How to Properly Brush and Floss

Home care is equally important to visiting the dentist twice a year. Brushing and flossing are the most important daily habits to good oral hygiene. Proper brushing and flossing not only protect the teeth and gums from disease but also reduce the bacteria that may lead to other diseases in the body.

The Benefits of Brushing
The purpose of brushing is to remove food particles from your teeth. When food decomposes in your mouth, it nourishes dangerous bacteria. These bacteria cause several unpleasant problems that lead to painful tooth decay and other serious conditions.

Proper brushing and flossing are essential for prevention of:

  • Staining: Certain foods, and especially beverages such as tea, can stain your teeth
  • Bad Breath: (halitosis): Bad breath is not only unpleasant, but it can also indicate serious health problems
  • Decay: Bacteria can break down the protective enamel on teeth, which leads to decay. Tooth decay leads to cavities, and cavities lead to infection when left untreated
  • Periodontal disease: Keeping gums healthy through regular brushing and flossing prevents periodontal disease, which can be painful and also uncomfortable to treat

The Right Way to Brush
You should plan to brush at least twice a day or after each meal. The proper toothbrush should be small with soft, rounded bristles and should ideally be changed every 3-4 months. There are also various types of electrical toothbrushes that have received The American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. You may also consider using a specialty tongue brush that’s designed to clean the surface of the tongue better than a regular toothbrush.

If you choose an electric toothbrush, focus on the area where the gums meet the teeth. Also, don’t forget to brush your tongue — a large percentage of bacteria live there.

Steps for Proper Brushing

  • Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the surface of the tooth where the gums and tooth meet.
  • With small circular motions gently brush the teeth and gums.
  • Be careful not to apply too much pressure or scrubbing. This can damage the enamel of the teeth and the soft tissue of the gums.

Why Flossing Matters

Although your teeth may feel fresh just after you brush, food particles and bacteria remain in the small spaces between the teeth. Flossing is an additional way to prevent decay and recession by removing plaque from the spaces between the teeth. These areas are difficult to reach with traditional toothbrushes and flossing should be done every day. There are many types of floss on the market and selecting the right type of floss is important and should be discussed with the dentist.

Basic Steps for Proper Flossing
When flossing, make sure you clean the spaces between the teeth in the front and rear of your mouth. You may bleed a little at first. As you make flossing a regular habit, however, the bleeding should stop. If you continue to bleed following regular brushing and flossing, make an appointment with your dentist.

To begin flossing, you should:

  • Dispense a piece of floss approximately 18 inches long and wrap one end around the middle fingers of both hands. Continue wrapping until you can place your index finger on the floss and they are 4-5 inches apart.
  • Work the floss between the contacts of the teeth down toward the gums.
  • Once the floss is past the contact gently curve the floss around each individual tooth and gently move the floss up and down to remove debris.

Pre-threaded Floss
Many people have switched from traditional floss to the new pre-threaded floss holders. These convenient ways to floss make it much easier to quickly and effectively floss between each of your teeth. If you find it difficult to wrap floss around your fingers and reach your back teeth this may be a great alternative. Should the floss become dirty, simply rinse the floss and continue — or dispose of it and use a new flosser. You can use the pick-end to carefully dislodge stubborn food particles.

Do you want to have the smile of your dreams?