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How to Properly Brush & Floss

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How to Properly Brush & Floss

Nothing is more important to oral hygiene than proper brushing and flossing. Although twice-yearly professional dental cleanings can remove debris, tartar and plaque, performing excellent home care yourself is just as important. Good brushing and flossing habits can make the mouth more healthy, make the smile sparkle more and prevent serious diseases.

Here are some reasons why proper brushing and flossing are crucial:
  • Tooth decay prevention. Tooth decay is a leading cause of tooth loss and can require complex, painful and expensive dental work to correct. It happens when acids in plaque erode away the enamel on teeth. But this can be prevented easily and inexpensively with proper oral hygiene habits.
  • Gum disease prevention. Periodontal or gum disease is a serious condition that keeps getting worse without treatment and can lead to tooth loss, recession of gums and recession of bone in the jaw. Gum disease is caused by poisonous substances in plaque and can lead to very serious health problems throughout the body, not just in the mouth. The best ways to stave off this disease are to remove plaque and tartar from the tooth surface with a toothbrush and to use floss for the spaces between teeth.
  • Bad breath prevention. Halitosis or bad breath is most often caused by food particles stuck on or between teeth. These particles can be easily removed, however, with regular flossing and brushing, leaving a mouth that’s healthier and breath that smells fresher.
  • Staining prevention. Yellowing or staining of the teeth is caused by many factors, including smoking and drinking tea and coffee. The more frequently and quickly these staining agents are removed from your teeth, the less likely staining is to be permanent.

The Right Way To Brush Your Teeth

tooth brush Brush your teeth at least twice a day for best results, preferably in the morning and before bed. The best toothbrush is small with soft, rounded bristles that will not damage gum tissue, and it should be less than three months old. The brush head should be small enough to get into all areas of the mouth.

The American Dental Association has given its seal of approval to electric toothbrushes, noting that their oscillating and rotating heads do a better job than regular toothbrushes.

Here are the basics of brushing:
  • Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to where the teeth and gums meet.
  • Using small circles, brush gently on the gum line and the teeth.
  • Avoid scuffing or applying excessive pressure as this can damage tooth enamel and gums.
  • Brush all tooth surfaces, the side of the cheek and the tongue. Pay careful attention to the back teeth.
  • Make sure to brush chewing surfaces with back and forth strokes.
  • Be sure to brush the tongue to remove debris, food and fungi.

The Right Way To Floss Your Teeth

Flossing is the best home care method for removing plaque between teeth. It is especially important for preventing gum disease and limiting gum pocket depth. The areas between teeth are difficult to reach with a brush and need to be cleaned with floss every day. The type and flavor of floss does not matter.

Here are the basics of flossing:
  • Use a piece of floss about 18 inches long.
  • Wrap one end around the middle finger of each hand until the hands are about 2 to 3 inches apart.
  • Work the floss in gently between teeth.
  • Curve the floss in a c-shape around each tooth, carefully sliding it below the gum line.
  • Move the floss up and down a few times to get rid of plaque and debris between the teeth.
  • Do not pop floss from between teeth because this can inflame or cut the gums.


For a free consultation with Dr. Paige Woods, DDS, call (619) 640-5100.