Whether you have perfect dental health or could use some improvement, the Ultimate Oral Hygiene Guide was created by Buffalo Dentist Dr. Douglas Hamill to give patients an insight into maintaining optimum oral health.
Poor dental hygiene is the primary cause of tooth decay, gum infections, tooth pain, periodontal disease, and other oral health conditions. What most people don’t realize is that poor oral health can also negatively affect your overall health as well. According to recent studies, poor oral health can contribute to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pregnancy complications, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even mental health problems.
The good news is, there is a lot you can do to keep your dental health in order. The American Dental Association advises everyone to schedule checkups with his or her local dentist at least twice a year. These visits can help to identify any conditions and diseases before they emerge, keeping your dental health in check. Your dentist is limited, though, if you do not take proper care of your teeth in between appointments. This is why at-home dental care is so important.
Having healthy teeth and gums can save you from a long list of painful and permanent dental conditions. You do this by creating a routine at home that includes brushing, flossing, and rinsing with a mouthwash. Here at our office, we provide preventative care that works best when patients do their due diligence to care for their teeth at home. In this dental hygiene eBook, we will walk you through what you can do to ensure a healthy and beautiful smile for years to come.
At-Home Care | Ultimate Oral Hygiene Guide
Taking Care of Teeth Between Dental Checkups
We should be spending at least two full minutes brushing our teeth and changing up what we do in terms of how we brush. We are used to brushing them the same way every day, so if there’s an area that your hygienist or your dentist shows you that you’re having a little bit of bleeding, inflammation, that’s where you should start when you’re brushing your teeth. Then next time you come in, they will make a note in your chart to see if that area is better.
Brushing Your Teeth
Everyone should be brushing their teeth at least twice a day. If you can, bring a toothbrush to work with you. Also, if you are in the area, you can always stop by our office and get a new toothbrush free of charge. We love seeing our existing patients and meeting new patients. We are always happy to provide free consultations if you have any questions about your oral health.
Changing Your Toothbrush
At our office, we provide free toothbrushes to our patients at every visit. We see patients here every three to six months and that is the timeframe recommended to change your toothbrush. If you recently had a cold or the flu, we always recommend changing your toothbrush. Again, we always encourage people to stop in and visit our office to receive a new toothbrush, free of charge.
We always encourage patients to make sure that they floss gently and happily go over proper flossing techniques with our patients. In between every patient’s teeth, you need to floss on either side of the tooth, not just in between. Because the bacteria are removed, I recommend using the floss before you brush, so that the toothpaste goes in between the teeth. You should floss every day to get in the habit. I often hear from patients that come in and they’ll say they only floss when something is stuck, but we always encourage them to get in the habit of flossing at least once a day, and preferably after every meal. We recommend this because if you do not remove a piece of food for a long period of time, then it can develop into a gum problem or a cavity over time.
The first thing we usually ask patients when they have dentures is if they take them out at night. We always recommend taking your dentures out at night because if you don’t, you can get sores in your mouth. When a patient comes in for an appointment, we have them take them out – if they’re comfortable with that – and then we put them in an ultrasonic cleaner to thoroughly clean and disinfect them. Once they’re cleaned, we ensure they are comfortable for the patient, and if not, make any adjustments needed. If the patient doesn’t like the denture, we can always talk to the office manager and perform a free estimate to see if we can have a new denture made.
Seeing the Dentist | Ultimate Oral Hygiene Guide
Importance of Visiting the Dentist
At Douglas Hamill DDS, our dental hygienists have over 20 years of experience. Recently, we have noticed an increase in people being concerned about the correlation of oral health to your overall health. People are finally starting to realize your teeth are related to your heart. In years past, the heart was never mentioned in relation to your teeth or oral health but due to recent studies, these connections have been observed. We have noticed that people are getting health checkups on a much more on a regular basis, and when they do go to their doctor, they are being asked, “Are you seeing your dentist on a regular basis?”
Seeing a Dentist if You’re Teeth Are Fine
You should see a dentist even if your teeth feel fine because you may not be aware of an underlying issue that we can help identify using the latest dental technology. If you are due for x-rays, we can locate tooth decay, cavities on the teeth, and other conditions that can be dealt with early on, before they become much bigger issues down the line. I have found that people who miss their appointment or do not want x-rays, will often end up with a much bigger problem in the future. Oftentimes these problems include needing a root canal or an extraction. Preventative care is why you go to the dentist even if you feel fine. When you visit the dentist and have your teeth cleaned, and x-rays performed, it’s a relieving feeling to know that you are healthy and doing everything you can to ensure your optimal oral health.
Frequency of Dentist Visits
For pediatric patients, we recommend being seen as early as their parents are comfortable with, but the ADA recommends visiting the dentist by your child’s first birthday, or six months after their first tooth becomes visible, whichever comes first. When children come in at that age, we focus our examination more so on the inside of the mouth, not so much the teeth. Dental disease is the most common chronic disease in children and our goal is to help educate their parents and improve the child’s oral health.
We always try to get young patients used to the dentist before there is a problem. For adults, you should come in at least every six months, and should be making your follow up appointments before you leave. Life is very fast, and everyone has too many things on their agendas, so it’s nice to have an appointment set up in advance. We accommodate evening appointments, early appointments, and lunch hour appointments to make it convenient for those with busy schedules.
Scheduling a Checkup
You should always have a follow-up appointment set up in advance, so you stay on a good schedule. When visiting our office, you can set up your next check-up with our hygienist and let her know what is convenient for your schedule. Also, let them know if your availability will change during that next six months. If you do not want to make an appointment, our hygienist will make a note and a card will go out; you’ll also get a phone call. You can also go home, if you want to look at your calendar and call back or one of us will happily call you back to schedule a time that is most convenient for you.
First Initial Appointment
When scheduling your first initial appointment at our office, we require a health history form to be filled out. You can have your health history form mailed to you, which we’ll be more than happy to do. We recommend arriving at the office 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment, so you can ensure the paperwork is completed and let our office manager know what insurance you have. When you come in, if it’s just to have a dental hygiene appointment, we will ask you when your last x-rays were. If they were within the last year, then we will get four checkup x-rays to see if you have any cavities on the upper and the lower.
If there is a tooth that is bothering you, we’ll take an x-ray of that tooth and then the hygienist will clean your teeth. We will also go over any questions that you have, as far as what to do at home, or any other oral health concerns. Once our hygienists have completed their consultation, Dr. Hamill will come in, perform a thorough examination, and answer any additional questions that you have. If you are on a budget, Dr. Hamill also will work with you, and you can always voice your questions or concerns to him.
Technology Used in the Office
Some of the latest dental technology we utilize at our office includes the intraoral camera. The intraoral camera is a really good tool in helping us predict and prevent tooth loss. Using the intraoral camera, Dr. Hamill will go around every tooth and show you on the screen if you have a cavity, a broken tooth, etc. You can actually see the images on the screen in front of you, so you know exactly what is going on. At our office, we also utilize digital x-rays. Compared to the ones that were used years ago, digital x-rays are considered painless. Another nice benefit of digital x-rays is that the patients can see them right on the screen in front of them, instantly. You no longer have to wait for a diagnosis or schedule a return appointment to get the x-rays back from the lab.
Going to the Dentist While Pregnant
We highly recommend going to the dentist when you’re pregnant because when you are pregnant you are susceptible to developing what’s called pregnancy gingivitis, where the gums become very inflamed. We will not perform x-rays on pregnant women in our office, but if you had a toothache, or other serious oral health concern, we would contact your doctor to get prior approval so that we could treat you. The bacteria from your teeth, in between the teeth and your gums, should be removed regardless if you’re pregnant. If you don’t feel well, we’ll seat you properly. If you don’t want to be leaned back, we will let you sit up in the chair. We try to make your experience at our office the most comfortable and pain free experience possible.
Going to the Dentist with Diabetes
We always recommend patients who have diabetes to see the dentist regularly. We always thoroughly examine our patient’s charts, health history, and concerns, and if Dr. Hamill sees a reason in the chart, he will actually call your doctor and ask, “Is it okay if this patient has their teeth cleaned?” Diabetes shouldn’t stop you from achieving optimal oral health.
Recommendations | Ultimate Oral Hygiene Guide
Dental Care Products
Many patients come to our office asking us about dental care products we recommend. Oftentimes they will ask, “Do you recommend a regular toothbrush or an Oral B? A Sonicare?” They are your tools to take care of your teeth at home. I recently saw a first-time patient who told me that his previous dentist recommended that he get an ultrasonic toothbrush because his brushing wasn’t doing a good job. When I saw him, his teeth looked really good. I cannot compare him to the last time because it was his first time at our office, but there was no bleeding. I did see on his teeth areas where plaque used to be. Those areas were not there anymore, so it appears that the ultrasonic toothbrush was working well for him. Another recommendation we make is for patients to always brush your tongue You can use a tongue scraper, or even just a toothbrush.
For flossing, there are many different types of floss. There’s waxed, unwaxed, tape, and glide. Which floss would work best for you depends on your teeth, which we would be happy to evaluate and discs with you at your appointment. If you have tight teeth or bridgework, we also have floss threaders available.
Antiseptic mouthwash is also important to oral health. They have so many different kinds of Listerine now. I know that a lot of people don’t like the alcohol in them because of the burning or they’re going through some type of health issue, but I recommend using Listerine. Listerine recently came out with a non-alcoholic mouthwash which is less intense than their previous versions.
Also, as far as dental hygiene at home, it’s really good to switch things up. If you’re in your local drugstore, I always recommend picking up a couple different toothpastes and alternating them to see which one that you like better. Sometimes if you change it, you will see a difference in how your teeth look and feel when you present yourself at the office for your appointment.
Foods to Avoid
There are several foods to avoid if you are trying to maintain good oral health. These include sugary foods like candy, sticky foods like dried fruit, acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes, and foods with low nutritional value. While nobody want’s to completely remove sweets from their life, if you have a sweet tooth and you are debating what to eat, I would recommend chocolate over caramel or anything that’s sticky that will disrupt a filling in the mouth. During the summer, a lot of people like strawberries which I always recommend because they whiten the teeth naturally. Other things to avoid are red wine, blueberries and of course cigar or cigarette smoke as these will contribute to darkening of your teeth.
Drinks to Avoid
Any drink with a high sugar content such as soft drinks and some juices is not good for the teeth. We always recommend water if you are looking for a healthy alternative. Sometimes the bottled water doesn’t have fluoride in it. If you live in an area where the water is safe, we think tap water is fine. There’s too much sugar in apple juice. Orange juice is very acidic. If you cannot brush your teeth, you should always rinse your mouth out with water after drinking any of these sugary or acidic drinks.
Type of Toothbrush
A lot of people think that a hard toothbrush will clean the teeth more effectively. It won’t. It will cause gum recession, which we don’t like to see because then later on, besides the sensitivity, you’re going to be having fissures around the gum which are little indentations that you will probably have to have some type of bonding down the line if the sensitivity persists.
Treatments | Ultimate Oral Hygiene Guide
Zoom Teeth Whitening
The Zoom whitening, which a lot of people like, is a quick-fix. It’s going to be a little more expensive than a home whitening kit, but you will see immediate results. Sometimes we offer promotions, so please feel free to call the office manager and we’ll let you know if we’re offering any promotions. Also, we will come in, check the shade, and write it down for later comparison.
Zoom Whitening vs Regular Whitening
The Zoom teeth whitening we perform at our office is a two-hour procedure performed by our dental hygienist. For standard teeth whitening, we take impressions of your teeth, and then you purchase the whitening gel and you bleach them at home. If you do not like your results, just please follow the directions because a lot of people think that if they leave it on for a little bit longer then they’ll be a little bit brighter, but what we have found is that it causes extreme sensitivity. Then they end up having increased sensitivity to everything.
Conditions | Ultimate Oral Hygiene Guide
In the old days, gum disease was called pyorrhea. Gum disease starts out as gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. Periodontal disease is also gum disease. What we do when you come in with concerns about gum disease is to show you the areas that you’re missing. Then we use a periodontal probe to measure the space between the tooth and the gum.
If the probe goes between the tooth and the gum, then you really should focus on more gentle flossing, and more thorough brushing. If it continues, then Dr. Hamill will recommend having periodontal and root planning. It’s not painful. Some insurances will cover it. We go over your dental hygiene routine and we clean out all teeth effectively. Then we make our patients fully aware of what they are doing, and why it is important so that they can take proper steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
I had a patient who came in a while ago and she always looked good; her gum tissue was healthy. It was pink. There wasn’t any bleeding. She came in to see me a month ago. She had a lot of plaque that we could remove with just a regular toothbrush. Her teeth were bleeding. Dr. Hamill came in to do the exam. He recommended that she get the quadrant scaling done. We do the upper and lower in two different appointments a few weeks apart. She was concerned. I told her why we were doing this because I do not like to see the bleeding. She had it done. She made another appointment, and we’re back on track.
Periodontal disease is gum disease. It starts out as gingivitis, and then if somebody does not see a dentist for many years, the deposits from the plaque turn into what’s called tartar, also called calculus. That calculus goes underneath the gum line, and the hygienist or the doctor needs to remove it with an instrument. If the tartar or the calculus is not removed, it continues going around the root area. This is a common reason for patients losing their teeth due to periodontal disease.
Bleeding and Receding Gums
I always ask a patient with receding gums, if their toothbrush looks the same as when it was removed from the box. I ask this because it is a good indicator of whether they are using the proper toothbrush or brushing too hard. The bristles on your toothbrush should look the same as they did when you first opened the package; they should not be mashed up. If they are mashed up, it means that you’re brushing too hard and your gums will likely recede. Then you will have sensitivity down the road.
Bleeding gums is not normal unless you’re taking Coumadin, or another drug prescribed by your doctor, it might cause the bleeding gums. We would enforce very gentle but thorough brushing, so that when you come in here you will not have an issue.
Tooth sensitivity is caused primarily from excessive bleaching at home. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, you should change your toothpaste. If you do want white teeth, which most everyone does, you should alternate with regular toothpaste. I would probably say to use the whitening toothpaste at night because it’s going to be in your mouth all night, residual, and then alternate it. Also, if you do have sensitivity, there are different toothpastes for sensitive teeth. Sensitivity includes hot and cold foods and drinks. Generally, when patients come to our office complaining of sensitive teeth, we will perform an x-ray to see if there’s an underlying issue present in the tooth.
What Makes This Practice Different Than Others?
Douglas Hamill DDS prides itself on providing excellent dentistry, using modern technology and masterful skills in a thoughtful, personal manner. Each time you come to our office, you will see the same doctors and hygienists. You will not be shuffled off to a new doctor each time like some other big-box chains. We like to form relationships with our patients and get to know them on a first name basis.
Also, if you are on a budget, Dr. Hamill wants you to be happy, wants you to be comfortable. He also wants you to get done the work that you need to get done for your oral health and for when you are with your friends, your family, to be comfortable and to be proud of the smile that we give you as an office.
We work with any budget, with the overall goal of helping you achieve the smile of your dreams. If you have questions about your oral health, or maybe have been putting off a dental procedure because cost is an issue, please contact us to arrange a free consultation. We would love to help you achieve the healthy and beautiful smile of your dreams.