Importance of Proper Brushing and Flossing
Palo Alto, CA
As a family dentist, we here at Palo Alto Oral Health can help you, and your loved ones maintain excellent oral health. Along with checkups and professional cleanings, proper brushing and flossing are the best way to uphold a healthy and beautiful smile. If you have questions or concerns related to brushing and flossing, our team is happy to review the proper techniques during your appointment.
Why Do We Brush and Floss?
Plaque is a sticky biofilm, constantly forming on and around our teeth that contain harmful bacteria. If plaque is allowed to build up, it will eventually calcify into tartar, which often requires professional cleaning for proper removal. Both plaque and tartar can cause significant complications for your oral health.
The bacteria found in plaque and tartar is directly responsible for the two most common dental problems: tooth decay and gum disease. The bacteria produce acids that attack the enamel and cause the development of cavities. In response to this bacteria, our immune system produces a toxin that results in the infection we refer to as gum disease.
We brush and floss our teeth to keep plaque, tartar, and bacteria at bay. Brushing removes plaque before it calcifies into tartar. Flossing removes food debris and plaque from in between the teeth, areas that the bristles of a toothbrush cannot penetrate. Brushing and flossing is a vital part of preventing tooth decay and gum disease, especially for children.
Proper Brushing Technique
When brushing and flossing, it is important to remind yourself why you are doing it: to remove plaque and bacteria. The following tips can help you implement the proper brushing technique:
|Use the right toothbrush. Most people should purchase a soft-bristle toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).
|Brush properly. Tilt the brush at a 45-degree angle while brushing, and be sure to get every surface of the tooth. The goal is to clean the inner, outer, and occlusal surfaces of your teeth.
|Be thorough. You should be spending at least two minutes brushing your teeth, every time. Most people fall short of this goal as two minutes may seem much longer while brushing. It may be helpful to use a timer or stopwatch.
|Be gentle. This is a tip that often goes ignored. Aggressive or overbrushing can damage the outer layer of the tooth, known as enamel. While brushing, use gentle, short, and precise strokes in a back and forth motion.
|Brush your tongue. Our tongues contain lots of bacteria that can cause bad breath. Brushing your tongue is an essential part of your oral hygiene routine.
Proper Flossing Technique
Along with brushing at least twice a day, you should be flossing before bed. While flossing, pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss out of your floss dispenser. Next, wrap the ends of the floss around your middle and index fingers. While keeping it taut, move the floss gently around the side of each tooth to remove food debris and plaque from underneath the gum tissue. Be sure to use a clean area of the floss for each tooth.
Schedule Your Appointment
If you or a family member would like to learn more about proper brushing and flossing, our team is happy to help! Call (650) 321-9693 to schedule an appointment today!