Establishing and sticking to a dental home care routine is absolutely essential to maintain good oral health. It’s the best defense you have to actively combat tooth decay and gum disease. However, to reap the benefits of diligent brushing and flossing— you’ll need to make sure that you’re using the right tools and techniques.
Choosing a Toothbrush
Selecting a toothbrush can feel like a daunting task with the many options lining store shelves. Although deciding on a toothbrush is in some ways a matter of personal preference, there are a few things you’ll need to look for:
- Choose a soft or extra soft brush head that fits your mouth
- Make sure the brush has rounded bristles to avoid damaging tooth enamel and gums
- Only purchase a toothbrush that bears the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal
It’s also important to replace your toothbrush every three to four months or at the first sign of wear. A brush head that’s frayed and worn will be less effective at cleaning teeth. Both manual and powered toothbrushes can effectively clean teeth. Our dental hygienist will be happy to help you decide whether a manual or powered brush is best for your needs.
Choosing a Toothpaste
Like toothbrushes, the variety of toothpastes on the market today can make choosing one overwhelming. Opting for anti-plaque or whitening properties is a matter of preference, but it’s especially important to select toothpaste that contains fluoride and wears the ADA Seal.
Not getting the results you want with your current toothpaste? Be sure to discuss this with our dental hygienist or dentist. Depending on your needs, a prescription-strength toothpaste could prove to be beneficial.
How to Brush Teeth
As of 2016, the American Dental Association recommends brushing for two minutes twice a day. Use a well-lit area with a mirror and set specific times dedicated to brushing. The ideal times to brush are first thing in the morning and just before bed. Again, you need to spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth to do a thorough job at removing plaque.
- Position your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to where the teeth meet gums and brush gently with short, circular strokes
- Brush the inner, outer and chewing surfaces of each tooth
- To clean the inside surface of your front teeth, position the brush tip vertically and use up-and-down strokes
- Brush tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria
Choosing Dental Floss
Flossing removes food particles and plaque that brushing alone can’t. It also comes in many varieties and should be chosen based on what works best with your teeth. For instance, if you have teeth that are crowded you may find that fray-resistant waxed floss works best.
How to Floss Teeth
You can floss before or after brushing. The most important thing is to do a thorough job using proper technique. Flossing incorrectly can damage gums, so be gentle and take your time— making sure to avoid snapping or forcing floss.
- Begin with about 18 inches of dental floss, winding most of it around each middle finger—leaving a span of an inch or two to work with
- Hold floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers and slide it gently up and down
- Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth making sure to reach beneath the gums
- Use fresh sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth
- To remove the floss, use the same up and down motion
Mouthwash & Rinses
Mouthwashes and rinses are available for a host of applications from tooth whitening to warding off gum disease. Remember that mouthwash is not a replacement for proper brushing and flossing. In general, mouthwashes and rinses vary greatly— so it’s helpful to speak with our hygienist or dentist for a recommendation that’s based on your state of oral health.
Additional Home Care Tips
- Do not ‘scrub’ or over-brush teeth
- Limit snacking between meals
- Rinse your mouth with water after sugary foods or drinks to lessen plaque formation
- Visit your dentist or hygienist every six months for a routine exam and cleaning