Dentists tell us all the time to brush and floss our teeth regularly if we want to keep our pearly whites even when we’re old. The problem is many adults still don’t know how to do them correctly.
Improper brushing or flossing can potentially lead to oral health problems such as gum disease or even tooth loss. To avoid these, here are five brushing and flossing tips to remember:
1. See Your Dentist First
If you want to know how to brush and floss your teeth properly, you need to see your dentist. In general, experts recommend scheduling an appointment at least once a year. If you have persisting issues like gum inflammation or dental cavities, you may have to visit them twice a year.
Dentists are your best allies in keeping your oral cavity healthy. They can conduct a thorough exam and assess your risk for gum disease, so they can offer suggestions to help you better maintain your oral health. They can also perform procedures like deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar below the gum line.
2. Brush Your Teeth Properly
- You need a proper technique when brushing your teeth. To brush your teeth correctly, experts recommend the following:
- Place a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a dry, soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Hold the toothbrush in an upright position with bristles at a 45-degree angle to your gums.
- Gently move the toothbrush from one end of your mouth to another in a small circular motion.
- Brush your outer and inner tooth surfaces as well as the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
Recently, there’s much discussion about whether you should spit the toothpaste out. The consensus is not to do it since you want to maximize the efficiency of the fluoride on the toothpaste.
However, since most are used to spitting (and it now feels gross not to do it), you might want to gargle a fluoride-containing mouthwash after brushing your teeth.
As to how long you need to brush, consider doing it for at least two minutes. This way, you are sure to get rid of all the bacteria and food particles on your teeth.
3. Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly
To maintain a clean mouth, experts recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles become frayed with use. In general, toothbrushes should be replaced after illness or when bristles become worn to avoid replacing toothbrushes too often.
If your dentist recommends a more frequent change because of gum disease, you may want to replace your brush as often as twice a month.
4. Floss Your Teeth Properly
A 2016 study once revealed that as low as 10 percent of adults floss their teeth. Many consider this a futile practice, but in reality, it comes with many benefits.
Flossing your teeth helps remove plaque and bacteria from between your teeth and gums. This can help prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.
To floss your teeth properly, you need to:
- Cut off a piece of floss about 18 inches long. If the floss is waxed, moisten it so it slides through your fingers easily.
- Holding the floss tightly between thumbs and forefingers and wrap it around the middle fingers from each hand so that about three inches of floss extends between them.
- Guide the floss firmly between each tooth and under the gum line without bending it at a right angle where it may snap or break.
- Use a gentle back-and-forth motion to bring about 1 inch of floss into contact with the side of each tooth, using your thumbs on the upper teeth and forefingers on the lower teeth.
- Wrap fresh sections of floss around your middle fingers as you work until you’ve flossed all your teeth.
Ideally, you should clean one tooth at a time and pull out fresh floss from between your fingers for each new tooth.
5. Choose Your Toothbrush Correctly
Some toothbrushes are soft, medium, or hard. Generally, soft-bristled toothbrushes are good for people with sensitive teeth and gums. Medium-bristled toothbrushes work well in most cases.
They may also be manual or electric. Manual toothbrushes are the most common, and they differ in terms of the hardness and the directions or patterns of the bristles. Electric toothbrushes can also be useful in removing plaque and tartar since the bristles rotate, but they’re more expensive than the manual kind.
You may want to talk with your dentist about the stiffness of your toothbrush depending on your gum health status.
Taking good care of your teeth and gums can help prevent various oral problems. To achieve this goal, follow the tips outlined in this article on how to brush and floss your teeth properly.