Everybody brushes, but did you know there's a trick to it? To help you get the most out of your routine, here are a few important tips:
- Always use a toothpaste that is recommended by the American Dental Association. It will say so on the box or tube. This lets you know that the toothpaste has enough fluoride and will not be too abrasive for your teeth.
- Always use a toothbrush with soft bristles. A medium- or hard-bristle toothbrush can injure your gums and cause them to recede.
- Begin by placing the bristles towards your gums at a 45 degree angle (pointing up for the top teeth and pointing down for the bottom teeth.)
- Move the brush in a circular motion to loosen the plaque at the gum line.
- Then roll the brush in the direction your teeth grow (or the “pointing” of the gums): roll up for the bottom teeth, roll down for the top teeth.
- Remember to brush all the surfaces of your teeth: the sides facing your lip, cheek, and tongue, and the chewing surface.
- Finally, brush your tongue. Swish and rinse with water.
It should take you two minutes to properly brush your teeth. You should also floss your teeth daily. Flossing removes the plaque from in between your teeth and gums where your toothbrush cannot reach. Studies have shown flossing daily helps keep your whole body healthy. Here are some tips to help make flossing easier:
- There are lots of different types of flosses at the store. Pick a type of floss that works best for your teeth. If you have tight contacts (your teeth are very close to one another) or your teeth are crowded, use a Glide brand or a waxed floss (they are thinner). If you don’t have tight contacts, a woven floss works best.
- Take about 18 inches of floss and wrap most of it around one of your index or middle fingers. Wrap the rest of the floss around the index or middle finger of your other hand.
- Take a small section of floss (about an inch or so) and move it back and forth between your two teeth until it goes through the contact area (the place between your teeth).
- Once the floss is between your teeth, curve the floss like the letter ‘C’ around the side of one of the teeth. Then move the floss up and down the side of the tooth to wipe it clean. Make sure to go under the gum line!
- Curve the floss towards the other tooth and repeat.
- Then roll the used section of floss onto your finger with the least amount of floss on it, and go in between the next two teeth with the new section of clean floss.
- It doesn’t matter which tooth you begin with. Just don’t forget to floss any of them! It might be easier to go in a pattern around your mouth, for example start in the upper right, go around the top, down to the bottom left and around the bottom to the right.
- The back teeth can be tricky to floss. Here's a little trick: Put the floss on your fingertips. When working on the right side, put your right index finger on your cheek to push it away from your gums. When you get to the left side, do the same with your left index finger. Also, don’t open your mouth too wide. If you only open halfway it makes it easier to pull your cheek back.
- If you get to the end of your floss but you haven’t hit all your teeth, throw the floss away and get a fresh piece. Don’t use old floss to clean new teeth!
- If you have dexterity issues that make flossing difficult, there are a couple products that could help you. You can use flossers, soft picks, and proxy brushes; just remember: wipe them off between each tooth you do. Otherwise you’re taking the plaque off one tooth and just putting it on another.