Brushing and Flossing Tips
Tooth brushing will remove dental plaque and other debris from your teeth. Plaque plays a primary role in oral disease such as tooth decay and gum disease. The best way to remove plaque from the tooth surface on a daily home care basis is through toothbrushing and some form of "between the teeth" cleaning.

The following toothbrush technique is commonly recommended by dental hygienists. You should see your dental hygienist to ensure that you are using a technique that meets your needs.

  • Use a soft bristled brush (synthetic bristles preferably because natural bristles tend to harbor the oral bacteria as the bristles are more porous). Be sure it is the right size (generally smaller is better than larger).
  • Place the bristles at a 45 degree angle to the teeth. Slide the tips of the brush under the gums.
  • Jiggle the bristles very gently so that any plaque growing under the gum will be removed.
  • Be sure to brush the outside, the tongue side and the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
  • For the front teeth, brush the inside surfaces of the upper and lower jaws by tilting the brush vertically and making several up and down strokes with the front part of the brush over the teeth and gum tissues.
  • Brushing your tongue will help freshen your breath. Debris and bacteria can collect on your tongue and cause bad breath.

Your toothbrush will only clean one or two teeth at a time. Be Mindful to change its position often to properly clean each tooth.

To prevent plaque damage, be sure to brush at least once every day, preferably at bedtime. Adding a brush time after breakfast increases your chances of thorough daily plaque removal.
Donít rush your brush. A thorough brushing should take at least 3 minutes.
Brushing the teeth too vigorously or using a hard bristled toothbrush causes the gums to recede and exposes root surfaces. It also wears down the tooth structure. Both of these conditions can lead to tooth sensitivity.

A pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste is all you need, should you choose to use a toothpaste.

Replace your brush when the bristles begin to spread. A worn out toothbrush will not properly clean your teeth.




Flossing helps to remove plaque from in between your teeth, in areas that your toothbrush canít reach. It is not the space between the teeth you are flossing, but the tooth surface. HOW TO FLOSS
  • Wrap about 18 inches of floss around the middle fingers of your hands.
  • Holding the floss tightly (use your thumbs and forefingers) gently guide the floss between your teeth. Never "snap" the floss as this can cut the gums.
  • When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth and gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel pressure against the tooth.
  • Gently scrape the side of the tooth with the floss.
  • Repeat this method on all your teeth.
  • Move to a clean area of floss after one or two teeth.
Donít be discouraged with your first attempt. Flossing is a skill that is learned and after a while, it will take only a few minutes of your time.

If you do not have good finger dexterity, you may find it helpful to use a commercial floss holder.

Children may find it easier to use a loop of floss. Take a piece of floss about 10 inches long and tie the ends together, into a circle. Then hold the floss tightly between the thumbs and forefingers to floss. Most children cannot floss their own teeth properly until about the age of 10.

Establish a regular pattern and time for flossing, so that you donít miss any of your teeth.

Remember to be gentle when inserting floss between your teeth and under the gumline. Flossing can injure your gums if done improperly.

Your gums may bleed and be sore for the first few days that you floss. Your gums should heal and the bleeding should stop once all the bacteria are removed.

See your dental hygienist for a demonstration. It takes practice.

Illustrations courtesy of Oral-B laboratories ©2003

This site is intended as general information only and should not
replace regular consultation with Dr.Talcott or the
Dental Hygienist. Copyright © 2003 Dr Bob Talcott, DDS

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