Other oral health care tips

In addition to daily brushing and flossing, consider using an antimicrobial mouth rinse or a mouth rinse containing fluoride to promote oral health.

To remove food particles from your teeth that aren't dislodged by flossing or brushing, you might try an oral irrigator — a device that aims a stream of water at your teeth. Resist the temptation to use toothpicks or other objects that could injure your gums. Keep in mind, however, that an oral irrigator doesn't replace daily brushing and flossing, since it doesn't remove plaque.

When to see the dentist

To prevent gum disease and other oral health problems, schedule regular dental cleanings and exams. In the meantime, contact your dentist if you notice any signs or symptoms that could suggest oral health problems, such as:

  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Gums that begin pulling away from your teeth
  • Loose permanent teeth
  • Changes in the way your top and bottom teeth align with each other
  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Persistent bad breath or an unusual taste in your mouth

Remember, early detection and treatment of problems with your gums, teeth and mouth can help ensure a lifetime of good oral health.

May. 14, 2013 See more In-depth