Brushing Up on Oral Health care
In addition to visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, it's important to maintain good oral health care at home.
How often should I brush my teeth, and for how long?
In order to effectively remove cavity-causing bacteria, you should brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. Many electric toothbrushes now include built-in timers, but if you are using a manual toothbrush, consider keeping a kitchen timer in your bathroom to make sure you're brushing long enough. Also, it's important that parents and caregivers monitor children while they brush to ensure they are brushing for two minutes twice a day and using the proper technique.
What brushing technique should I use?
Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and brush in a circular motion, pressing just firm enough to reach between the teeth. Brushing too hard or using a sawing-motion can cause your gums to recede or damage the teeth. Start brushing along the gumline and work your way down to the teeth. Make sure to brush the outside and inside of your teeth, the chewing surfaces, and between your teeth.
What kind of toothbrush should I use?
Always make sure to use a soft-bristled brush, because hard bristles can damage your teeth and gums. The heads of the toothbrush should be small enough to reach all areas if your mouth. When in doubt, get the smallest toothbrush possible.
How often should I replace my toothbrush?
Old toothbrushes with worn and frayed bristles are ineffective and may harbor harmful bacteria. Make sure to change your toothbrush or brush head every three months and after every illness.
What kind of toothpaste should I use?
Make sure to use toothpaste containing fluoride, which fights plaque and cavities. Also, having the seal of approval from the American Dental Association means its safety and effectiveness have been tested.
How much toothpaste should I use?
To clean your teeth effectively, you only need to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. If you use the correct technique, this should be enough toothpaste to cover all your teeth.
Is flossing as important as brushing?
Yes! Flossing removes plaque and debris between your teeth, polishes the surfaces of the tooth, helps control bad breath, and reduces your risk of gum disease. Aim for flossing once a day or at least three times a week. Make sure to use a gentle up and down motion and get below the gumline.