Brushing & Flossing

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DannyA survey performed by the American Dental Association in summer 2012 revealed that only 10% of Americans know how often to brush their teeth, and only 6% know when children should be able to brush their teeth.

The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day. One of those times should be before bed – the flow of acid-neutralizing saliva is reduced during sleep, so it's important to remove any plaque or food particles that might harbor the bacteria that produce acids.

When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.

For areas between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day.

Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.

Many patients, especially orthodontic patients, are finding success in floss aids or floss threaders.

Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.

Brushing for Children

Starting at birth, clean your child's gums with a soft infant toothbrush or soft cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush.

Use a 'smear' of fluoridated toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 3 years of age. For children 3 years and older, use a 'pea-size' amount of fluoride toothpaste. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their own teeth effectively and thus need the assistance of an adult. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.

In this pediatric tutorial, Dr. Anne Hertzberg explains how to brush your infant's or young child's teeth in order to establish a lasting oral health routine.

In this pediatric tutorial, Dr. Amy Regen explains how (and when and why) to floss your child's teeth.

Check out our Educational Videos for further helpful information about caring for your teeth and your children's teeth.