Ideally, brushing your teeth after each meal removes the debris from the food immediately so that it cannot form plaque. Plaque is the film of bacteria that, if left on the teeth, forms cavities. If brushing after every meal is not possible, brushing at least twice daily is recommended.
Tips for Brushing
- Choose a soft toothbrush that is of appropriate size (smaller for children) and use a pea –sized amount of toothpaste on the brush.
- Holding the brush at a 45 angle to the gum line, move the brush in a circular motion along the teeth. This cleans the outer tooth surface as well as under the edge of the gum.
- It is not necessary to press too hard on the brush.
- Next, brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth in a back-and-forth motion.
- Returning to a circular motion, brush the inner sides of the teeth, near the tongue, including behind the front top and bottom teeth.
- Brush the tongue gently to remove bacteria. This will also make your breath fresher.
- Tooth brushing should take around three minutes.
- Rinse your mouth and toothbrush well.
- Replace the toothbrush every three to four months or after you have been sick.
Floss your teeth every day. When you floss, you remove the food and plaque from between your teeth where the toothbrush bristles cannot reach.
Tips for Flossing
- Try different kinds of flosses to find the one that works best for you. There are very thin flosses, thicker ones, ones that are flavored and ones that are not. Flossers, with a small piece of floss tightly strung on a handle, are also available and may be easier for children and others.
- If using regular floss (not a flosser), pull approximately 12-18 inches from the container.
- Wind the floss around your middle fingers, leaving about an inch to hold between your index finger and thumb. This is the section you will be using first.
- Carefully push the floss between the teeth. You may start wherever you like, simply ensure that you floss between all of your teeth.
- Move the floss up the side of the tooth and around the gum line; repeat on the other side of the tooth.
- Floss between ALL teeth, including the molars.
- Move the floss as it gets dirty or frays by rolling more onto one middle finger and releasing some from the other so that you have a new, clean one inch section to use.
Your diet affects your oral health as much as your brushing and flossing habits. For proper nutrition, your diet should consist of a variety of foods, but not too many sugary foods. These kinds of foods promote more acid production in the mouth and this promotes cavities. Candies like lollipops and hard candies have an increased potential to create decay because they are in the mouth for a longer period of time. Another reason sugary snacks lead to cavities is that people don’t usually brush after they eat them.
Using a fluoride rinse each day before bed may help reduce bacteria in the mouth, according to the American Dental Association. Fewer bacteria equal a lower risk for cavities. These rinses are NOT recommended for children under six because they may swallow the rinse rather than spit it out, causing toxic symptoms.
Regular Visits to the Dentist
Everyone should see their dentist every six months for a cleaning and full oral examination. This allows the dentist to see any changes in the teeth, gums, or mouth and treat problems early.
If you have tooth or gum pain or bleeding, call your dentist between appointments to ensure that your oral health is not compromised.