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Clear the Clutter From Your Mouth in 5 Easy Steps

1. Get your teeth professionally cleaned.

When it comes to spring cleaning your home, you can do it yourself or hire a professional if you don't have the time. But when it comes to cleaning your teeth thoroughly, seeing a professional is a necessity. We're not saying brushing and flossing aren't essential - but it's only part of the equation. To get rid of the guck (aka plaque and tartar) that's built up on your teeth, you'll have to rely on the experts to do that. While some dentists do teeth cleanings themselves, they often turn to their dental hygienists to handle the job.

Depending how often (or infrequently) you go to the dentist, your dentist may recommend one of the following types of teeth cleanings:

Regular Cleaning - Also called a "prophylaxis," a regular teeth cleaning is a preventive procedure usually recommended for patients who have minimal plaque, tartar and debris buildup as well as healthy gums (good in color and texture along with "shallow" pockets). This is the kind of teeth cleaning you should get at least once every six months.

Deep Cleaning - If it's been awhile since you've seen the dentist, you may have plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line, bleeding gums and/or deep gum pockets. These are signs of gum disease and typically require a more intensive teeth cleaning - technically called a scaling and root planing (SRP) but usually referred to as a deep cleaning. This type of cleaning typically requires numbing.

Periodontal Maintenance - Once you've been diagnosed with periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend periodontal maintenance treatments after a deep cleaning or other forms of gum disease treatment. Maintenance usually involves scaling and planing in problem areas along with tooth polishing. Without follow-up treatment, periodontal disease can -- and usually does -- resurface.

2. Change your toothbrush.

After using a toothbrush for about three months, the bristles become frayed and flattened -- telltale signs that it's time to get a new one. In fact, most dentists recommend changing your toothbrush every three months, if not sooner, depending on how soft or hard you brush. Also consider getting a toothbrush sanitizer like Zapi, which may kill up to 99 percent of toothbrush bacteria. Keep in mind that even if you invest in a sanitizer, you should still change your toothbrush every three months.


3. Put floss and mouthwash to work.

Most people have all the right tooth tools - toothbrush, floss and mouthwash - but many only use a toothbrush on a daily basis. If this sounds like you, spring is just as good a time as any to start using your floss and mouthwash. Flossing removes particles in between your teeth that brushing can't reach. And mouthwash can give your mouth a truly clean feel. But proper flossing techniques are key; be sure to check out our "How to Floss" guide to find out if you're doing it right.

Choosing the right kind of mouthwash is also important. Many dentists recommended using an alcohol-free mouthwash that won't dry out your mouth. Mouthwash typically falls into two categories: cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwashes mask bad breath and can help eliminate some mouth bacteria but have a limited overall effect on your dental health. Therapeutic mouthwashes can help fight periodontal disease and cavities and build tooth enamel. Be sure to consult your dentist about the best mouthwash for you!

4. Drink fluoridated water.

It's well known that fluoride can help fight cavities. But most bottled waters don't contain fluoride. On the other hand, many community water systems are fluoridated. So even if it's not safe to drink your local water straight from the tap, it may be better to drink filtered tap water rather than bottled water. Drinking plenty of water also helps flush out the bacteria from your mouth.

5. Consider a teeth whitening treatment.

 While not technically "clutter," tooth stains are something that most people want to get rid of. As part of your "spring revival," you may want to consider treating yourself to a laser teeth whitening treatment. Laser teeth whitening treatments can literally transform your teeth from dull to dazzling, making your teeth 8-10 shades whiter in about an hour!

Remember, whether it's been six months or six years since your last teeth cleaning, it's never too late to get your dental health back on track. We can help you get started by searching for a great dentist near your area.

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