Oral Hygiene 101

Brushing and flossing on a daily basis is imperative for ideal oral health. When you do so, be sure to use proper technique. Proper dental hygiene will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a head that is small enough to reach all areas of your mouth. You may also select an electronic toothbrush that has the ADA seal of approval. Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three to four months. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride for extra protection against tooth decay. Brush using a 45-degree angle where the teeth meet the gums. Press firmly, brushing with small circular movements. Be sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth, paying special attention to the front and back teeth. Brush your tongue from back to front to help prevent bad breath.

Floss at least once daily. Choose whatever type and flavor of floss you like. Use any of the following methods to floss your teeth:

• Finger-Wrap Method: Cut off an 18 inch piece of floss. Wrap the ends around your middle fingers until your hands are two to three inches apart.
• Circle Method: Cut a 12 inch piece of floss and tie the ends together to form a loop.
• Plastic Flossing Tool: Plastic flossing tools can make things easier. They can be purchased at most drug stores.

Gently work the floss between your teeth and curve your floss around each tooth in a C-shape. Gently slide the floss under the gum line and move the floss up and down several times to scrape off plaque. If flossing causes the gums to bleed, this should stop as your gums become healthier.

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