The Keys To Dental Health

For a lifetime of strong, healthy, clean and beautiful teeth and gums here is the knowledge and actions you need:

1) Know your Enemy: Plaque is directly and indirectly responsible for more than 95% of all non-developmental dental problems and dental disease. Plaque is an accumulation of millions of germs piled up on your teeth. The mouth is one of the most ideal environments for the growth of bacteria and many of those germs are in some way harmful. Bacteria grows best in a warm, wet, dark environment and it eats SUGAR. In response to that sugar, plaque produces acid which causes tooth decay, gingivitis and other problems. Plaque grows best while you sleep so the worst time of day to have sugary snacks is just before bedtime. Fear is another great enemy standing in the way of many people seeking and completing dental treatment.

2) Know your Friend: See your dentist and friendly dental hygienist at least twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings. You should think of your dentist as a friend, your personal health professional who stands by to help you and advise you to better dental health. Actually, today’s technology has given dentistry the means to provide better, longer lasting, gentler dental care than ever before.

Bitewing x-rays should be done at least once a year, and a full mouth x-ray about every three years, to check areas between your teeth that are impossible to see with just a visible exam. Late model dental x-ray machines are heavily regulated and are so safe today that there is no established risk involved for anyone getting dental x-rays. Your health is at much greater risk by not having regular dental x-rays. In fact, the digital x-rays used at Gentle Family Dentistry in Duncansville, PA use much less radiation than traditional film-based x-ray machines.

Any cavities that are found should be promptly repaired. The greatest costs in dental treatment are due to cavities and other dental problems that are neglected until something hurts or breaks. Most often, if you wait until it hurts, you’ve waited too long. When a cavity is small it can be repaired quickly, inexpensively and painlessly. But if you wait long enough, sometimes even just a few months, the cavity can grow to the nerve and you may need root canal, post & core and a crown, costing many hundreds of dollars; or worse yet, you might lose the tooth.

3) Avoid sugary items: that spend lots of time in your mouth. These include, but aren’t limited to, chewing gum, hard candies, mints, chewing tobacco, sticky, chewy candy and sugar containing kool-aid, soda, tea etc. The germs in your mouth eat sugar and make acid, which rots your teeth, in direct relation to the time the sugar spends in contact with your teeth.


Floss, brush and rinse PROPERLY, at least once a day. Better is twice a day. You should floss first, then brush, then rinse. Reason, when flossing you reach places that your brush cannot go and will pull plaque and food particles out from between your teeth, most of which remains on brushable areas of your teeth so you can then brush it off.



1) Setting Up: Pull about 18 inches of floss from the dispenser and wrap the ends around your middle fingers.

2) Inserting Floss: Hold floss tightly, using your thumbs and forefingers to gently guide the floss between the teeth. Work the floss through the contact point, moving it gently under the gumline.  Be careful not to snap the floss between teeth and under gums, as this can harm delicate tissue.

3) Removing Plaque: Holding the floss tightly against the tooth, move the floss away from the gum, scraping the floss up and down against the side of the tooth. Then let go of the inside part and pull the floss through to the outside.

4) Cleaning the whole mouth: Repeat flossing procedure on each tooth, upper and lower, using a clean segment of floss.

5) Flossing back teeth: Don’t forget to floss behind back teeth where there is no adjacent tooth.


The best toothbrush to use is a soft bristled brush. There are many head sizes, handle sizes and shapes. Each one claims to be better than the rest. The key is choosing one whose head is not too big or small for your mouth, and one with a comfortable handle. Medium and hard brushes, and even vigorous brushing with soft brushes, abrade the enamel off your teeth and cause gumline sensitivity which can lead to gumline cavities. You should replace your brush every 3 months to maintain brushing’s effectiveness.


Toothpaste should contain fluoride. It should be pleasant tasting and not too gritty. Whether paste or gel is pure preference. For sensitive teeth, the sensitive formulas work very slowly over a long time. Instead, ask your dentist for a high fluoride supplement gel, like Prevident, or a prescription for one, to use after brushing. Fluoride hardens teeth, desensitizes them and helps protect against cavities. Toothpaste is primarily just a vehicle to carry fluoride and other chemicals to your teeth so in an emergency you can brush just as well without it and use only a wet brush. Be careful though, as fluoride can be poisonous if swallowed.



1) Setting up: Wet the brush and apply enough toothpaste to cover the head of the brush.

2) Holding the Brush: More damage than good is done to the teeth and gums over a long time by vigorous scrubbing. The erosion of the enamel along the gumline caused by this activity is one of the main causes of gumline sensitivity and can be stopped and/or prevented. The keyword here is GENTLE! Do not hold the brush like a weapon, in a tight clenched fist, as if preparing for battle. Instead, hold the brush softly between two, or at most three, fingers. Keep in mind that plaque is a soft cheesy substance which can be removed with a Q-tip. You do not have to file it off your teeth. Think of brushing as painting the toothpaste on and painting it back off your teeth.

3) Removing Plaque: Hold your toothbrush at a 45° angle toward the gums and place it where your teeth and gums meet. Move the brush back and forth and around in a GENTLE circular motion to remove plaque from the outer or cheek side surfaces of all teeth, upper and lower. Keep brushing with short angled strokes to remove plaque from the inner or tongue side surfaces of the back teeth, upper and lower. Tilt the brush vertically and make up-and-down strokes to remove plaque from the tongue side surfaces of the front teeth, upper and lower. Hold the brush flat and use a scrubbing motion to remove plaque from the chewing surfaces of all teeth, upper and lower. It’s also important to gently brush the top surface of your tongue because of the plaque that grows on it overnight.


After brushing, rinse the excess toothpaste out with plain water first. After that you can use a highly antiseptic mouthwash that does not contain alcohol. Some of the best commercial antiseptic mouthwashes are Crest Pro-health and Listerine. Both claim a 99.9% kill rate after 30 seconds of vigorous rinsing.

In another post I discuss some of the world’s best and least expensive mouthwashes that you can make it home. Be looking for that one.

In conclusion, here’s what you need to do to maintain great dental health, healthy teeth, fresh smelling breath and a beautiful smile:

1) Floss between all your teeth every day. Remember my motto, “You only have to floss daily the ones you want to keep”.
2) Brush gently but thoroughly every surface of every tooth every day.
3) See your friendly dental hygienist at least every 6 months for the rest of your life.
4) Stay away from sugar as much as possible. Treat it like the poison that it is.
5) Avoid all tobacco products because they damage your teeth and gums as well as the rest of your body.

Legal CMA Disclaimer:

Although this article may contain factual information, the information contained in this article has probably not been evaluated by the FDA nor is it in any way intended to be medical advice.

Unfortunately I must recommend that for any change in medical or health behavior or for any change in the way you use prescribed drugs by your healthcare providers or before acting upon any of the advice given in this or any other article, that you consult with your licensed healthcare provider or physician.

Dr. Locker and his friendly, knowledgeable staff invite you to Call Gentle Family Dentistry in Duncansville, PA for the greatest, most advanced, painless dental experience you have ever had.

You can Call Us At: 814-693-6777 or just click the link to

go to our webpage for more information.

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And remember, You only have to floss daily the ones you want to keep.