Better brushing and flossing techniques

Brushing

Brushing our teeth is such an everyday occurrence that we do it almost without thinking. But brushing your teeth correctly can make a huge difference to the health of your teeth and gums and can help you keep them for life.

Tooth brushing should be done twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste. It is particularly important to clean teeth before bedtime. This is because our saliva helps to wash away bacteria, thus preventing decay. But at night-time our production of saliva slows down, which means bacteria can be left on your teeth, producing acid which eats away at them.

It is also important not to brush immediately after eating very sugary or acidic foods or drinks. Such foods or drinks weaken the enamel – the hard protective layer of your teeth - and if you brush them straight afterwards it can cause surface damage.

Try chewing sugar free gum for 20 minutes or so instead - it will boost saliva production, wash away harmful bacteria and neutralise the acid. Don’t chew for too long though as it could cause problems with your jaw joint.

Most people find an electric toothbrush more effective and easier to clean their teeth. If you prefer to use a manual brush, we usually recommend that adults choose one that is small to medium sized with soft to medium, round-ended bristles. Whether manual or electric the brush or brush head needs to be changed every three months or if showing signs of splaying or damage.

Brush for at least two minutes each time, making sure not to brush too hard as that too can cause damage to teeth and gums. Place your brush at an angle of around 45 degrees against the gums, and use small brush strokes. We can demonstrate the most effective method for you if you wish.

Adults should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste (children half this amount and those under three a smear). Remember to brush each surface of each tooth – the front, back, top and sides, reaching beyond the gumline. It is a good idea to brush your tongue too; the back of the tongue is home to a wide variety of bacteria, including the ones that cause bad breath.

After brushing spit out any excess toothpaste but don’t rinse your mouth with water.

Flossing

You know you should do it. You’ve got the stuff to do it with. But somehow you never quite get round to it. Well now it’s time you did floss, and here’s why. Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria, and if left on your teeth it can cause gum disease and tooth decay. It is also the reason why you may need to have your teeth scaled.

However well you brush, you are unlikely to remove all the plaque, especially from those tricky areas between teeth and under the gum line.

Most people only need to floss once a day. It is best to try and do this when you give your teeth the last brush of the day, before bedtime.

Flossing can require a bit of practice to get right. We have given you a few guidelines here, but will be happy to give you a demonstration next time we see you – just ask.

• Break off a piece of floss, about 45 cms (18 inches) long.

• Wrap the ends around the first fingers of each hand, leaving 2cms (3/4 inch) of floss in the middle.

• Hold it in place with your middle fingers or thumbs.

• Gently slide it between two teeth, and move it all the way down, curving it under one tooth when it reaches the gum line until it meets resistance. Move it up and down the tooth slowly 2-3 times, stroking the plaque away.

• Repeat on the other side of the gap and remove the floss.

For more information on oral healthcare or to book a dental check-up or a hygiene appointment, please contact Southview Dental Care on 01732 865021 – we’ll be happy to help.