Regular preventive care is the best way to keep your mouth healthy and comfortable and to avoid dental and medical treatment.
Brushing is the best way to remove cavity-causing plaque and other debris from your teeth.
Plaque, a colorless, sticky substance, reacts with the bacteria and decaying food particles in your mouth and when left on the teeth long enough, begins to erode the enamel.
It is recommended that you brush your teeth three times a day, usually after meals and before bedtime.
How long you spend brushing your teeth is as critical as how often you brush your teeth.
Here are some technique tips for brushing:
- Many people simply brush for a few seconds, spit, and place the toothbrush back in the cup. It is very important to spend at least 2-3 minutes brushing your teeth. This helps to ensure that the brush doesn’t miss hard-to-reach or often neglected surfaces.
- Use short, circular motions and brush at a 45-degree angle.
Brush all surfaces of your teeth-the sides and chewing surfaces as well as the lower portions near the gum line.
- Gently brush other areas of your mouth, including your gums, tongue and “roof” of your mouth. These can be prime areas for bacteria to hide.
- Choose toothbrushes with soft, round-headed bristles Avoid big-headed toothbrushes. Dental associations recommend that you buy a toothbrush with a compact head-1″ by 1/2″-so you can easily reach the small areas of your mouth.
- Some toothbrushes today have wide handles. This helps you control the toothbrush better. So, choose a toothbrush with a handle that is long enough and wide enough for you to handle.
You should replace your toothbrush at least four times a year – more often if you have been sick.
Floss comes in a variety of materials and colors, but essentially, it is a very thin cord you hold between fingers of each hand and insert between adjoining teeth. The cord, or floss, helps loosen debris by gently moving it up and down and back and forth between the teeth.
Flossing is a proven method for loosening debris from hard-to-reach surfaces of your teeth and gum lines. Next to brushing, flossing is a highly effective method for removing plaque on tooth surfaces your brush can’t reach very well.
Another benefit of flossing is increasing blood circulation in your gums. Gum stimulation is a necessary means of keeping your gum tissues healthy; strong gums are the foundation of your teeth.
How Often To Floss
Our office recommends that you practice flossing once a day. Many people find that flossing at night is an easy bedtime routine; moreover, nighttime flossing helps to protect your teeth during sleep, when harmful plaque can do a lot of damage.
Types of Floss
Dental floss comes in a variety of materials, colors, and even flavors. Waxed varieties are slipperier, allowing people with extremely tight spaces between their teeth to floss more easily. Popular flavors of floss include wintergreen and cinnamon. Waxed floss does tend to fray more than unwaxed floss.
A type of material called wide floss can be effective for people with large spaces between their teeth, or for people with delicate bridge work.
Floss can be purchased in small self-dispensing boxes. Floss can also be purchased in special, single-use holders, a useful invention people who have a hard time wrapping the floss around their fingers, including those with dexterity problems or arthritis.
Most people who floss wrap 1-2 inches of floss around a finger on each hand, and use the floss in between on their teeth. The important thing is that you leave plenty of floss in between to allow you to maneuver inside your mouth.
One effective way is to break off about a foot of floss. Wrap one end of the floss a few times around the middle finger of each hand. You can use your forefinger and thumbs to maneuver the floss inside your mouth.
Press the floss in between two teeth and gently press downward (or upward if doing an upper set of teeth). Next, glide the floss up and down a few times against the surfaces of both teeth, carefully doing so at and below the gum line as well. Repeat this procedure for each tooth, taking up the slack when floss becomes worn or frayed.
Don’t be alarmed if your gums slightly bleed the first time you floss. This is normal and will cease when your gums become used to flossing.