accessibility ACCESSIBILITY
Call: (203) 838-5322

How to Properly Brush & Floss

Brushing and flossing are the keys to good oral hygiene.  Though professional dental cleanings remove plaque, tartar and debris, excellent home care is essential to maintain oral health.  Proper brushing and flossing will enhance the health of the mouth, make the smile sparkle and prevent serious diseases.

Reasons why proper brushing and flossing are essential:

  • Prevention of tooth decay – Tooth decay is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, and its treatment often requires complex dental procedures.  Tooth decay occurs when the acids found in plaque erode the natural enamel found on the teeth.  This can easily be prevented by using proper home hygiene methods.
  • Prevention of periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is a serious, progressive condition which can cause gum recession and jawbone recession, and tooth loss.  Periodontal disease is caused by the toxins found in plaque and the inflammation that results, and can lead to serious health problems in other parts of the body.  Removing plaque and calculus (tartar) from the surface of the tooth using a toothbrush, and from the interdental areas using dental floss, is an excellent way to stave off periodontal problems.
  • Prevention of halitosis – Bad breath or halitosis is usually caused by old food particles on or between the teeth.  These food particles can be removed with regular brushing and flossing, leaving the breath smelling fresher.
  • Prevention of staining – Plaque can be stained by a wide variety of factors including smoking, red wine, coffee and tea.  The more regularly these staining agents are removed from the teeth using brushing and flossing techniques, the less likely it is that the stains will become permanent.

The Proper Way to Brush

The teeth should be brushed at least twice a day; ideally in the morning and before bed.  The perfect toothbrush is small in size with soft, rounded-end bristles. The head of the brush needs to be small enough to access all areas of the mouth, and the bristles should be soft enough so as not to cause undue damage to the gum tissue.  The American Dental Association (ADA) has given electric and battery-operated toothbrushes their seal of approval.

Here is a basic guide to proper brushing:

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where the gums and teeth meet.
  2. Use small circular motions to gently brush the gumline and teeth.
  3. Do not scrub or apply too much pressure to the teeth, as this can damage the gums and root of the tooth.
  4. Brush every surface of every tooth, cheek-side, tongue-side, and chewing surfaces.
  5. Brush the tongue to remove fungi, food and debris.

The Proper Way to Floss

The interdental regions (between the teeth) are difficult to reach with a toothbrush and should be cleaned with dental floss on a daily basis.  The flavor and type of floss are unimportant; choose floss that will be easy and pleasant to use.

Here is a basic guide to proper flossing:

  1. Cut a piece of floss to around 18 inches long.
  2. Wrap one end of the floss around the middle finger of the left hand and the other end around the middle finger of the right hand until the hands are 2-3 inches apart.
  3. Work the floss gently between the teeth toward the gum line.
  4. Curve the floss in a U-shape around each individual tooth and carefully slide it beneath the gum line.
  5. Carefully move the floss up and down several times to remove interdental plaque and debris.
  6. Do not snap the floss between the teeth as this may cut the gums.

If you have any questions about the correct way to brush or floss, please ask us.