Tooth Brushing and Flossing Techniques

Dr. James Frizzell pic

Dr. James Frizzell

James Frizzell, DDS, has led an independent dental practice in Niagara Falls, Ontario, since 1993. In that time, James Frizzell, DDS, of Niagara Falls has impressed on his patients the importance of learning effective brushing techniques.

To achieve optimal oral health, you must brush not only regularly but also correctly. Dentists recommend the use of a soft-bristled brush that allows you to easily reach all areas of your mouth, including the back teeth. The brush should be no older than three to four months, although more frequent replacement may be necessary if the bristles become worn.

The brush should be held at a 45-degree angle to the gum line and should address all surfaces of the teeth, including the back and any chewing surfaces. A gentle back-and-forth motion on the outsides and tops of the teeth is the proper technique to use. For the interior of a front tooth, up-and-down strokes tend to be more effective.

Unfortunately, even the best brushing techniques can only access up to 66 percent of the tooth surface. Flossing is necessary to clean the spaces between teeth, where plaque develops and quickly hardens into tartar. To remove this plaque, as well as food particles, you must take a small length of clean floss and slide it between two teeth, then wrap it around the base of each adjacent tooth.

Like brushing, flossing must address each tooth and must involve a clean instrument. Before moving on to the next tooth, you must take up a clean section of floss. Proper technique may take more time, but it is essential to the goal of maintaining a healthy mouth.

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