How to Brush and Floss Properly

 In oral health

Brushing and flossing teeth may seem like one of the least glamorous duties we have to perform. The fact that we need to do it twice a day, every day of our lives, can also bring up the rebel in us, causing some of us to think it won’t matter if we skip a day here and there, and to promise ourselves we’ll make up for it the next morning, when we are just too tired to stay out of bed for another two or three minutes. And that is all it takes – two or three minutes to do something that can save your teeth, your oral health and maybe even your life.

Taking a few minutes out of our day to brush and floss our teeth, has to be one of the best investments we can make in terms of time and energy. And we just need to think of the consequences of bad oral hygiene (like losing teeth, gum disease and general health problems) to realise that it’s worth doing it properly.

Be Gentle but Thorough

Brushing and flossing has to be handled gently, but thoroughly. Rushing at the job and attacking the teeth with hard bristles and a heavy hand, or taking a sawing motion when sliding floss between the teeth, can do more harm than good. Harsh flossing can bruise or cut the gums and cause them to recede and develop pockets between the gums and the base of the teeth, where bacteria can collect and serious damage can begin. Attacking rather than brushing your teeth can end up damaging the precious enamel that protects your teeth.

Brush your teeth for two minutes every morning and evening. Then, when you have finished the night time brushing process, use floss to clean the hard to reach places the toothbrush can’t reach between and behind the teeth.

Pick the Right Tools


For brushing: Your toothbrush works hard. Retire it every three months or so, and treat yourself to another that will take over the job with gusto. Pick a toothbrush with soft bristles and a brush end that is small enough to reach into the most difficult areas of the mouth. Electric toothbrushes are also available for those who find them easier to use.

For flossing: There are a number of different flossing options available, including the basic multiple strands of nylon wound round each other, which can be either waxed or unwaxed, and the monofilament one which slides more easily between the teeth. Then there are hand-held flossers, some that have a bow at the end with floss attached, and electric ones which move the floss back and forth.

Take the Right Approach

Brushing your teeth: Holding your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the gum line, begin with circular motions at the base of the teeth. Then work the brush gently up and down on your teeth. Work systematically from one side of the mouth to the other on both the top and bottom sets, dealing with the back and front of the teeth in separate processes. Leave the top of the teeth for last.

Flossing: If you are using traditional floss, the standard approach is to use the finger-wrap method. You want to aim at using a new clean piece of floss for cleaning every time you move from tooth to tooth, so you will need to break off a piece about 19 inches long. Turn the middle finger of your left hand into a holding spool by winding the majority of that piece of floss round it. Leave enough loose to wind the free end around your middle finger on your right hand and keep a piece between the two fingers long enough to use as your flossing tool. About two inches should do the trick.

Using a similar 45% angle to the one you use to brush, guide the floss gently between each pair of teeth in turn, curving it slightly so as to cover the edges of the teeth. Then clean gently up and down between the top and the gum line a few times, trying to get a little way under the gum line without hurting the gum. Once you have cleaned one gap, wind the used piece of floss onto the middle finger of your right hand, and unwind a clean piece from the holding spool finger to prepare for cleaning the next area.

We are only given one set of permanent teeth. Neglecting them by slacking off when it comes to keeping them clean, or abusing them with force when we do clean them, can both lead to damage that will impact on your health. It is also essential to maintain regular dental check-ups to ensure that your Vancouver dentist or hygienist can catch any problems early on, or see that areas that are hard to reach are professionally cleaned.

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