Many times the soft tissues are entirely overlooked during the at home oral hygiene process. The soft tissues do not just constitute the gums under the teeth, the uvula, the roof of the mouth, the lining of the cheeks and the tongue also fall under this umbrella term. All of these tissues are attacked by the same bacteria, and exhibit similar symptoms, and can be cured by the same methods. But neglecting some of the soft tissues and caring for others will eventually lead to some form of disease, usually periodontitis or gingivitis, and sometimes these diseases can become quite severe, and can have many unsightly and uncomfortable complications.
Floss and mouthwash are your primary tools for keeping your soft tissues clean. While the gums and tongue can and should be brushed, it is worth noting that soft tissues may not like the touch of bristles at all, as they may harm them, and cause them to bleed. The soft tissues are quite sensitive, and even eating certain foods can scar them up. Be gentle on the gums,. and go from the top down with gentle, circular motions. The tongue should be brushed with a tongue scrubber, this is a rubber, groovy thing that can be found on the back of certain toothbrushes. This is softer and sticky things, like the biofilm that bacteria tend to live in, will stick to its rubbery surface, making it more efficient and more gentle than the bristles of the toothbrush.
Floss is what will really help your gingiva, though. This is the only method in which bacteria coming into contact with the surface of the gingiva can be efficiently removed. Be careful though, as you can push bacteria into the gingiva if flossing improperly. Pop the floss in between the teeth gently, and go all the way down, then back up. This way you scoop the bacteria off of the gums and then the sides of the teeth. Make sure you do not reuse the same piece of floss on more than one tooth, as this way you will only transplant bacteria from one tooth to another. As for the rest of the soft tissues, there is mouthwash. Make sure you gargle and rinse thoroughly, this way you will kill bacteria that may be hiding in grooves and hard to reach otherwise. The main thing to keep in mind is the amount of time the mouthwash stays in the mouth, if it stays in for just a short period of time, it may not have a chance to kill all bacteria. Prolonged exposure to mouthwash will cause your mucus membranes to dry out, though, and this can also cause problems. The ideal time it should be in the mouth is around a minute and a half, the length of a good song.
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