Oral hygiene is more than just a pretty smile. How healthy your mouth is determines how healthy the rest of your body is too. Subpar oral care increases the risk of problems like cavities and gum disease but also puts you at risk for stroke, heart attack, and sepsis.
Even if you brush twice a day, floss daily, and see your dentist twice a year, if your technique is off or your tools are inadequate, you might not be making as profound a difference as you think.
Our expert dentists, Joshua Whitford, DDS, and Jessica Whitford, DDS, want you to avoid cavities and fillings and achieve optimal oral health. That’s why our friendly staff at Silver Lake Dentistry in Raymore, Missouri, put together the following guide to brushing and flossing.
Are you making these common mistakes? Read on to find out.
Are you brushing wrong?
You probably know that brushing your teeth at least twice each day is the basis of good dental hygiene. However, you could be making key brushing mistakes that sabotage your goals.
Brushing too hard
Over-vigorous brushing damages the dental enamel that protects your teeth. It may also irritate or erode your gums. Instead of scrubbing or sawing at your teeth, use gentle, circular, sweeping motions with the head of your toothbrush. You should also use a soft-bristled brush.
You can’t just brush the surface of your molars and the fronts of your teeth. If you miss spots, it can lead to tooth decay and even gum disease. Be sure to brush the cutting surfaces, fronts, and backs of your teeth. And don’t forget the back of the back molars.
You should spend two minutes brushing your teeth. Devote 30 seconds to thoroughly brushing each quadrant of your mouth. Begin by cleaning the outer surfaces of your teeth, one at a time.
Gently brush your gum line above your teeth at a 45-degree angle to remove debris. Then it's time to work on the insides of your teeth. Finally, clean all of your chewing and biting surfaces.
Using an old toothbrush
Toothbrush heads should be replaced every 90 days. Worn-out brushes can’t clean your teeth effectively.
Are you flossing wrong?
Flossing is a key step to oral health because it removes food particles and bacteria from the small spaces between your teeth. It’s also important for gum health. Do you make the following flossing errors?
The most common and worst flossing error is not flossing enough (or not at all). Many men, women, and kids admit they don’t floss on a daily basis. However, improving your flossing habits greatly enhances your long-term dental and overall health. Aim to floss at least once a day.
Flossing after brushing
Contrary to what you may have been taught, flossing should be the first step in your daily dental care routine. Research shows that flossing before brushing prevents the spread of harmful bacteria in your mouth after you've cleaned your teeth.
Also, flossing after brushing removes fluoride from your teeth that you need to protect your enamel.
Using poor technique
Do you know how to floss properly? First, hold a portion of an 18-inch piece of floss between your thumbs and middle fingers with both hands. Create a C shape with the floss around each of your teeth. Gently slide the floss up and down to sweep the region between your teeth.
Be sure to go under the gum line to remove food particles and stimulate gum growth. Also, shift the floss to a clean portion as you make your way around your mouth.
Consult the experts
Even the most thorough brushing and flossing routine can’t give you the deep cleaning you get at your twice-annual dental exam. We also check your teeth, gums, and soft tissues for signs of disease or other conditions that need attending.
Ensure optimal oral health by contacting us today for a biannual exam or if you have any further questions on brushing and flossing.