Looking after your gums

The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good, daily tooth-brushing and flossing techniques. Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colourless film that constantly forms and sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Thorough daily brushing and flossing will remove these germs and help you prevent periodontal disease.

How to brush

When brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, you should position the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes. Use light pressure to push the bristles between the teeth, but not so much that you feel any discomfort. When you have cleaned the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions to clean the inside of the back teeth.

To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don't forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.

Next you clean the biting surfaces of your teeth by using short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you have finished, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened when brushing.

If you have any pain when brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please feel free to contact us.

How to floss

Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember it takes time and practice.

Start with a piece of floss (waxed is easier) about 30cm long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand.

To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to place. Bring the floss to the gum line then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.

To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefinger of both hands. Do not forget the back side of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.

Rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. If your gums hurt when flossing, you could be pulling too hard or pinching the gum. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. As you floss daily and remove the plaque, your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.

Caring for sensitive teeth

Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long, provided your mouth is clean. If your mouth is not kept clean, the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive, consult your doctor. They may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.

Choosing oral hygiene products

There are so many products on the market that it might become confusing, and choosing between all the products can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for selecting dental care products that will work for most patients.

Automatic and high-tech electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of patients. We see excellent results with electric toothbrushes called Sonicare and Oral B - Braun. These are a great investment in your dental health. They require a different brushing technique to traditional toothbrushes, and we recommend you speak to our professional staff to help you make the most of your investment.

Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but will not remove plaque entirely. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator.

Professional cleaning

Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus (tartar) to a minimum, but professional cleaning will remove calculus in places your toothbrush and floss have missed. Regular visits to our oral hygienist are an important part of your programme to prevent gum disease. Let’s work together to keep your teeth for your lifetime.


Good nutrition plays a large role in your dental health. Brushing and flossing help keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong. However, a balanced diet will help to boost your body’s immune system, leaving you less vulnerable to oral disease.

How often and what you eat have been found to affect your dental health. Bacteria in your mouth feed on starchy foods such as crackers, bread, biscuits and sweets. They then produce acids, which attack your teeth for at least 20 minutes or longer. Foods that stick to your teeth or are slow to dissolve give the acids more time to work on destroying tooth enamel.

Starchy foods include:

  • Crackers
  • Breads
  • Biscuits / cookies

Sticky/slow to dissolve foods include:

  • Chewy fruit snacks
  • Dried fruit
  • Hard sweets/candies

Sticky and starchy foods create less acid when eaten as part of a meal. Saliva production increases at mealtime, rinsing away food particles, and neutralising harmful acids.

Foods such as nuts, cheese, onions, and some teas have been shown to slow the growth of decay-causing bacteria in the mouth.