Oral Hygiene

How to Brush Your Teeth

smiling woman holding toothbrush

Begin by applying a pea-size amount of non-abrasive, non-whitening toothpaste to your brush.  While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45-degree angle at the spot where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes. When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.

To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.

Next you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth. To do this, use short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.

In general mechanical (electric) toothbrushes clean faster than manual brushes but they work best with non-abrasive (non-whitening) toothpaste. These brushes should be used with gentle pressure on your gum tissue.

If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office at Dallas Office Phone Number 214-691-2404.

How to Floss

Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove the bacterial plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but it takes time and practice.

Start with a piece of floss about 18″ long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand.

To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using an up and down motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to place. Bring the floss to the gum line then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.

To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefinger of both hands. Do not forget the back side of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.

When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove loosened plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.

Caring For Sensitive Teeth

Many people have teeth that are sensitive to cold. If your teeth are especially sensitive, this is often due to clenching or grinding your teeth, please contact our office for a consultation. A medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth may be recommended. In some cases protecting your teeth with a night guard will be recommended to stabilize teeth and reduce sensitivity.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

There are so many products on the market that choosing the right one can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for selecting dental care products that will work for most patients:

  • Electric toothbrushes (e.g. Sonicare, Oral-B) are safe and effective for the majority of users. Oral irrigators (e.g. Waterpik) will help rinse your mouth, but will not remove plaque. You need to brush and floss then flush out the loose debris with the irrigator.
  • For patients with slightly larger spaces between their teeth, Interproximal bushes (a.k.a. interdental brushes) are an excellent tool for removing plaque and debris between the teeth. These are especially helpful between back teeth where gum recession has occurred. 
  • If used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses can reduce tooth decay. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age.
  • Tartar control toothpastes have not been proven to reduce the early stage of gum disease.
  • Over the counter mouth rinses are not effective for removing plaque. They should be used sparingly. These with no alcohol are suggested if you choose to use the products.