Proper brushing and flossing are critical to oral health and hygiene. While biannual visits to the dentist for cleaning and checkups can remove tartar buildup, following a healthy home care regimen in the interim can remove plaque and bacteria, and minimize the amount of tartar that builds up, making those visits to the dentist easier. Thorough brushing and flossing can keep your mouth healthy, keep your smile looking great, and prevent disease.
If you need more convincing, here are some more reasons to establish and maintain good brushing and flossing habits:
- Prevent decay – One of the biggest causes of tooth loss is tooth decay. Plaque is acidic, and can wear away tooth enamel. This leads to toothache and complicated, painful, and costly procedures to treat. Plaque buildup and decay can be easily prevented with good oral hygiene.
- Prevent disease – Without treatment, gum disease gradually gets worse and causes receding gums, erosion of the bone in the jaw, and tooth loss. Plaque contains bacteria which can enter the bloodstream through gums affected by disease and cause a variety of health problems throughout the body, including heart disease. Proper oral hygiene habits keeps the gums healthy and prevents these problems.
- Prevent halitosis – Most bad breath is caused when food particles left between the teeth begin to rot. Regular oral hygiene removes these particles and odor causing bacteria, leaving your mouth not just healthier, but smelling fresher as well.
- Prevent staining – Drinking tea, coffee, and soda, along with smoking, can all cause discoloration of the teeth. Regularly removing the substances that can discolor teeth will minimize staining.
How to Effectively Brush Your Teeth
To keep your teeth clean, they need to be brushed twice a day. The best times of day to brush are early in the morning and just before bed. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles that will be gentle on the gums. Your toothbrush head needs to be small enough to reach every part of your mouth. Be sure to replace your toothbrush at least every three months.
For even better results, consider an electric toothbrush. The American Dental Association has determined that the oscillating and rotating heads clean more effectively than manual toothbrushes.
Here’s how to brush effectively:
- Place the toothbrush against the teeth, along the gumline, at a 45-degree angle.
- Brush the teeth, paying special attention to the gumline, with small, gentle circles.
- Brush gently. Excessive pressure can damage tooth enamel and scrape the gums.
- Be sure to thoroughly brush all surfaces of all teeth, as well as your tongue and the insides of your cheeks to remove food particles, bacteria, and other debris. Don’t forget the back teeth.
- Brush the biting and chewing surfaces of the teeth with back and forth motions.
How to Effectively Floss Your Teeth
Even the most thorough brushing can’t remove plaque, bacteria and food stuck between the teeth or below the gumline. Flossing can help remove debris from areas you cannot reach with your toothbrush. Flossing can also help prevent gum disease and minimizing gum pockets. Any type or flavor of floss will do the trick.
Here’s how to floss effectively:
- Start with about 18 inches of floss.
- Wrap the ends around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches in between them.
- Use your thumbs and forefingers as a guide and work the floss in between teeth.
- Holding the floss in an angle, or a c-shape, around each tooth. Gently slip the floss below the gum line.
- Work the floss up and down to remove plaque and debris caught between teeth.
- Carefully remove the floss from between teeth to avoid inflammation or damage to the gums.
If you would like a professional cleaning and exam, call us at (619) 640-5100