How to Properly Brush & Floss

How to Properly Brush & Floss

Brushing and flossing are of paramount importance to your oral hygiene. It removes the sticky bacterial plaque off of the tooth surface. The bristles and floss at and below the gum line disorganize the bacteria there. This process mixes good bacteria with bad bacteria, which promotes a healthy ecology. Usually the good bacteria keeps the bad in check.  Proper brushing and flossing can enhance the health of the mouth, make the smile sparkle and prevent serious diseases. A biannual hygeine check is recomended by this practice and the American Dental Association (ADA).

Reasons why proper brushing and flossing are essential:

  • Prevention of tooth decay – Tooth decay is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, and its treatment often requires complex dental procedures.  Tooth decay occurs when the acids found in plaque erode the natural enamel found on the teeth.  This phenomenon can easily be prevented by using proper home hygiene methods.

  • Prevention of periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is a serious, progressive condition which can cause tooth loss, gum recession and jawbone recession.  Periodontal disease is caused by the organization of disease causing bacterial biofilms. The toxins found in the biofilm plaque, and can lead to serious health problems in other parts of the body.  Removing biofilm plaque and calculus (tartar) from the surface of the tooth using a toothbrush, and from the interdental areas using dental floss, is an excellent way to disorganize periodontal disease causing biofilms.  The deeper the periodonal problem, the greater the number on the biofilm will exist. To get to a biofilm #5 you needed to have a biofilm #1. The problem is like a nice party that goes bad. An party example would be having the most routy people in the first group invite their roudy friends and the most roudy friends from each new group ariving at the party keep inviting there roudy friends. We have found in this practice that proper brushing and flossing are paramont to prevent and contain periodontal disease. Other factors that effect periodonal disease are genetics, diet, health, mediations and stess. Stressed patients seem to have the most problems.  Therefore it is important to have regular hygeine visits do to the dynamics of the mouth body relationship. 

  • Prevention of halitosis – Bad breath or halitosis is usually caused by old food particles on or between the teeth.  These food particles can be removed with regular brushing and flossing; leaving the mouth healthier, and breath smelling fresher.

  • Prevention of staining – Staining or the yellowing of teeth can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as smoking, coffee and tea.  The more regularly these staining agents are removed from the teeth using brushing and flossing techniques, the less likely it is that the stains will become permanent.

The Proper Way to Brush

The teeth should be brushed at least twice a day; ideally in the morning and before bed.  The perfect toothbrush is small in size with medium soft, rounded-end bristles and no more than three months old.  The head of the brush needs to be small enough to access all areas of the mouth, and the bristles should be soft enough so as not to cause undue damage to the gum tissue.  The American Dental Association (ADA) has given electric toothbrushes their seal of approval; stating that those with rotating or oscillating heads are more effective than other toothbrushes.

Here is a basic guide to proper brushing:

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where the gums and teeth meet.
  2. Press the bristles against the gum tissue enough to adapt the bristles to the tooth surface. Perform several short saw-stroke motions and then rotate the head of the toothbrush toward the bitting surface to the teeth. Move to a new overlapping area and repeat the process around the mouth.  If you have difficulty rotating the brush just perform circular motions and gently brush straight against the gums. 
  3. Do not scrub or apply too much pressure to the teeth, as this can damage the gums and tooth enamel. You only need enough pressure to adapt the bristles against he teeth. 
  4. Brush every surface of every tooth, cheek-side, tongue-side, and chewing surfaces. Place special emphasis on the surfaces of the back teeth.
  5. Use straight back and forth strokes to brush the chewing surfaces.
  6. Brush the tongue to remove fungi, food and debris is optional.

The Proper Way to Floss

Flossing is a great way to remove plaque from the interdental regions (between the teeth).  Flossing is an especially important tool for preventing periodontal disease and limiting the depth of the gum pockets.  The interdental regions are difficult to reach with a toothbrush and should be cleansed with dental floss on a daily basis.  The flavor and type of floss are unimportant; choose floss that will be easy and pleasant to use.

Here is a basic guide to proper flossing:

  1. Cut a piece of floss to around 18 inches long.
  2. Wrap one end of the floss around the middle finger of the left hand and the other end around the middle finger of the right hand until the hands are 2-3 inches apart.
  3. Work the floss gently between the teeth toward the gum line.
  4. Curve the floss in a U-shape around each individual tooth and carefully slide it beneath the gum line.
  5. Carefully move the floss up and down several times to remove interdental plaque and debris.
  6. Do not pop the floss in and out between the teeth as this will inflame and cut the gums.

If you have any questions about the correct way to brush or floss, please ask your dentist or dental hygienist.