mother and daughter brushing teeth

Better Oral Health: How to Brush Your Teeth and Other Important Tips


How to Brush Your Teeth: 12 Steps

The brushing process should take at least two minutes. Your brushing is completed when you have brushed all the surfaces of your teeth and not when your mouth is full! Here are 12 steps to how to brush your teeth the right way.

1: Choose a soft toothbrush.

You always want to use a soft brush with a small head. A soft brush is hard enough to remove plaque and soft enough not to damage your teeth or gum.

2. Choose a good toothpaste.

In general, any Fluoride toothpaste will do the job, unless you have a special need that is determined by your dentist. Two of the best brands of toothpastes are Colgate Total and Crest Multicare.

3. Use a pea size of toothpaste on a wet toothbrush.

4. Choose a starting point.

To get your whole mouth, start from a specific location and work your way to the opposite side and all the way through the whole mouth so that you end where you started. This way you won’t miss any area.

5. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and gums.

6. Go in a tight, circular motion (not up and down).

7. Be gentle at the gumline.

Gently press so the tips of the bristles in between the gum and the teeth.

8. Use short strokes on chewing surfaces.

Small strokes will get the plaque out of the grooves and pits.

9. Roll down the brush to sweep plaque away.

10. Repeat this brushing 6 to 10 times before moving on.

11. For teeth backs, hold brush vertically up or down.

This will allow you to reach the teeth backs and gums better.

12. Brush Your Tongue.

Last but not least, brush your tongue lightly.

How to Floss Your Teeth for Better Oral Health

The surfaces that are between teeth are not accessible to brush; Therefore, the best way to clean them is with flossing. The frequency of flossing is like brushing and ideally after each meal, though one time a day (before going to bed) is the minimum necessary.

floss1. To start, cut a piece of dental floss (approximately 2 feet).

2. Wrap both sides of the floss around your middle fingers.

3. Using your index and thumb move the floss in between all your teeth one by one.

4.  The goal is to clean the teeth surfaces and not the gum. When flossing, make sure you are not cutting your gum.

5. In the spaces between teeth, press the floss against each tooth (hug the tooth) and gently move it back and forth and up and down. Then move to the opposite surface of the adjacent tooth.

6. Continue until you have flossed between each tooth.

7. Rinse your mouth and then brush your teeth.

Oral Health and Your Diet

Cutting down your sugar intake is good for cavity prevention as well as general health. Sugar is the main cause of dental decay because it causes bacteria to be present.  You need to watch both the amount of sugar and the frequency of eating or drinking sugary foods.

Probably the worst thing you can do to your teeth is to hold a soda and have a sip every few minutes during a long period of time; the same is true for snacking. Eating or drinking something sweet during a long period of time creates a constant supply of sugar for bacteria that cause tooth decay!

It is important to know all the sources of sugar. It is not just everything that is sweet. Breads, potatoes, and starches can turn to sugar.

When you do have sugary foods or drinks, plan to brush your teeth within 15 minutes. At 30 minutes, sugar has already begun to form plaque on your teeth.  If you can’t brush, rinsing your mouth with Fluoride mouth wash or chewing sugarless gum can help. But nothing has the effect of avoiding sugar!

Another group of food that causes significant damage to teeth structure is acidic foods. Things like lime, lemon and grapefruit, if in frequent contact with teeth, can cause serious irreversible damage (erosion) to your teeth.

Is there any kind of food that prevents tooth decay?  Basically foods fall into three categories.  Okay, bad and worse!  The only surefire thing that doesn’t cause cavities and can actually reduce the chances of them is water.  So drink plenty of it!

Fluoride and Cavity Prevention

Many years ago scientists started to notice that children who were born and raised in areas with natural fluoride in drinking water had less cavities than children in other areas.

Fluoride that is absorbed by your body when teeth were forming (during mother s pregnancy to early childhood) integrates into the structure of enamel and makes it stronger. Fluoride, which added a very low concentration to drinking water, helps reduce the chance of cavities for everyone who drinks it.  Fluoride toothpaste greatly reduces the risk of cavities.

If you have children and live in an area that has no Fluoride in its drinking water you should consult your dentist and physician about Fluoride tablets that are available for children.

Bad Breath

A Phoenix dentist can help you with bad breath problems. Here are some of the ways that bad breath develops in your mouth:

  • Tongue (when bacteria grows in between the papilla)
  • Teeth cavities (especially when food particles get stuck in them)
  • Gum diseases
  • Extraction sites during healing
  • Dentures when not cleaned properly
  • Alcohol and tobacco

If you or someone you know is concerned about bad breath, the first step is a dental check up. Your dentist will be able to confirm or rule out teeth or mouth as the source of bad breath. There are non-dental reasons that cause bad breath: sore throat, tonsillitis, sinus problems, and infection of nasal passages. Alcoholism, drug use and tobacco use contribute to bad breath.

For teeth-related issues, your dentist can help you combat bad breath causes.  If you use mouthwash for bad breath, keep in mind that most mouthwashes contain alcohol and that is actually not good for your breath in the long run.

Electric Brush Versus Manual Brushes

There have been multiple studies comparing the effectiveness of manual brushes as opposed to electric brushes.

Although not all the electric brushes are the same, these studies indicate that, in general, electric brushes are more effective in controlling plaque. Theoretically you could do a very good brushing with a regular hand brush, but the movements of an electric brush make the task easier and more efficient. Also, some electric brushes  have sonic vibration that is difficult to mimic with a hand brush. Other electric brushes have small heads that help you reach hard to reach areas of your mouth. This aspect is more important when you are talking about somebody with orthodontic braces or a history of gum disease.

Following a good hygiene routine and getting regular check ups with your dentist will help your teeth last a lifetime!  Make an appointment now.

Other Oral Health Resources

CDC Oral Health Center
American Dental Association
NIDCR (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research)