Brushing & Flossing Tips & Tricks
Everybody knows you’re supposed to brush and floss your teeth. But do you know how you’re supposed to brush and floss? Let’s find out.
Choosing a Toothbrush and Toothpaste
There are many types of toothbrushes nowadays. There are soft, medium, and coarse-bristled toothbrushes. Perhaps you think that choosing one is just a matter of personal preference as to what feels best to you.
So you might be surprised to learn that, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), there is a “right” answer to the toothbrush question. It’s soft-bristled all the way. The ADA recommends soft and only soft-bristled toothbrushes to gently remove the tiny bits of food that can get stuck on your teeth. In fact, medium and especially coarse-bristled toothbrushes are harsh enough to damage your gums.
What about toothpaste? You might be surprised here too. Toothpaste really doesn’t remove particles or polish your teeth any more effectively than proper brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water alone does.
That’s not to say that toothpaste is of no value. A toothpaste with fluoride can aid in preventing tooth decay. If you choose a toothpaste with a whitening agent, you may see some modest cosmetic improvement in the appearance of your teeth. If you choose a flavored toothpaste, like mint, you might be left with a taste in your mouth that you find pleasant, and it may improve your breath.
But really what matters is that you brush your teeth and how you brush your teeth, not what—if anything—you put on your toothbrush.
So What Is the Proper Brushing Technique?
Vigorously brush the entire surface of each of your teeth. Don’t focus only on the surfaces of the teeth that are most visible. You need to get all your teeth, and to reach in and brush the back of them as well. Besides its dental health benefits, this is helpful cosmetically as well, since teeth are partly translucent, and stains or discoloration on the back of a tooth can show through the front to some extent.
You should brush your teeth for two minutes. One thing you can do is divide the task into four parts—the left half of your upper teeth, the right half of your upper teeth, the left half of your bottom teeth, and the right half of your bottom teeth—and brush each of those four sections for 30 seconds.
What About Flossing?
Take about 18 inches of floss, and wrap the ends around your middle fingers. Rub the floss gently between your teeth, working your way around your mouth, top and bottom.
How Often to Brush and Floss
At the very minimum, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day—in the morning and at night—and floss your teeth at least once a day.
However, you may want to brush and floss more often if either you are prone to get cavities more than the average person, or you have just eaten the kinds of foods that are most apt to stick to your teeth or get stuck between your teeth. That would be foods like:
- Candy, especially sticky candy like taffy or caramel
- Corn on the cob
- Steak or ribs
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that if you’ve just eaten or drunk something highly acidic—like citrus fruit or soft drinks—you should wait 30 minutes before brushing, as acidic foods can temporarily weaken tooth enamel, and brushing may wear away some of the weakened enamel.
If you have any remaining questions about brushing and flossing your teeth, be sure to speak with your Indianapolis, IN dentist.