Proper oral hygiene is foundation of healthy teeth

| July 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

Spc. Kayla Sutton uses specialized hygiene instruments to remove plaque from her patient’s teeth.

Story and photos by
Capt. Emily A. Bragg, DMD
Na Koa Dental Clinic
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Your oral hygiene routine is important in maintaining your oral health, preventing disease and having a beautiful healthy smile, free of bad breath.

The daily demands of military life can limit your ability to make time for your oral hygiene, but even in difficult environments, such as field training or deployments, it is imperative that you continue to brush and floss.

Lack of proper oral hygiene and good nutrition may lead to gum disease, cavities, sensitivity, pain or even tooth loss. The film that accumulates on your teeth is called plaque, which contains bacteria. This bacteria, along with sugars and carbohydrates, can deposit acid on the tooth and break down tooth structure to cause cavities.

Tartar or calculus is plaque that has hardened over time and can only be removed by a dental professional. Plaque and tartar may also irritate the tissues supporting your teeth, leading to cause gum disease. The objective of oral hygiene is removal of plaque, food debris and tartar.

How to brush
It is recommended by the American Dental Association to brush twice daily with a soft-bristle toothbrush for at least two minutes, using toothpaste that contains fluoride. Your toothbrush can be manual or electronic, and should be placed at a 45 degree angle to your gum line.

Move the toothbrush back and forth with gentle strokes, reaching every surface of each tooth, including the outer, inner and chewing surfaces. After brushing is finished, the teeth should feel smooth and glossy. If the teeth feel fuzzy to the tongue, you may have missed plaque.

How to floss
Flossing is especially important in removing plaque and food debris between teeth and below the gums that brushing alone may have missed, or where the bristles cannot reach.

The proper way to floss is to break off about 18 inches, or a forearm’s length, of floss and wrap each end around the middle fingers of both hands. Gently glide the floss between your teeth, cupping the surface of one tooth and move in a scrubbing motion.

Next, cup the surface of the adjacent tooth and do the same. The goal is to remove debris and plaque, so quickly snapping the floss through is not enough. Bleeding is common, especially if you have not flossed recently, but with dedicated and continued flossing, the bleeding should subside.

Our mission is to provide responsive and reliable oral and dental health services to sustain the readiness of the Force.

Point of Contact
If you are active duty and would like to speak to a dental professional or schedule to your annual exam, please call the dental appointment hotline at 433-6825.

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Category: Health

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