A toothbrush and floss are a team, together they can reach and clean all surfaces of your teeth. There are places that bristles of the tooth brush cannot reach – that is where floss comes in – and visa versa. There are five surfaces of each tooth, brushing reaches three, and flossing reaches the other two. Plaque left on any surface of the tooth will cause weakening of the enamel and decay. Plaque left on the gums surrounding the teeth will lead to weakening of the soft tissue and gum disease.
Plaque is very sticky, so physical contact with a toothbrush bristle or floss is necessary for removal. Please keep in mind though, that it is also very soft. Gentle pressure when brushing and flossing will be adequate to clean your teeth and gums. Too much/excessive pressure will lead to gum recession and removal of healthy tooth structure.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach plaque that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle to your teeth, pointing the bristles at the line between the teeth and gums. Brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas that the bristles are able to reach. It will take you at least two minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush the lower teeth first, cleaning the fronts, chewing surfaces, and tongue side separately, then brush the same three sides on the upper teeth. When brushing the fronts and tongue sides, angle the bristles down at the gum line on the lower teeth, and up at the gum line on the upper teeth. Brush your tongue as well. Do not swallow any toothpaste. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing.
Brush your teeth two times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque.
Replace your toothbrush with a new one every three to four months.
The bristles of your toothbrush should be as straight when you throw it away as they were when you started using it. If they look frayed or bent this is a sign that you are using excessive force when brushing and are potentially irreversibly damaging your teeth and gums.
Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon or other material that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day. No rinse or other agent is able to remove the plaque from the tooth surface successfully.
Pull a length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque. For each space, the floss should travel on both sides separately. Guide the floss against the tooth at the front of the space all the way between that tooth and the pink triangle of gum tissue until you meet resistance. Then move the floss back over the gum tissue and clean the tooth and gum at the back of the space. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go and use a fresh section as often as necessary so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. In addition to flossing each side of each space, you should floss behind all four of your back teeth.
Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few weeks, let a staff member know at your next appointment.
Flossing is one of the hardest habits to start. You feel as though you are being punished for doing something good. It takes forever, is uncomfortable, makes your gums bleed, and is awkward. Please know that if you start a habit and stick with it daily for two to three weeks, your gums will be so much healthier that it will be comfortable with no bleeding. Also your fingers get the muscle memory of each space so that it becomes less awkward, and much faster! Easy, comfortable, and quick (less than a minute) is the goal for your flossing habit!
The teeth, bones and soft tissues of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups help minimize and avoid cavities and other dental problems. Consumption of foods that contain sugars and starches should be decreased. These foods can include candies, cookies, chips and crackers. Healthier foods, such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, help promote stronger teeth.
In order to maintain a healthy smile, it is vital to have professional cleanings and regular check-ups. You should visit your general dentist at least twice a year (once every six months) for a check-up. The dentist will examine your teeth and provide an evaluation of existing dental problems and proposed treatment. Some patients require dental cleanings four to six times a year, some require only one or two. Each of our patients is individually evaluated and receives a personalized dental cleaning schedule recommendation.
If you have a dental emergency, you should call our office immediately.