How To Properly Brush & Floss

Preventing periodontal disease through proper brushing and flossing

It may seem like a no-brainer, but brushing and flossing are crucial to proper oral hygiene. While professional dental cleanings in Sea Girt, NJ from the Doctor twice a year are designed to remove plaque, tartar and debris from your teeth, excellent home dental care is even more valuable, because it happens every day.

But while you may already know that brushing and flossing your teeth every day is important, do you know the proper way to do it? Proper technique can make the difference when it comes to enhancing the health of your mouth, making your smile sparkle and preventing serious diseases.

Brushing your teeth properly takes more practice than you realize

As you’ve probably heard throughout your life, you should be brushing your teeth twice a day, preferably in the morning and at bedtime. Choose a toothbrush with a small head and soft, rounded-end bristles. The head of the toothbrush should be small enough to access your entire mouth, and the bristles should be soft enough not to damage the gums. Don’t use a toothbrush for more than three months.

The American Dental Association has endorsed electric toothbrushes, saying that rotating or oscillating heads can be more effective at cleaning teeth than other varieties.

Proper brushing involves a specific technique:

  • Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle at the point where your gums and teeth meet
  • Brush in small, circular strokes to gently clean the gum-line and teeth
  • Avoid scrubbing or using too much pressure, in order to avoid damaging your teeth or gums
  • Cover each surface of each tooth, placing special emphasis on the back surfaces of the teeth
  • Stroke back and forth to clean the chewing surfaces

It may be a hassle, but flossing properly is key to a healthy mouth

The surfaces between your teeth, known as the interdental regions, can be hard to reach with a toothbrush. Flossing solves that problem by removing the plaque that can build up in that region. Flossing is especially vital to preventing periodontal disease and maintaining healthy gum pockets. Flavor and type are a matter of personal preference. Choose floss that you find easy and pleasant to use.

Proper flossing technique is as follows:

  • Cut a piece of floss about a foot and a half long
  • Wrap one end around your left middle finger and the other end around your right middle finger, leaving about 2-3 inches between your hands
  • Pull the floss between your teeth, toward the gums
  • Pull the floss in a curve around the base of each tooth where it meets the gums, carefully sliding the floss beneath the gum line
  • Remove interdental plaque and debris by move the floss up and down multiple times between each set of teeth
  • Try not to pop the floss in and out between the teeth, as this explosive movement can inflame or cut your gums

Don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove food, debris and fungi

Proper brushing and flossing methods can save your teeth
  • Preventing tooth decay: Tooth decay is a leading cause of tooth loss and often requires complex, inconvenient dental procedures. Tooth decay happens when the acids in plaque erode the natural enamel covering your teeth, and can be easily prevented through proper home hygiene.
  • Preventing periodontal disease: Periodontal disease is a condition that can cause tooth loss, gum recession and jawbone loss. It’s caused by the toxins found in plaque and can affect parts of the body that are seemingly unrelated to the mouth. Using a toothbrush on the surface of your teeth and floss between them can help remove plaque and calculus, or tartar, which can prevent periodontal disease.
  • Preventing halitosis: Halitosis is another term for bad breath. It is usually caused by food particles stuck on or between the teeth. Brushing and flossing can remove these food particles from your mouth for a healthier, better-smelling oral environment.
  • Preventing staining: Regular brushing and flossing can keep your teeth from yellowing or staining, which can be caused by a range of factors including smoking and drinking coffee or tea. The more frequently these staining agents are removed from your teeth, the more likely it is that they will not have a permanent effect.

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