Brushing your teeth effectively takes time. A rush job might be more convenient, but you aren’t actually getting your teeth completely clean. It’s important to try to reach all surfaces of your teeth and gum line, otherwise plaque can build up and lead to some pretty serious issues.
How to Brush:
- With the toothbrush at a 45deg angle, move it in a back and forth and circular motion around each tooth and the gum line.
- Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth in the same fashion.
- Use the tip of the brush to get the backs of your front teeth, top and bottom. Again, back and forth and circular motions.
- Brush your tongue with forward strokes (it isn’t necessary to scrub) to remove bacteria that can cause bad breath.
When brushing, it’s very important to use a soft bristled brush and to do so carefully. It doesn’t take much pressure to remove plaque from around each tooth. Think of it as gently cleaning one tooth, and the surrounding gum, at a time. Is it tedious? Sure, but so is sitting through a root canal. Choose your battles.
Why should I floss?
Most people don’t floss their teeth, and by skipping this step they’re leaving up to 40% of the surface of their teeth uncleaned. A common misconception is that you floss to remove food from between your teeth. While this is the case, you’re also flossing to remove plaque that brushing didn’t reach. This plaque is what will cause tooth decay.
How to Floss:
- Using 18 to 24 inches of floss, wrap the ends around your index and middle fingers.
- Move the floss back and forth in a sawing motion and up and down against the side of each tooth. Never snap or force the floss between your teeth as this can hurt your gums.
- Make sure that you’re cleaning, not just between the teeth, but also right below the gumline as well.
Quite often people hate flossing because it hurts, but if it’s painful that just means that you’re doing it wrong. You need to be gentle, just like when you’re brushing.
Brushing and flossing twice a day are the absolute bare minimum of your oral health routine. If you’re looking to go above and beyond, here are a few extra tips to keep in mind;
- Rinsing with mouthwash after brushing and flossing can help remove additional plaque that wasn’t dislodged or that you couldn’t reach. It can also kill germs that cause bad breath.
- It’s recommended that you brush after meals, but if that isn’t possible chewing gum can help remove food particles from your mouth.
- Don’t brush your teeth immediately after exposure to acidic food and drinks. These can soften the enamel which increases the chance of erosion if you brush immediately after consumption. Drink or rinse with water immediately after eating, and then wait 30 minutes to brush.
The bottom line is that taking care of your teeth shouldn’t be painful. If it is, you should take a closer look at the way that you’re brushing and flossing. If you still experience pain, or have concerns about your teeth and gums, you should look to your local periodontist, like Dr. Kenzik in Ormond Beach. He can provide the knowledge and expertise you need to feel confident about how you care for your smile!