Some Dental Questions Are Up to You and Your Dental Professional
Dental care and brushing teeth
Daily brushing and flossing using the proper technique is fundamental to good oral health. But beyond that, the rules aren't hard and fast.
For example, nearly 39 percent of periodontists believe it is best to floss before brushing your teeth, while about 35 percent say after is better, according to an online survey of 195 periodontists conducted recently by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). In addition, about half of those surveyed said people should spend about two minutes brushing. However, another 43 percent recommend about three minutes or more.
"Patients often ask how long they should spend brushing," said Ravi Smith, D.D.S., a periodontist in San Francisco. "I do not recommend a timed regimen. Rather, I tell them however long it takes for them to properly brush all surfaces of their teeth."
As for oral care products that promote fresh breath, nearly 44 percent of respondents said using a tongue scraper is an important part of an oral care routine while about 56 percent said it's not. In addition, about 63 percent recommend mouthwash to patients concerned about fresh breath, while nearly 37 percent do not. For a quick breath refresher, 43 percent say sugarless gum is the best option; about 28 percent said a breath mint; and nearly 18 percent said breath spray.
More agreement exists on how many times a day brushing and flossing is necessary. About 82 percent of periodontists said they recommend brushing two or three times a day, and nearly 74 percent recommend flossing once per day. About 82 percent of periodontists say they personally floss daily, a much larger percentage than in the general population.
"The answer to many of the common questions dental professionals hear from their patients is that really it depends on the individual," said Michael McGuire, D.D.S., president of the AAP. "Therefore, I advise people to ask their dental professional to talk with them about oral care products and to teach them how to properly brush and floss."
Many periodontitsts wrote in that teaching patients about proper oral care regimens can have dramatic effects. "I recently had a 65-year-old patient who said he had only flossed once in his life," wrote one periodontist. I explained to him the importance of cleaning between his teeth. He came back for an evaluation two months after treatment and said he was now flossing five days a week. Needless to say, his periodontal health has improved significantly."