How to Properly Brush & Floss

Brushing and flossing are of paramount importance to good oral hygiene.  Professional dental cleanings remove plaque, tartar, and debris.  Excellent home care, including brushing and flossing, is extremely valuable in maintaining the results of a professional cleaning and in the prevention of serious diseases.

Reasons why proper brushing and flossing are essential:

  • Prevention of tooth decay – Tooth decay occurs when the acids found in plaque erode the natural enamel found on the teeth.  This phenomenon can easily be prevented by using proper home hygiene methods.
  • Prevention of periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is caused by toxins found in plaque.  Removing plaque from tooth surfaces with a toothbrush and floss helps minimize exposure to these toxins.  Periodontal disease is a serious, progressive condition which can cause tooth and bone loss, gum recession and health problems in other parts of the body.
  • Prevention of halitosis – Bad breath or halitosis is usually caused by old food particles on or between the teeth.  These food particles can be removed with regular brushing and flossing, leaving the mouth healthier, and breath smelling fresher.
  • Prevention of staining – Staining or yellowing of teeth can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as smoking and coffee or tea drinking.  The more regularly these staining agents are removed from the teeth by brushing and flossing, the less likely the stains will become permanent.

The Proper Way to Brush

Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, ideally in the morning and before bedtime.  Your toothbrush should be small in size to allow access to all areas of the mouth.  The bristles should be soft texture so as to be gentle to the gum tissues.  The toothbrush should be replaced every three months or less.  The American Dental Association (ADA) has given electric toothbrushes their seal of approval, stating that those with rotating or oscillating heads are more effective than other toothbrushes. 

Here is a basic guide to proper brushing:

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where the gums and teeth meet.
  2. Use small circular motions to gently brush the gumline and teeth. 
  3. Do not scrub or apply too much pressure to the teeth to avoid damage to the gums and tooth enamel.
  4. Brush all surfaces of every tooth, including cheek, tongue, and chewing sides.  Place special emphasis on all of the surfaces of the back teeth.
  5. Use back and forth strokes to brush the chewing surfaces.
  6. Brush the tongue to remove bacteria, food, and debris. 

The Proper Way to Floss

Flossing is a great way to remove plaque, prevent periodontal disease and limit the depth of gum pockets.  The spaces between the teeth are  difficult to reach with a toothbrush and should be cleansed with dental floss on a daily basis.  Choose the flavor and type of floss your prefer to make it easy and pleasant to use.

Here is a basic guide to proper flossing:

  1. Cut a piece of floss to around 18 inches long.
  2. Wrap one end of the floss around the middle finger of the left hand and the other end around the middle finger of the right hand until the hands are 2-3 inches apart.
  3. Work the floss gently between the teeth toward the gum line.
  4. Curve the floss in a U-shape around each individual tooth and carefully slide it beneath the gum line.
  5. Carefully move the floss up and down several times to remove interdental plaque and debris.
  6. Avoid snapping the floss in and out between the teeth as this will inflame and cut the gums.


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