Flossing is an important part of an oral hygiene routine, but research suggests that fewer than half of Americans do so daily. Flossing is simple and only takes an extra couple of minutes per day. Developing a healthy habit of flossing can prevent tooth decay and gum disease, and it may allow you to keep more of your natural teeth as you age. So what is the most effective means of flossing?
Pull the floss taught and slide it between two teeth.
Pull against the side of one tooth, creating a “C-shape” and sliding upwards to remove plaque build-up.
Pull against the opposite tooth edge using the same technique.
Repeat this process for each tooth until all inner surfaces have been flossed.
Don’t forget to floss the backs of your molars!
Need some extra tips?
The American Dental Association recommends using a strand of floss approximately 18 inches in length. It is important to only use clean floss as you move between the teeth. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by looping each end of the floss around your fingers and beginning to floss with the area closest to one end. If you have never flossed, be sure to ask your dentist for a quick in-person tutorial at your next check-up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I be flossing?
Yes. The ADA recommends that everyone floss in order to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Even if you have restorations, such as crowns or veneers, good oral hygiene is essential for prolonging their use and maintaining your oral health.
What types of results should I get from flossing?
You may not experience immediate results from flossing, but over time, your habit will pay off. Flossing can prevent tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss – all of which can be highly inconvenient and expensive to treat. A piece of floss that costs just pennies could save you thousands of dollars later on.
Is there anything else I should be doing in addition to flossing?
Yes. In addition to flossing, you should be adopting proper brushing techniques and visiting your dentist at least twice per year for examinations and professional dental cleanings.
Preventative dentistry is about more than just visiting your dentist twice yearly for an exam and thorough cleaning. In fact, the majority of your preventative care is done at-home as a part of your normal hygienic routine. Many residents use manual toothbrushes to remove debris and plaque from their teeth. However, electric brushes have become widely popular in recent years, leaving some to wonder whether one type is better than the other.
Did you know...
the American Dental Association does not lean toward one type of brush over the other? It does, however, acknowledge that people with upper body mobility restrictions may better benefit from an electric toothbrush instead of a manual brush. Regardless of which type you decide is right for you, the ADA recommends that all brushes be soft-bristled so as to avoid abrasions that can lead to decay and receding gum lines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which toothbrush should I be using?
You can effectively brush your teeth with either a manual toothbrush or an electric one. However, the rapid movements of motorized versions may be more effective at removing plaque from the teeth and gum line. If you have questions about which toothbrush is best for you, speak with your dentist about it at your next visit. He or she may recommend an electric brush with an oscillating head or a brush that includes a timer to let you know how long to brush.
What types of results should I be getting from by toothbrush?
Regardless of whether you choose an electric brush or a manual brush, it should be easy for you to maneuver in your mouth and behind your back teeth. If the head is too big, it may not be effectively removing plaque from your teeth.
My electric toothbrush was expensive. Do I need to change it as often as a manual brush?
Yes. Your toothbrush should be replaced at least once every three to four months or whenever you notice fraying. However, most electric toothbrushes come with interchangeable heads. In other words, you won’t need to replace the entire device – only the brush itself.
Brushing your teeth is probably a standard part of your daily routine, but chances are you aren’t following the American Dental Association’s guidelines for cleaning your teeth properly. The ADA currently recommends that you brush your teeth at minimum of two times each day – preferably morning and night or anytime you eat foods that contain sugar. When you brush, your toothbrush should be tilted at a 45 degree angle to your gum line. As you brush, be sure to remove debris from every surface of the teeth – including the backs of the teeth, near the gum line, and on chewing surfaces. It is also important to brush your tongue, as bacteria can accumulate there and cause malodorous breath.
Did you know…
that the type of toothbrush you use makes a difference in your oral health? The ADA recommends using a soft-bristled toothbrush with a head that is ergonomically proportioned to the inside of your mouth. Many patients erroneously believe that medium or hard-bristle toothbrushes are more efficient; but these brushes can actually cause abrasions to the teeth and gums, making them more vulnerable to decay. The ADA also recommends replacing your toothbrush about four times yearly or whenever the bristles become frayed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I change my brushing habits?
You may need to change your brushing habits if you are experiencing signs of poor oral hygiene. Examples of common symptoms include bleeding or reddened gums, excessive plaque build-up, decaying teeth and receding gum lines. To find out if you are brushing correctly or if you need to change your brushing habits, make an appointment with your dentist for a full consultation.
What should I expect if I begin brushing my teeth correct?
The benefits of proper tooth brushing techniques may not be experienced immediately, but they are noticeable long-term. Over time, brushing too hard or not brushing enough can produce oral health complications that cannot be reversed and require special treatment. By adopting proper brushing habits, you could avoid expensive dental bills in the future.
Is there anything else I need to do in addition to brushing properly?
Yes. It is important that you also floss daily and use toothpaste that contains fluoride each day. You should also schedule dental exams and professional cleanings in at least twice per year.