breath fresh.

Most of us start in the same place every time we brush.  Switch it up and start in different places.  Toward the end of our sessions we may get bored giving little attention to the last area– you don’t want that area to always be the same one.  Mainly just make it a point to pay attention to your brushing to ensure you’re covering all areas thoroughly.

And lastly, keep your brush clean.  You don’t want to put germs from your mouth back into your mouth when you brush again.  Rinse off the brush and let it air dry.  Don’t put it in a case where it will stay damp and don’t put it on a dirty surface.  Store it in a cup or toothbrush holder.

If you have concerns about brushing or the best products to use, talk to the dentist on your next visit or give us a call anytime!

How To Effectively Floss Your Teeth

You’ve heard it many times while at the dentist: How often do you floss? After reluctantly admitting that you don’t floss enough, you are instructed on the importance of flossing daily.  However just flossing isn’t good enough, you also need to be flossing properly.  Proper flossing is a huge key to your oral health.

Brushing is very important but brushing alone does not get rid of all the bits of food and bacteria from in-between your teeth.  Bacteria left around your teeth for long periods of time can cause periodontal disease.

To properly floss:

  1. Use approximately 18 inches of floss and wrap the ends around your index fingers tightly.
  2. Grab the floss with your index fingers and thumb and gently slide the floss between your teeth.  Make sure you floss between all your teeth, being careful to not be too aggressive.  You want to gently rub the floss between the gum line and the teeth.
  3. Move the floss in a “c” motion, up and down, and back and forth.  Let the floss dip below the gum line (2-3 millimeters) so that you’re reaching the contours of each tooth.
  4. Unravel a bit of floss for each tooth so that you’re using a new, clean piece on each tooth.
  5. Don’t forget the back of your rear molars, this spot is often forgotten and gum disease and decay are common in these hard to reach areas.
  6. Rinse your mouth out with water to help remove any stray particles.

If your gums bleed after flossing, do not give up; it’s actually a sign that you need to floss more.  Make sure you floss at least once a day!  The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests flossing for 2-3 minutes.   This small amount of time each day devoted to flossing will go a long way in keeping your mouth healthy!

What Kind of Toothpaste Should I Use?

There are many toothpaste options in the oral care aisle and this makes it difficult to know which kind and which brand is the best choice for you and your family.  First and foremost, choose a toothpaste that has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal on the box.  This means that it has been tested and the claims made are legit.  Other than that, the choice that is going to be best for you should be based on your individual issues and concerns.

Cavities, Cavities, Cavities

If you have an issue with cavities, your battle is against a nasty sticky film called plaque.  Plaque interacts with certain foods (mainly sugary foods) and produces acids that eat away at the enamel on your teeth.  You should choose a toothpaste that contains mineral fluoride with the ADA seal and claims to be ant-cavity.

Yellow Teeth

Since most of us would like to have a whiter smile, whitening toothpastes have become very popular.  Whitening toothpaste contains mild abrasives that help fight against staining.  However, they don’t have much of an impact on older stains.  If you are not satisfied with the results you receive, ask the dentist about options available in the office.

Tartar Buildup

Tarter is a result of plaque that has hardened.  Once tarter has formed the only way to get rid of it is in the dentist chair.  But there are toothpastes that contain pyrophosphates or zinc citrate that help in preventing the plaque from hardening.

The next time you are in for a teeth cleaning, talk to the dentist about the best toothpaste for you and your family.  Different members of the family may want to use different toothpastes depending on individual needs and concerns.

Sensitive Teeth

If you have sensitive teeth, talk to your dentist to find out exactly why.  You could be brushing too hard or you might have exposed roots or sensitive gums.  Your dentist may suggest a brand that contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate that will help with your sensitivity.  The ADA approved several brands with these ingredients.

Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity occurs when gums pull back leaving the surface beneath the gums called the dentin exposed.  This area under the gums is connected to the pulp or nerve center.  When this area is exposed to hot or cold foods you’re likely to feel discomfort or pain.  

Common Causes for Tooth Sensitivity:

Steps That Can Reduce Tooth Sensitivity:

  • Brush and floss regularly and use proper technique
  • Use a soft-bristled brush and be gentle on your gums
  • Use a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks
  • Use a mouth guard at night to prevent grinding your teeth
  • Get regular in-office cleanings at least every 6 months

Talk to the dentist about your teeth sensitivity and discomfort level, especially if steps you have taken to relieve the pain have not been successful.  There are other procedures that she may recommend that can help.

When Should I Replace My Toothbrush?

There are some things we don’t necessarily care to know about—like for example what is lingering on our toothbrush.  If this is knowledge you just can’t stomach, skip down to the bullet point list below so you don’t miss the information you really need, which is how to take proper care of your toothbrush…and for sure don’t read the info in italics.  Okay, we’re kidding, read all of this – it’s important!

If someone is sick, viruses and bacteria can live on the infected person’s toothbrush for weeks and what’s worse these viruses and bacteria can continue to cause illness.  Even healthy microorganisms can cause infections.  This is especially true if they enter your gums due to a cut or break in the gum tissue.

Did you know: It’s not required that toothbrushes come in sterile packaging, so even brand new brushes potentially contain bacteria right out of the box.  This little tidbit is right from the ADA’s official statement on toothbrush care.

Care for your toothbrush:

  • Keep it clean.  Thoroughly rinse off your toothbrush after every use. You may also want to soak it in antibacterial mouthwash.  Heck, you can even throw it in the dishwasher.  There are also toothbrush sanitizers available that you might want to invest in.
  • Store it properly.  Don’t just throw your toothbrush in the cupboard after use.  Store it upright in a cup or rack so that it can dry out.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 or 4 months.
  • Replace your toothbrush right away if you’ve been sick.
  • NO SHARING.  You may be very close to your family, but sharing a toothbrush is too close.  There’s no one you should be sharing a toothbrush with.

Did you know: Tooth decay is an infectious disease….so don’t share that brush!

Keep in mind that South Sound Dental also does other types of dental treatments other than teeth cleaning. Click here to look at all of our dental treatments.