What Is Proper Tooth Brushing and Flossing Technique?

An effective oral hygiene routine starts with a few simple steps:

A proper brushing technique for your teeth

A proper tooth brushing technique is the first step to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Plus, it helps minimize the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, the major causes of tooth loss.

Before you start

While there are several tooth brushing techniques with a manual toothbrush, always ask your dental professional for their recommendation and be sure to follow their instructions. To start, use fluoride toothpaste with a soft-bristle toothbrush, and don’t forget to replace it every three months.

Two Minutes, Twice a Day

To brush your teeth correctly, spend at least two minutes using a recommended brushing technique, which includes 30 seconds brushing each section of your mouth (upper right, upper left, lower right and lower left), both morning and night. Since most manual toothbrushes don’t have built-in two-minute timers, you may want to have a clock handy so you can be sure you’re brushing long enough.

Positioning the toothbrush

How you hold the toothbrush depends on which part of the tooth you’re brushing.
  1. Start with outer and inner surfaces, and brush at a 45-degree angle in short, half-tooth-wide strokes against the gum line. Make sure you reach your back teeth.
  2. Move on to chewing surfaces. Hold the brush flat and brush back and forth along these surfaces.
  3. Once you get to the inside surfaces of your front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and use gentle up-and-down strokes with the tip of brush.
  4. Be sure to brush gently along the gum line.
  5. Brush your tongue in a back-to-front sweeping motion to remove food particles and help remove odor-causing bacteria to freshen your breath.
Now that you’ve learned proper brushing technique, a little discipline in practicing it every day will help make it feel like second nature. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to maintain the health of your teeth and gums.

Proper flossing technique

  1. Use about 18 inches of floss, so you have a clean piece of floss to use on each tooth in the cleaning process.
  2. Curve the floss into a C-shape as you slide it up and down along the side of each tooth.
  3. Don’t forget to floss the back sides of your back teeth on both the left and right of the upper and lower teeth.
Proper brushing and flossing technique as part of your daily oral care routine are the most important components in the fight to keep your teeth plaque free – and protecting your teeth and gums for a lifetime.

How do I brush with an electronic toothbrush?

You can achieve better plaque removal and gingivitis reduction with an electric toothbrush that utilizes oscillating-rotating technology than with a regular manual toothbrush. This brushing action is very different from ordinary manual toothbrushes, as it does the job of brushing for you. Be sure to guide the brush head to all parts of your mouth. 1. Hold the brush parallel to the floor, against the side of your teeth. 2. Guide the brush head slowly from tooth to tooth, following the curve of the teeth and gums. It isn’t necessary to press hard or scrub. Simply let the electric  toothbrush do all the work. Hold the brush head in place for a few seconds before moving on to the next tooth. 3. Don’t forget to reach all areas, including the insides, outsides, chewing surfaces, and behind your back teeth.

How much toothpaste should I use?

Chances are, the amount of toothpaste that you use each day has been the same since you can remember ever brushing your teeth. You may be surprised to find out that you’re probably using too much! Sure, most people know that they want to keep the product out of the reach of children (in case of accidental ingestion) but is there such a thing as too much or too little on your toothbrush each day? Using too much toothpaste (like the long smears you see on commercials) can mask your mouth into thinking you’ve gotten it cleaner than you really have. As the tingly mint flavors and sensations coat your tongue and teeth, there may still be plaque left behind. Using a smaller amount will provide your tooth enamel with adequate fluoride while helping you to detect any areas that may not be getting as clean as they ought to. In fact, some dentists and hygienists even recommend brushing your teeth without toothpaste first, and then going back after your teeth feel clean to brush again with toothpaste. This helps the fluoride and other minerals work better and can significantly reduce the amount of plaque or tartar buildup that people tend to get between dental checkups. Adults - a pea sized amount For adults or anyone that’s old enough to brush their teeth independently (including children that can rinse well and floss on their own,) only a pea sized amount of toothpaste is necessary. Anything more than this is unnecessary. Kids - rice grain sized smear As soon as your little one starts to get teeth, it’s important to start using fluoridated toothpaste. Experts recommend using fluoridated products earlier, but only an amount that’s the size of a grain of rice. That way if it’s accidentally swallowed, it won’t be enough to cause intestinal problems or issues with tooth development.

What about prescription strength toothpaste?

If your dentist prescribes a special toothpaste for you to use, he or she may want you to use it at night after you’ve already brushed with another toothpaste. That way the prescription grade product can have maximum contact with your already clean teeth and work as designed. Most prescription toothpastes contain a higher concentration of fluoride, which is why they’re sold behind the counter at pharmacies. As with everyday toothpastes, you only need to use an amount about the size of a pea when you’re brushing with a prescription grade gel. Any more than that, and you could accidentally swallow too much fluoride and get an upset stomach.

What kind of toothpaste should I get?

For some of us, the toothpaste isle in our favorite drugstore can seem overwhelming. The dozens of brands multiplied by the various types of product choices make toothpaste selection feel like a game of chance. Is it as easy as picking your favorite shampoo and sticking with it for decades? How can you be so sure that you’re getting the best type of toothpaste for your oral health needs? Specialized Formulas If you don’t have specific types of dental concerns, an ADA-approved fluoridated toothpaste is generally appropriate. Backed by professional research and carefully formulated for precise mineral levels that promote healthy tooth enamel, it’s hard to go wrong. But if you have specific types of dental problems, you’ll want to select a toothpaste formula that’s uniquely designed for those needs. Whitening — One of the most popular types of toothpaste you can buy is for whitening. But be warned, a whitening toothpaste can only do so much when it comes to the color of your teeth. It can help to limit superficial stains from everyday cups of coffee, but it won’t lift tenacious internal discoloration. As an important side note, tooth sensitivity is a common side-effect of everyday use of whitening toothpaste. Sensitivity — Gum recession or whitening products may make your teeth more sensitive than they used to be. With a toothpaste formulated for sensitivity, the added minerals help to block off the microscopic pores in your teeth, preventing nerve irritation when temperatures change, or cold air comes into contact with them. A sensitivity toothpaste can take about two weeks of daily use before you’ll see the full effects. Cavity Control — If you have a history of recurring cavities, acid reflux disease, acidic diet, or are prone to decay because of exposed root surfaces, then a standard cavity-control toothpaste is a great choice. This type of formula is more of a generic everyday product that anyone can use, but it’s especially beneficial to people with ongoing dental problems. Gum Health — Are you prone to gingivitis? Chronic puffy or red gums are more of a problem for some people than others, especially if you’re pregnant or have diabetes. Periodontal disease is a common cause for tooth loss, so if you haven’t had trouble keeping your teeth healthy but you do tend to have gum issues, then this type of toothpaste may work best. Prescription strength toothpaste from your dentist From time to time, dentists may prescribe special toothpaste for their patients due to extensive enamel demineralization, sensitivity, or tooth decay. This type of toothpaste helps remineralize teeth to stop the earliest signs of cavities or even reverse early symptoms. “Natural” and “Holistic” Toothpastes Some people feel that it’s healthier to choose fluoride-free toothpaste from “natural” brands sold stores. This minor routine change can deprive your tooth enamel of the natural minerals that it needs to stay strong.

What Happens if I Don’t Brush My Teeth?

You’ve always heard that you’re supposed to brush your teeth for two minutes twice per day. But what happens if you don’t? Maybe you went through a period of poor lifestyle choices, suffered from a severe medical condition, or have a child that just doesn’t care about tooth brushing. If you were to go without brushing your teeth, this is what would happen: 1. Plaque and tartar develops - The very first thing you would notice if you don’t brush your teeth is an increase in plaque formation. Plaque develops within a matter of minutes after each meal…and it calcifies within at least 24 hours. Gradually, you will begin to notice a soft white or yellow film coating your teeth. Either you will feel it with your tongue, or it will be visible in the mirror. The plaque will be thickest along the gumlines. Within weeks or months, heavy tartar buildup will start to form a sheet over the lower front and upper back teeth. Eventually this calculus will take on stains, turning brown or yellow, as it spreads into adjacent areas and under your gums. 2. Gingivitis takes hold - Within days or a couple of weeks without brushing, you will start to get gingivitis. Your gums will begin to swell and turn a bright red due to the inflammation. Brushing and flossing will cause them to bleed. Even irregular brushing and flossing can allow gingivitis to form. Here’s a tip: it takes up to two weeks of rigorous home hygiene for symptoms to reverse. 3. Teeth Begin to Decay - As plaque rests on top of your enamel, it creates acid byproducts each time you eat. Certain diets — such as those rich in carbs or sugars — will lead to higher acid production. Your enamel will begin to demineralize. As it becomes soft, white spots develop on its surface. Gradually, those weak areas erode, creating cavities across your teeth. Because cavities are bacterial infections, they can spread to neighboring teeth, creating a “chain reaction” throughout your mouth. 4. Gum Disease Advances - Your gingivitis now becomes periodontal disease. The bacteria inside of the plaque and tartar have started to work their way down under the gumlines, causing your gums to detach from your teeth and the bone supporting them to erode. At first, you’ll notice your gumlines start to recede. Your teeth will begin to feel loose and maybe a little sensitive due to the exposed roots. Visible spaces or gaps will be noticeable between them. 5. You Lose Your Teeth - Whether due to rapid bone loss around your teeth, or emergency extractions due to large, painful cavities, you will ultimately wind up losing your smile. It may take years or even decades, but it will eventually happen.

Healthy teeth during the holidays

Scheduling is Key

Technically, it’s worse for your teeth to snack on things frequently throughout the day than it is to have your holiday sweets right after a meal. Since acid exposure takes place each time you snack, it’s better to restrict it to specific times during the day instead of a more frequent basis. For example, if you want to have a few Christmas cookies, eat them right after your meal instead of nibbling on them all afternoon.

Sip on Water Between Meals

Water helps to wash away sugars to neutralize pH levels inside your mouth. If you’re not able to brush during the day, at least sip on water or rinse your mouth out well at the sink. Just remember, rinsing doesn’t replace brushing and flossing.

Opt for Fresh Fruits When Possible

A crunchy apple or pear is good for your teeth and gums while you chew it. The texture massages your gums and helps wipe away loose biofilm on your tooth enamel. If you’re snacking at a holiday party, try to end with these foods after indulging on any processed carbs.

Check for Xylitol

Mints or gum with xylitol in them can help strengthen teeth and make them resistant to decay. Although xylitol is a sugar substitute, it’s best not used for cooking your holiday goodies as it can lead to stomach irritation if you ingest too much. But if you’re chewing gum or sucking on a mint, it’s fine!

Patient Education. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2020, from www.koiscenter.com/patient-education