Proper Brushing and Flossing Techniques

1 Nov

flossingIn order to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and to contribute to your overall health it is important to correctly brush and floss your teeth.

It’s recommended that you brush at least two times a day once in the morning and again in the evening just before you go to bed. If you can manage it you should brush after every meal though this is not always practical. The teeth should be brushed for at least two minutes covering all both sides of the tooth and also the top of the tooth. It’s also a good idea to brush your gums as well as this helps keep them healthy and removes food particles that may have become trapped in the folds between your mouth and gum.

Over time bacteria build up on your teeth and gums creating a bacterial coating or biofilm more commonly known as plaque. When the bacteria digest the sugar from our food in our mouths they produce acid which slowly dissolves our tooth enamel. The plaque also helps to keep the acid trapped in close proximity to our teeth. The slow corrosive effect of this acid is what causes cavities to develop.

If the plaque is left long enough minerals from your saliva will cause the plaque to turn into tartar which is a hard substance that can’t be removed by brushing. Tartar is only removable by having your teeth cleaned professionally by a dental hygienist. The rough surface created by the tartar makes it an even better environment for bacterial growth.

The buildup of plaque will cause irritation and inflammation of your gums which Dentists refer to as gingivitis. When the irritation becomes so severe that it causes you to lose the connecting tissue that attach the gums to the teeth it is called periodontitis. As well as causing the gums to recede the bacteria can lead to bad breath and chronic inflammation of the gums. The bacteria is also able to build up even more with the spaces caused by your receding gum line. There is also evidence that these bacteria cause cardiovascular disease.

The key to avoiding this is to use the right type of toothbrush and use it properly. Dentists recommend a soft bristled brush so as not to damage the gums or tooth enamel when vigorously brushing. It’s also important to choose a brush with a smaller head if your mouth is smaller. If you’re unsure any Dentist in Austin TX should be able to help you choose.

Just as important as selecting the correct tool is using it correctly. You should put the bristles directly on the gum line where it meets the tooth at a 45 degree angle making sure to contact the surface of the tooth and the gum. Brush the outer surfaces of 2 to 3 teeth with a rolling back and forth motion then move on to the next set of 2 or 3 teeth until the whole of the outside facing teeth are brushed. Next repeat the same maneuver on the inside of the teeth using the same rolling back and forth motion until all the inner tooth surfaces have been dealt with. You should then place the tooth brush behind the front teeth and perform several upward and downward strokes using the front half of the toothbrush. Finally the biting surface of the teeth should be brushed by scrubbing back and forth gently. You should also brush the tongue as this helps remove odor causing bacteria.
Your tooth brush should be replaced at least once every 3 months and sooner if you notice the bristles are worn.

The next best line of defense is to regularly floss your teeth. Start by winding floss around the middle fingers of each hand, use about 20’’. Use about 2’’ held between your thumb and index finger. Use your thumb to move the floss between your upper teeth and use your index finger to get the floss in between your lower teeth. The dental  floss should be moved in a zig-zag motion and slid up and down on the tooth and under the gum line.