Taking proper care of your smile at home is crucial to helping to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Properly brushing and flossing can keep decay and gum disease at bay and prevent you from spending more time than necessary in our offices. It’s important to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once, but it’s just as important to be sure you are doing each properly.
Is there a proper way to brush my teeth?
Brushing is important, but just as important to making sure you do it is making sure you are brushing properly. The American Dental Association recommends:
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
- Holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums
- Using gentle, short, back and forth strokes
- Paying close attention to cleaning every surface of the teeth – front, back and chewing
- Tilting the brush vertically and using up and down motions to clean the inside surfaces
- Brushing twice a day for two minutes each
- Remembering to also brush the tongue
How should I floss my teeth?
Flossing is important because it cleans the surfaces of the teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. To floss properly, we recommend:
- Using 18-24 inches of floss
- Wrapping the floss around each index finger to allow for easy moving
- Curving the floss into a C-shape as you gently glide it up the surface of each tooth and at the gumline
- Unwinding a clean bit of floss every time you move to a new tooth
How often should I brush my teeth and for how long?
We recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day, for two minutes each time. If you separate your mouth into quadrants, you will spend 30 seconds on each section.
Which is better, a manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush?
The answer to this may come down to a personal preference. We treat many patients who use manual toothbrushes and have excellent oral health. However, if you need a bit of extra help, an electric toothbrush may be more effective at removing plaque. Because an electric toothbrush does some of the work for you, they may be better for people with limited mobility. Another advantage is electric toothbrushes often have built-in timers, making it much easier to brush for the recommended two minutes.
If you opt for a manual toothbrush, it’s important to be sure you choose the right one. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush, as recommended by the ADA. Using a harder bristled brush could actually damage your enamel and gums.
If you have questions about how to properly brush and/or floss, the experts at Westgrove Dental are always ready to help. Our dentists and hygienists can recommend the right type of toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to use to ensure your smile stays healthy, clean, and bright.