The Best Way to Brush and Floss

Proper Brushing and Flossing Methods

Studies show that Adults over 35 actually lose more teeth due to gum diseases than from cavities. 75% of adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent tooth loss from gum disease or cavities is through daily brushing and flossing with correct technique every day.

Periodontal diseases and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a white or colorless film which can grow on areas of your teeth near the gum line. Without thorough brushing and flossing, plaque constantly grows on the teeth and can cause gingivitis (bleeding gums) which leads to periodontal disease (bone loss).

How to Brush Properly

If you experience pain while brushing or have any questions related to brushing properly, please contact our office for a consultation. Dr. Heaton recommends the use of a soft bristled tooth brush which will not cause damage to the teeth or gums. Position your tooth brush at a 45 degree angle at the point where your teeth and gums meet. Using circular gentle strokes, clean all of the surfaces on the outside of your teeth. Use just enough pressure to clean effectively without causing any discomfort.

Once the outer surfaces of your teeth have been cleaned, repeat this process on the inside of the back teeth.

In order to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes on each tooth. Finish by gently brushing the surrounding gum tissue.

The biting surfaces of your teeth should be cleaned with gentle short strokes in a variety of positions which allow for you to clean all of the biting surfaces of your teeth. Check in the mirror to make sure that you are reaching all of the necessary surfaces. Spit any remaining toothpaste into the sink to remove any plaque or food particles that you’ve loosened during the brushing process. Do not rinse your mouth. Your toothpaste most likely has fluoride in it and the longer it is in contact with your teeth, the more effective it is in helping to protect against decay.

How to Floss Properly

Most Periodontal diseases appear in hard to reach places where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is important because it is a method of reaching these spaces where plaque and tartar build up the most often. Just like brushing, technique is extremely important and can help to strengthen the results of your hygiene practices.

Start with a piece of floss (waxed is preferred) about 18 inches long. Wrap most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand and wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand.

When cleaning the upper teeth, hold the floss between the thumb and forefinger of each hand and gently insert the floss between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it quickly into place. Bring the floss to the gumline slowly and then curve it into a c shape against one tooth. Slide the floss up and down on one side of the tooth carefully, and then move the floss across to form a c shape on the adjacent tooth. Remember that there are two surfaces to clean in each space. Try not to cut the gums above the space because it will ruin your floss. To get a new section of floss, turn from one finger to the other.

When cleaning the bottom teeth, use your forefingers to guide the floss and between the teeth carefully. Use the same c shape contouring to clean both surfaces in each space.

After you have finished flossing all of the spaces between your teeth, rinse thoroughly to remove any loosened plaque or food. It is normal to experience bleeding or soreness throughout the first week of flossing. If this bleeding or soreness continues beyond a week, you might not be using the correct flossing technique. Flossing daily to remove plaque from gums is extremely important for maintaining dental health.

How to Care for Sensitive Teeth

Some of our dental treatments might cause your teeth to be temporarily sensitive to hot or cold. This sensitivity typically does not last more than a few days if your mouth is kept clean. If you do not maintain proper dental hygiene, this sensitivity will take longer to go away and might become more severe. If you experience severe sensitivity, we might recommend a medicated toothpaste or rinse designed to help with this type of sensitivity issues.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

Because of the diversity and the number of products in the dental hygiene industry, it can become difficult to choose between products. Here are our suggestions which should help you in deciding which products are best for you.

Electric or Automatic toothbrushes are safe and can often be more effective for the majority of patients. Oral irrigators (water-picks) can help to rinse your mouth and remove food debris, but will not aid in removing plaque. It is important to brush and floss in conjunction with a water pick to rinse out your teeth. The best results that we have seen are with electric toothbrushes called Rotadent and Interplak.

Many toothbrushes are fitted with a rubber tip on the handle. This tip should be used to massage the gums after brushing. Many toothbrushes also have tiny brushes which (interproximal toothbrushes) which are designed to clean between your teeth. If used improperly, your gums could be injured by these brushes. Please discuss proper usage with Dr. Heaton at your cleaning appointment.

Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses used in addition to brushing and flossing can reduce tooth decay up to 40%. However, mouth rinses are not recommended for children under the age of six because of the risk of swallowing. Tartar control toothpastes can be used to reduce tartar above the gum line, but have not been proven to reduce the early stages of gum disease.

ADA approved anti-plaque rinses contain ingredients that will help to control the early stages of gum disease. These rinses should be used in conjunction with brushing and flossing.

Professional Cleaning

Even if your dental hygiene practices are extremely thorough and regular, all patients will still require professional cleaning to remove tartar, or calculus, in places that floss and brushes miss. We recommend professional cleanings every 6 months to prevent gum disease.

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