More than 1 in 4 adults in the United States has untreated tooth decay, and 46% of people over the age of 30 have some degree of gum disease. More eye-opening is the fact that 120 million people in the US are missing at least one tooth and 36 million are missing all of their teeth.
Since tooth decay and gum disease are the primary drivers of missing teeth, you want to do all you can to keep these problems at bay, which is the goal of good dental hygiene. While you may think that your dental regimen is solid, it’s worth reviewing whether you’re getting the most out of your efforts.
To that end, Dr. Mohammed Mansour and the team of dental experts here at Plano Dental Distinction want to quickly review how to brush and floss correctly so your teeth can go the distance.
Brushing, not scrubbing
When we say that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day — once in the morning and once before you go to bed — we mean brush, not scrub.
The goal of brushing is to remove bacteria-harboring plaque from your teeth while keeping your protective enamel intact. To accomplish both, it’s important that you think of brushing as a gentle cleansing with soft bristles, much like cleaning off dust and debris from your favorite antique table — you want to remove the debris without disturbing the finish.
At an angle
Once you gently brush the front and top surfaces of your teeth, angle your soft bristle brush to 45 degrees, which allows you to get to the backsides of your teeth and under your gumline on the front.
Be mindful and slow
It’s important that you tackle every surface possible, so you should spend some time brushing your teeth, one at a time. You can even set a timer for two minutes, which we’ve found is the ideal time for reaching every tooth. At the end, take your brush and very gently run it over the soft tissues in your mouth, including your gums and your tongue.
The importance of flossing
Even after following the brushing instructions above, you can still have food particles stuck between your teeth, which is where flossing comes in. With flossing, you can access the hard-to-reach spaces between your teeth with a thin string.
To floss properly, you should take a long piece of floss and wind most of it around one finger and a loop around the other. Now, start at the back of your mouth and insert the taut string between your teeth and gently move the string back and forth once or twice. When you pull the floss out, wrap the used piece around the finger that doesn’t have fresh floss and continue.
As you progress through your upper and lower teeth, the floss transfers from one finger to the other until you’re through.
You can also use special flossing tools, which you should rinse as you go.
If you don’t like flossing, water flossers are also great tools, but not all of these devices are created equal. For a list of devices approved by the American Dental Association, click here.
As for frequency of flossing, you should endeavor to do it once each day, preferably at the end of the day to remove food particles that you have accumulated.
With a great at-home dental regimen and regular professional cleanings twice a year with us, you can ensure a lifetime of healthy, strong teeth.
If you have more questions about dental hygiene or you want to schedule your cleaning, contact our office Plano, Texas, to set up an appointment.