Montana Dental Association Montana Dental Association

ADA Oral Hygiene Recommendations

The American Dental Association suggests choosing a soft-bristled toothbrush exhibiting the ADA Seal of Acceptance and brushing twice per day. Use a pea-sized amount of ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and move your brush gently in short strokes, being sure to brush all surfaces of each tooth. The tongue should also be brushed in order to remove bacteria and freshen your breath. Toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 to 4 months for adults and slightly more often for children, as frayed bristles will not adequately remove plaque and food and may even damage your gums.

The ADA also advocates the use of floss or interdental cleaning devices once a day. These implements remove bacteria between teeth and under the gum line that brushing alone cannot reach. Although some mouth rinse products purport to perform this function, the ADA maintains that flossing is the most effective path to complete oral hygiene.

And, of course, a balanced diet and regular dental check-ups are encouraged for maintaining a healthy smile.

For more information on maintaining good oral hygiene, visit the ADA web site at:
ADA Oral Hygiene Recommendations

Water Fluoridation

The American Dental Association supports the use of fluoride to strengthen and protect your teeth. Many filtering products and bottled waters do not contain the optimal level of fluoride (0.7-1.2 ppm) required to properly prevent decay. If your water source does not contain fluoride, using an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste may help.

For more on this topic, visit the ADA web site at:
ADA Oral Health Topics - Fluoride


One common tool utilized by dentists in order to detect dental problems or abnormalities are radiographs, or, as they are more commonly referred to, x-rays. Radiographs provide images of dental tissues not visible from the outside and aid in diagnosis of many dental conditions. When taking an x-ray, a concentrated stream of x-rays pass through the intended area and leave an image of bones, ligaments and tissues on film. Your dentist can analyze these images in order to detect small areas of decay between the teeth or below fillings, as well as many other more serious dental conditions.
ADA Oral Health Topics - X-Rays

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease (gum disease) pertains to an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. There are two types of periodontal disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is milder and reversible, but can lead to the more destructive periodontitis. Smoking or chewing tobacco, systemic diseases such as diabetes, certain medications, and broken or defective implements are among the risk factors for periodontal disease. Warning signs include gums that are red, swollen, bleed easily or have receded from the teeth. Treatment methods vary from case to case and depend on the progression of the infection. Since periodontal disease is preventable it is important that one receives regular dental checkups, as your doctor will screen for gum disease each time you visit.
ADA Oral Health Topics - Periodontal Diseases

American Academy of Periodontology

Orthodontics and Malocclusions

Crowded teeth, missing or extra teeth, or jaws that are out of alignment are called malocclusions (which means “bad bite”) and are examples of problems that can be relieved by orthodontics. Although most malocclusions are inherited, they can also be caused by accidents or sucking of the thumb or fingers during childhood.

It is recommended that all children receive an orthodontic examination by age seven, but adults can benefit from orthodontia as well. Because adults’ facial structure has already fully formed, treatment may take longer and may not be accomplished with braces alone. Ask your dentist for further information on orthodontics and malocclusion correction.
ADA Oral Health Topics - Orthodontics and Malocclusions

Bleaching and Whitening

Everyone wants a bright smile, and your dentist can advise you on the many options available for correction of discoloration. Many patients are satisfied with the results of twice-daily use of fluoride toothpaste, but many other methods for whitening are available. Both at-home and in-office options are available and should be discussed with your dental professional for best results.
ADA Oral Health Topics - Bleaching and Whitening

Oral Piercing

When today’s youth think about whether or not to pierce any area of their mouth, it’s likely that more are concerned with the social ramifications of the now-popular form of body modification, and less about the procedure’s medical impact. Dentists want those considering oral piercing to be aware of the many complications that can arise as a result. The most common are pain and swelling, and the tongue may even swell enough to block one’s airway. Infection is also common, as the mouth is home to thousands of bacteria. We suggest that all those considering a lip or tongue piercing and those experiencing complications related to piercing consult their dentist for further advice in this matter.
ADA Oral Health Topics - Oral Piercing

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Stress can result in many detrimental medical conditions, among them grinding one’s teeth and clenching ones jaw, otherwise known as bruxism. Bruxism often occurs while we sleep and can also be caused by sleep disorders, an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. Among bruxism’s symptoms are a dull headache, sore jaw, and fracturing of the teeth. There are many solutions your dentist can recommend to relieve stress and its effects on oral health. Regular exercise, counseling, physical therapy, and use of a mouth guard at night are some treatments that should be discussed with your dentist or orthodontist.
ADA Oral Health Topics - Bruxism

Soft Drinks

Once an occasional treat, soft-drinks have become a staple in the daily diet of many Americans. But these sweet drinks pose a serious threat to your teeth if consumed too often. Excessive consumption of soft-drinks may lead to tooth decay as a result of their high levels of sugar. If you drink two 12 oz. cans of Mountain Dew every day, you are ingesting 1.5 lbs of sugar every week from soda alone.
ADA Oral Health Topics - Diet and Oral Health

Methamphetamine and Oral Health (“Meth Mouth”)

Methamphetamine, a powerful central nervous system stimulant, has become a serious problem in many Montana communities, and its effects on health are often exhibited by the user’s oral health. The extensive tooth decay associated with meth use is a result of the drug’s high acidity and tendency to dry out mouth tissues. Users may suffer from blackened, stained, rotting, or crumbling teeth, which sometimes are beyond the point of salvage and must be extracted. Users may clench or grind their teeth while using, and often crave sugary drinks that can lead to further oral damage.
ADA - Meth Mouth

Further Information

ADA Oral Health Topics

ADA Dental Minute Video Index

ADA's Oral Health Links

Center for Disease Control Oral Health Resources



Montana Dental Association
38 South Last Chance Gulch, Ste. 205
P.O. Box 1154
Helena, Montana 59624

800-257-4988 (In Montana only)
406-443-2061 (in the Helena area)
Fax: 406-443-1546