Brushing for oral health
Brushing your teeth is an important part of your dental care routine. For a healthy mouth and smile, the ADA recommends you:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily.
- Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
- Make sure to use an ADA accepted fluoride toothpaste.
- The proper brushing technique is to:
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
- Gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
- Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.
Flossing for oral health
- Of course, brushing your teeth is only a part of a complete dental care routine. You should also make sure to:
- Clean between teeth daily with floss. Tooth decay-causing bacteria still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. This helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
- Flossing is an essential part of any oral health care routine. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day to achieve optimal oral health. By flossing daily, you help remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach. This is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Flossing also helps prevent gum disease and cavities.
- The most important thing about flossing is to do it. Pick a time of day when you can devote an extra couple of minutes to your oral hygiene. People who are too tired at the end of the day may benefit from flossing first thing in the morning or flossing after lunch.
Other oral health care tips
If you find flossing difficult, consider a different flossing method. People who have difficulty handling dental floss may prefer to use another kind of interdental cleaner such as a wooden plaque remover, dental pick, pre-threaded flosser or waterpick flosser. Ask your dentist how to use them properly to avoid injuring your gums. It could be that you simply need to try another type of dental floss—waxed, unwaxed, thick or comfort floss. Stick with it and you’ll have adopted a healthy hobby for life
When to see the dentist
To prevent gum disease and other oral health problems, schedule regular dental cleanings and exams generally twice a year. In the meantime, contact your dentist if you notice any signs or symptoms that could suggest oral health problems, such as:
Red, tender or swollen gums
Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
Gums that begin pulling away from your teeth
Loose permanent teeth
Changes in the way your top and bottom teeth align with each other
Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold
Persistent bad breath or an unusual taste in your mouth
Remember, early detection and treatment of problems with your gums, teeth and mouth can help ensure a lifetime of good oral health!