a. How often should I have a cleaning done?

For most people, getting a dental cleaning twice a year is adequate. Your dentist may tell you that you can come in less frequently. On the other hand, if you are a smoker, have diabetes, have a weakened immune system, are prone to getting cavities, or currently have gum disease, your dentist may ask you to come in more frequently.

Unlike your toothbrush, your dentist's tools can remove tartar -- hardened plaque -- from above and just below the gum line. Removing tartar is an important step in keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

2. Brushing and flossing

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. By thorough daily brushing and flossing, you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.

a. 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.

b. 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 backside 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.