As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t really matter if you are flossing or brushing first. However, there are a few things you do need to pay attention to if you want to prevent decay and gum disease.
A healthy oral hygiene routine should involve brushing and brushing right. Some good tips to follow include:
Most dentists will recommend a soft bristle tooth brush and fluoride toothpaste. Find a brush with a small head that fits your mouth comfortably. This will provide you with better reach to all areas of the mouth. Then, as far as the type of handle, style of brush or shape of bristles—choose what works for you. You might also consider a powered toothbrush if you have limited mobility, find brushing difficult or are prone to gum disease.
You probably are not brushing as often or as long as your dentist would recommend even if you think you are. Next time you brush, pull out your phone or watch and time yourself. Most Americans spend about one minute brushing—instead of the recommended two to three minutes. This may seem like an abnormally long time, so listen to a full song or watch TV while you brush to make time go faster. Ideally, you should be brushing after every large meal—three times a day is best.
Some dentists say you should follow the same “bus route” every time you brush while others say you should try starting in a new place every time. What is important is you brush every surface of every tooth and include your gums and tongue. Do not use wide, side-to-side strokes. Instead focus on gentle, up-and-down or circular motions while holding your brush at a 45 degree angle.
What do you do with your brush when you finish? Many people quickly rinse it and toss it back in the drawer. Truth is, you need to make sure you properly clean and store your toothbrush, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Always rinse your toothbrush with warm to hot water. Shake it out firmly and allow it to dry in an upright position. Also, be sure to store your brush far away from the toilet and other people’s toothbrushes.
After three or four months of regular use your toothbrush gets too worn out to be useful. The bristles begin to fray and lose function. You should change your toothbrush if you have had a cold or a virus, because keeping it could lead to reinfection.
You should always partner brushing with flossing. But it won’t do any good if you are not flossing the right way. You can start by:
Many people think dental floss is the only tool they can use to clean between teeth. Today there are several different interdental products you can use. Consider wooden or plastic picks, a Waterpick or special brushes designed to clean between teeth.
Ideally, you should be flossing every time you brush, but few people do that. The dentist recommends you floss once in the morning after breakfast and once at night after dinner. This will eliminate the buildup of plaque between teeth.
A lot of patients try to use as little floss as possible. Don’t let this be you. Instead, tear off about 18 inches. Measure it out once so you can get an idea of how long that actually is. Then work your way through the floss, using a clean piece between each tooth.
A lot of people do not realize how similar flossing and brushing should be. You cannot use rough technique if you want to preserve hygiene. Instead, you need to focus on gently rubbing the sides of the tooth in an up-and-down motion. You should clean all the way up to the gumline without snapping the floss into your soft tissue. Clean every interdental surface and even floss the backs of your farthest molars.
When you purchase floss, you should buy an extra pack to go in your glove box or purse. That way you can have it on hand when you are at the movie theater or a lunch date and something gets caught between your teeth.
Call us today at 703-288-1800 to learn a few more basics about dental care.
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