A guide to good home care and how to brush and floss properly
Congratulations! You know the importance of brushing and flossing, and you do so every day without fail or hesitation. But how you use standard oral hygiene tools such as floss matters. At the practice of Dr. Meredith Levine in Century City, CA, we encourage you to think in terms of both consistency and technique. We have provided a few “pointers” to help bring your home care to new peaks, for the lasting health and beauty of your smile and overall well being.
How to brush properly
It is important to not only brush often, but to brush diligently. First, we recommend that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush. The brush should be properly sized for your mouth to easily reach back teeth. So, adults with small mouths may benefit from a children’s-sized brush. We are also big proponents of electric toothbrushes. They use oscillation to clean more plaque from each tooth and oral tissues, faster. Many people like how these brushes feel, and how easy they are to use. We also recommend the use of a fluoride toothpaste, as this naturally occurring mineral is a proven decay-fighter that builds up your tooth’s natural armor and promotes remineralization of weak teeth.
Since plaque is always building up on the teeth, it is important to brush at least two times each day. It is best to brush after each meal. If you are sipping sugary drinks, rinse your mouth with water frequently. So, sugars do not have an opportunity to stick. And brush as soon as you can.
Do not cut corners when you brush; if you must, set a timer for two minutes. You may find yourself slowing down and using greater care to ensure that each side of the tooth is brushed. Also, it is important to brush the teeth as well as the gums, roof of the mouth, and the tongue. These areas harbor harmful bacteria, and deserve TLC, too! Replace your brush every three to four months, or if it looks frayed. Fast fraying may be a sign that you are brushing too hard. Aggressive brushing can damage tissues. Think: Thorough cleaning with a gentle touch.
How to floss properly
Flossing “catches” the food debris and bacteria that brushing cannot; be sure to floss at least daily. Use at least 12 to 18 inches of floss every time you clean your teeth. That way, you are not accidentally removing food debris and “relocating” them to another part of your mouth. Be sure to use a clean section each time you reinsert the floss. There is no need to snap or pop the thread. Gently rub the floss up and down against the sides of your teeth to avoid potentially cutting the attachments between the gums and tooth or triggering sensitivity. As with brushing, if you have all 28 of your teeth (minus wisdom teeth), floss for at least two minutes each time. In other words, you should spend a couple of seconds on every side of the tooth to ensure all surfaces are clean. We can also recommend products that get between tight spaces, and are otherwise tailored to your needs, for instance:
- Waxed floss
- Super floss
- Dental tape
- Disposable flossers, picks, interdental brushes
How to clean right with braces
It can be tough to clean effectively with brackets and wires. An inter proximal brush may be recommended to remove food that gets stuck around brackets or between wires. A floss threader can also reach those difficult spaces between arch wires and teeth. Orthodontic wax is in most braces-wearers’ “toolkits” to prevent and relieve sore spots. And, chewing on hard or sticky foods and objects is a big “no.” Many of our patients appreciate orthodontic treatment alternatives to braces, which use removable aligners to reposition teeth. You can take out the aligner every time you eat, brush, and floss!
Our patients are one of a kind and deserve (and need) one-of-a-kind recommendations. Call the office at (424) 358-3811 to request an appointment at our facility, conveniently located at 2080 Century Park East.