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Curbs, Gutters, & Gums – A Continuation

Dr. Crapo: In the last article, the question dealt with maintenance; how to make certain one could prevent decay and gum disease from setting in, especially when a large investment had been made to preserve the teeth with crowns and implants?

In response to the question last week, I pointed out the need to clean the sulcus (remember your “dental cuticle”) with a special tool called a sulcabrush. Its purpose is to sweep out plaque and debris from the groove formed as tooth meets gum. Sweeping this out is imperative! I also mentioned a bactericidal toothpaste and rinse. The system I like best is called Oxyfresh.

Now I promised to make flossing fun, which is quite a task, as brushing and flossing is not the most scintillating exercise of your day. Go to your bathroom. Hold your hands up with your arms bent at the elbow, your palms facing you. Now curl your fingers downward except your middle fingers – keep them standing straight up – yes I know, you’ve just cast an obscene gesture at yourself. These middle fingers are the fingers that will anchor your floss.

The next step is to get your floss and pull out about three feet. If you’re right handed, secure one end of the floss with two full wraps around your left middle finger. Once that’s completed go to the extreme other end and begin wrapping the floss around the right middle finger until you’re left with about 6 inches of floss between your left and right middle fingers. You are now ready to floss, and you have free index fingers and thumbs to manipulate the floss. (Most make the mistake of wrapping the floss around the index finger and thereby handcuff, rather “finger cuff” themselves.) With some practice you will see that it’s much easier to get the floss through all the contacts. Having said that, just “snapping” (don’t snap!) the floss between the contacts and pulling it out is NOT flossing. You must wrap the floss around the surface you’re cleaning. You’re trying to not only clean the teeth but sweep out the gums between the teeth. And here’s the catch – you need to keep cleaning the full curvature of the tooth until its “squeaky clean” – and don’t forget to clean the curvature of the teeth beside it. As the floss frays, take a wrap on the left finger and release one wrap on the right, thus keeping the floss fresh.

So here’s the order – 1. sulcabrush to sweep the “gutters”, 2. floss to clean the curbs, 3. electric or manual toothbrush to apply the bactericidal toothpaste to the teeth and gums, 4. bactericidal mouthwash to rinse out the toothpaste, 5. Don’t eat or drink for twenty minutes.

Well I don’t know how fun that was but it’ll keep your dental bill down and that should make you happy.

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