Health Canada TV presents Good Oral Health: It will make your whole body smile! Module 2:Brushing and Flossing Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly builds up, thickens and can harden into tartar. Plaque can be removed with daily brushing and flossing. Plaque that’s not removed contributes to infections in the gums. Left untreated, gum or periodontal disease can lead to the loss of teeth and an increased risk of more serious diseases. There is a strong link between gum disease and diabetes. People with diabetes are not only more at risk of gum disease, but gum disease can also affect the severity of their diabetes. The same bacteria found in plaque can also be inhaled into the lungs where they may cause an infection or aggravate any existing lung condition, especially in older adults. Studies are also examining whether pregnant women with gum disease may be at a higher risk of delivering pre-term, low birth weight babies than women without gum disease. You’ve made a commitment to improve your oral health. You’ve bought new toothbrushes and floss, your drinking water is treated with fluoride (when possible), and you’ve started walking and are making reasonable changes to improve healthy food choices. Simply brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing to remove plaque between your teeth daily can make a real difference. Now let’s make sure you know the right way to look for the signs of gum disease or other potential problems in your mouth, and then let’s make sure you are brushing and flossing properly. Check your gums and teeth on a regular basis. Look for signs of gum disease that include: – red and swollen (puffy) gums – pain along the gums – blood on your toothbrush or floss – persistent bad breath – loose teeth or teeth that have changed position during a short timeframe. If you have any of these symptoms, see a dental professional. Your toothbrush is your most powerful weapon in the fight against plaque but it’s very important to brush your teeth properly to ensure you are getting the benefits from brushing. Plaque is soft and easily removed so choose a soft toothbrush. Don’t rush – brush your teeth for about 2 minutes at least twice a day. · Point the bristles towards the gums. · Gently wiggle the toothbrush back and forth. · Brush all sides of your teeth – the inside or tongue side, the outside or cheek side and the top where you chew. · Don’t forget to brush your tongue. The area between your teeth is most likely where plaque will accumulate so flossing is essential. At least once a day – perhaps first thing in the morning or just before going to bed – you will want to floss you teeth. · Pull out 40 – 50 cm of dental floss from the container – that’s about the length of your arm. · Wrap the ends of the floss around each of your middle fingers, leaving about 2 – 3 cm of floss between your two fingers. · Use your thumb and index fingers to hold the floss in place. · Wrap the floss around the tooth into a “C” shape. · Gently slide the floss up and down between your tooth and your gums. · Use a new section of floss each time you move to a new space between teeth. Learning to floss properly might take some time and patience. But once you’ve mastered it, it takes just a few minutes a day. An antimicrobial mouth rinse will reduce the bacteria in your mouth. If you already have gum disease, brushing and flossing are even more important. See a dental professional on a regular basis. Brush your children’s teeth for them until they are able to write their own name. By then they should be able to brush their own teeth with your guidance and a watchful eye from time to time. There’s more information about caring for infants, young children or aging relatives, so please visit our web site at healthcanada.ca/oralhealth.