A step-by-step guide to proper brushing and flossing your teeth (and why it matters!)

Dental Oasis of Orange County is your refuge for trusted guidance. Oral health requires regular visits to our office in Huntington Beach, California, and consistent, thorough home care. The 6-month check-up is an opportunity to provide tailored suggestions on techniques and products to step up your oral hygiene game at home. 

Fundamental to home care are the right toothbrush, floss products, and proper technique. It is not sufficient to simply brush and floss each day. You must clean your teeth, gums, and other areas of your mouth properly. So, how should you brush and floss? Again, our recommendations are always personalized to your needs and situation. But there are some general truths here that would apply to all patients, regardless of their specific circumstances and characteristics. 

Brush up on your technique

Every 24 to 48 hours, plaque builds up on the teeth. This destructive bacterial film erodes the teeth and triggers toxins that break down the gums and supportive bone. Once plaque build-up hardens to form tartar or calculus, it can only be removed by specially-trained and specially-equipped dental professionals, like our hygienists. 

Brushing consistently and correctly is essential. A few pointers: 

  • Use an appropriately-sized toothbrush with soft bristles
  • You may select an electric brush with an oscillating or rotating head 
  • Be sure your brushes don’t get worn. Chuck the brush after three months or earlier if the bristles are fraying
  • If you have an electric brush, replace the head on the same schedule (no later than three months)
  • Brush at least twice each day, for at least two minutes each time
  • Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle
  • Go over your gumline and teeth gently in small circular motions 
  • Go over every surface, including the inside of each of the front teeth and the sides of each tooth
  • Do not forget the back teeth! Patients tend to focus more on the front teeth because they are so visible in the smile
  • Take special consideration of the chewing surfaces of the pre-molars and molars. Around eight of every 10 cavities form in these back teeth
  • The tongue harbors bacteria, too! So, be sure it is not neglected when brushing

Be a “boss” with floss

Teeth are not one-dimensional. Even the most diligent and consistent brushing removes only about two-thirds of the bacteria, food debris, and plaque that forms on the teeth and other tissues. By flossing, you are “capturing” what gets left behind to minimize your risk of developing decay and gum disease. When you floss next, consider: 

  • Your product. Is it working for you? If you notice that floss gets trapped in between spaces, you may need a waxed “pro” floss to slip effortlessly between teeth
  • Our team is also happy to recommend products like super-floss or disposable floss brushes and picks. These options are ideal if you have tight spaces caused by dental bridges, wear spaces, or have children and other family members with challenges to effectively cleaning their teeth
  • Use at least 18 inches of floss each time. Otherwise, you may mistakenly re-use the same portion of the floss and relocate bacteria and other “nasties” from one part of the mouth to another
  • Use a gentle touch when flossing in a “U”-shape around the teeth and when sliding it under the gumline
  • Take your time. Move the floss up and down several times to adequately remove food particles

For more tailored tips, schedule an appointment at the Dental Oasis of Orange County, Huntington Beach, CA office today at (714) 312-7714.