How to Properly Brush & Floss
Brushing and flossing are of vital importance to oral care. Though twice-a-year professional dental cleanings remove plaque, debris and tartar. Excellent homecare methods are of equal importance. Consistent brushing and flossing can prevent serious diseases and improve the health of the mouth and make your smile sparkle. Why brush and floss?
- Tooth decay prevention – Tooth decay is one of the prime reasons for tooth loss, and its treatment often means extensive dental procedures. Tooth decay happens when the acids found in plaque dissolve the natural enamel found on the teeth. Proper home care can easily can easily assist in the occurance of tooth decay.
- Periodontal disease prevention – Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria found in plaque, and can lead to serious health issues in other areas of the body. Periodontal disease is a progressive, serious condition which can cause gum recession, tooth loss, and jawbone degeneration. Periodontal problems can be reduced by removing calculus (tartar) and plaque from the surface of the tooth, and by using dental floss in between the teeth.
- Halitosis prevention – Halitosis (bad breath) is usually caused by bacteria and old food particles between the teeth. These food particles can be removed with regular brushing, tongue scraping, and flossing; leaving the mouth healthier, and breath smelling fresher.
- Stain prevention – Yellowing or staining of teeth can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as coffee or tea and smoking. The stains will become less permanent when these staining agents are removed from the teeth using brushing and flossing techniques.
The Proper Way to Brush
Your teeth should be brushed at least twice a day; usually in the morning and before bed. The perfect toothbrush is small in size with soft, rounded-end bristles and no more than 3-4 months old. A soft bristled toothbrush small enough to reach all areas of the mouth should be used, and the bristles should be soft enough so as not to cause any damage to the gum tissue. Dr. Braithwaite recommends oscillating or rotating type toothbrushes (Sonicare and Oral B) as a more effective method for brushing teeth.
Here is a basic guide to good brushing:
- Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where the teeth and gums meet.
- Use small circular motions carefully to brush the teeth and gumline.
- Do not scrub in a back and forth movement to the teeth, as this can damage the tooth enamel and gums.
- Brush every surface of every tooth, the chewing surface, the cheek-side, and the tongue-side. Place special attention on the surfaces of the back teeth.
- Brush the tongue to remove food, debris, and fungi.
The Proper Way to Floss
Flossing is a great way to remove plaque from the interdental areas (between the teeth). Flossing is a vitally important aid for preventing periodontal disease and reducing the depth of the gum pockets. The interdental areas are difficult to reach with a toothbrush and must be cleansed with dental floss on a regular basis. The type and flavor of floss are unimportant; choose floss that will be pleasant and easy to use. A monofilament floss (single strand) is preferred.
Here is a basic guide to proper flossing:
- Cut a piece of floss to around 10-14 inches long.
- Wrap one end of the floss around the middle finger of the right hand and the other end around the middle finger of the left hand until the hands are 1-2 inches apart.
- Place the floss carefully between the teeth toward the gum line.
- Curve the floss in a U-shape around each tooth and carefully place it beneath the gum line.
- Gently move the floss up and down several times to remove debris and interdental plaque.
If you have any questions about the proper way to floss and brush, please ask Dr. Braithwaite or the dental hygienist.