Dental caries (cavities) created by tooth decay remain the number one chronic disease in both kids and adults in the United States. To illustrate this point, nearly 60% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 have at least one cavity, and a whopping 92% of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have dental caries.
More alarming is that much of this problem is preventable and starts with a good brushing and flossing routine at home.
While the dental team here at Peninsula Dental Excellence, including Drs. Jeff Yoshihara and Colin Au, can certainly do our part to help keep your teeth from decaying through our preventive dentistry services, it’s imperative that you do yours.
With that in mind, we’re presenting a refresher on the best ways to brush and floss your teeth at home.
Let’s start with brushing
At a minimum, we recommend you brush your teeth twice each day — once in the morning and once in the evening before you go to bed. You should use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush lightly — all too often, people think scrubbing is the better way to go, but this can wear down your protective enamel.
To ensure that you’re only cleaning your teeth and not stripping away enamel, think of brushing as more of a massage. A great tip is to hold your toothbrush with only two fingers, preventing you from applying too much force.
You should hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, especially around your gumline, where bacteria can make their way up under your gums.
When you brush your teeth, take your time to ensure that you tackle every last surface, which means the fronts, backs, and tops of all of your teeth. After you’re sure you’ve reached every possible surface, you can lightly brush your gums and tongue for added protection.
Last, you should replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
Now, the flossing
If you’ve done a good job with brushing, the surfaces of your teeth should be free of debris and plaque. Now it’s time to turn your attention to areas a toothbrush can’t reach — between your teeth. For this, you need to turn to flossing.
We recommend that you floss at least once a day, preferably at night after you’ve brushed your teeth. Measure 18 inches of floss out and secure it between your thumb and forefingers. Next, slide the floss in between your teeth and gently rub up and down each of the facing surfaces. After you’ve cleaned one area, slide the floss to a new piece and tackle the next space between your teeth.
Once you’ve flossed between all of your teeth (don’t forget a quick floss on the molars at the very back), discard the floss, and rinse your mouth to remove any debris loosened by flossing.
A quick word about rinsing
While we’d love to see you brush your teeth after each meal, rinsing is a great substitute. Every time you eat or drink something during the day, take a moment to quickly rinse your mouth with water.
If you have more questions about how to clean your teeth properly, please contact our office in Mountain View, California.