Proper brushing and flossing help to prevent both cavities and gum disease by removing sticky plaque and bacteria, which produce acid from sugar that dissolves tooth enamel. Plaque and the acid it produces irritates the gums, causing inflammation and bleeding. This is gingivitis and is reversible with good oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease and tooth loss, as well as infections or pain.
Proper brushing is essential to remove food and plaque from the teeth and stimulate the gums. Drs. Granato and Crandall recommend that you brush for two minutes at least twice a day. Using fluoride toothpaste for anyone over the age of two is important to aid in remineralization of the enamel as it loses calcium and phosphorous daily. Fluoride is absorbed by the enamel and aids in preventing tooth decay and disease.
Flossing is equally as important, as it is the only way to clean the sides of the teeth and remove food and plaque between the teeth where cavities often start.
When to Brush and Floss
Drs. Granato and Crandall recommend brushing your teeth after meals, but no less than twice a day in the morning and at night. We recommend flossing at least once a day, preferably before bed. At night, the saliva production decreases, so brushing or flossing before bed reduces the chance of having plaque produce acid that causes gum irritation and cavities when the protection of saliva isn't present.
Manual vs. Electric: Which is better?
Whether you use an electric toothbrush or a traditional one is not as important as the technique used to brush your teeth effectively. Drs. Granato and Crandall do feel that the Sonicare® brushes for adults or children are the most effective brand of electric brushes on the market though. Oftentimes, if it's difficult to get children to brush, you can inspire enthusiasm with power toothbrushes. An electric toothbrush may also be best for someone who doesn't have adequate motor skills to perform proper techniques when brushing their teeth. Just remember—whatever type of brush is used, we recommend brushing for two full minutes at least twice daily.
In addition to maintaining great oral hygiene at home, don’t forget to visit our Manassas, VA dental office for twice-yearly professional cleanings and exams. Our dentists and team are here to make sure you live life with a smile!
- Brushing Instructions
Brushing: Step 1
Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum.
Brushing: Step 2
Brush gently in a circular motion.
Brushing: Step 3
Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
Brushing: Step 4
Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth.
- Flossing Instructions
Flossing: Step 1
Wind about 18 inches of floss around your fingers as shown. Most of it should be wrapped around one finger, and the other finger takes it up as the floss is used.
Flossing: Step 2
Use your thumbs and forefingers to guide about one inch of floss between your teeth.
Flossing: Step 3
Holding the floss tightly, gently saw it between your teeth. Then curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth and gently slide it beneath your gums.
Flossing: Step 4
Slide the floss up and down, repeating for each tooth.