Preventive Dentistry, Part II – Brushing and Flossing

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Let’s get some information on the previously-mentioned aspects of preventive dentistry.

What are some tips for brushing teeth properly?

Brushing your teeth after all meals (or at the very least twice every day) and flossing daily helps remove plaque from your teeth. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, plaque can build up inside your mouth to create acid-producing bacteria and tartar that cause tooth decay and gum disease. An important thing to remember is that, while many people brush twice a day, the duration for which they brush is often less than a minute. Most dentists in the DC Metro region recommend that one should brush for at least three minutes. Also, brushing after eating is key! Brushing before meals does nothing to remove food debris, which is the medium in which the bacteria produce dental decay, so make sure you are brushing after each of your meals. There is more than one way to brush your teeth, so it’s a good idea to ask your dentist which one to use. Here are a few tips to help you start a good routine:

1. Place the toothbrush against your gumline at a 45-degree angle. Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
2. Brush the outer tooth surfaces, keeping the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.

3. Brush the inner tooth surfaces, still with the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle.

4. Brush the chewing surfaces.

5. Use the top part of the brush to clean the inside surface of the top and bottom front teeth. Use a gentle up-and-down motion.

6. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath. Make sure to brush from the back of your tongue to the front. Never in a back-and-forth motion, as this will only spread the bacteria around.

Why do I need to clean between my teeth?

There are places your toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing removes plaque and food particles that lodge between your teeth and under your gumline. Your dentist or hygienist can show you the right way to floss. It may feel clumsy at first, but don’t give up. It takes time to get the hang of it.

If you don’t floss regularly, you may experience sore or bleeding gums for the first five or so days that you floss. This should stop once the plaque is broken up and the bacteria are removed. If bleeding does not stop, see your dentist.

Healthy Smile Tips for Life!

Healthy smiles make great impressions. To keep your mouth in good condition,

– Always brush at least twice a day (after eating)

– Clean between your teeth daily

– Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks, and

– Visit your dentist regularly for a dental exam and professional teeth cleaning!