Brushing and Flossing
Brushing your teeth helps remove the plaque that rots your teeth and causes gum disease.
What you should know:
- You should brush your teeth after every meal, or at least in the morning and before bedtime. If you don't brush after lunch, rinse your mouth with water.
- Use a soft toothbrush that is small enough to reach your back teeth. Replace your toothbrush as the bristles wear down, at least every three months.
- A toothpaste with fluoride helps prevent cavities.
- Parents should help a child brush until about age six. A baby's teeth can be cleaned with a piece of cotton gauze and water or with a clean washcloth.
How to brush:
- Hold the toothbrush at an angle with the gum line (where the teeth meet the gums).
- Move the brush in small circles over the front and back of each tooth.
- Move the brush back and forth to scrub the tops of all the teeth.
- Brush the back side of the front teeth using the end of the brush. Use an up and down motion.
- Brush your tongue to remove some of the germs.
Dental floss can get between your teeth and under your gums to clean where your toothbrush can't reach.
What you should know:
- When you first start flossing, expect there to be some bleeding from your gums.
- This bleeding usually doesn't need treatment. As you floss every day, your gums will become healthy and will bleed less.
- It does not matter if the floss is "waxed" or "unwaxed". People just beginning to floss will probably find the waxed floss more comfortable.
- If you have problems with the floss breaking or shredding, change brands and try a waxed floss. Some of the "store brand" flosses are stronger than the "name brand" ones.
- If it is hard to move your finger or elbow to floss, talk to your dentist. She or he can give you a tool to help you floss.
- Flossing your teeth every day is as important as brushing them. Parents will need to help children under nine years old.
How to floss:
- Cut off about 18 inches of floss from the dispenser.
- Wrap most of it around the end of one of your middle fingers.
- Wrap what is left around the end of your other middle finger. As you floss, you can wind the used floss around this finger.
- Using the thumb and forefinger (pointer) of each hand to hold the floss, guide an inch of floss between two teeth.
- Gently move the floss back and forth in a sawing motion between the two teeth until the floss reaches the gum line. Don't snap the floss down into the gums.
- Curve the floss against one tooth and scrape the side of the tooth up and down.
- Curve the floss around the other tooth and repeat.
- Remove the floss. Follow this technique between the next two teeth with a clean section of floss. Be sure to floss behind the back teeth.