It's easy to keep your teeth and gums in good health. A simple routine of daily teeth cleaning, good eating habits and regular dental visits can help prevent tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease.
Your teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque (sounds like PLAK). If you brush twice a day and floss once a day, you can remove most of the harmful plaque and bacteria. But if plaque stays on the teeth, it will eventually harden into tartar. It is harder to brush and floss when tartar builds up near the gumline.
Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay. Select a toothbrush that feels comfortable in your hand and in your mouth. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed. If you have hand, arm, or shoulder problems that limit movement, you may find a powered toothbrush easier to use.
Choose products with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. The ADA Seal on a product is your assurance that it has met ADA standards for safety and effectiveness. Your dental team can point you to products for your specific needs.
What are some tips for brushing teeth properly?
There is more than one way to brush your teeth, so it's a good idea to ask your dentist which one to use. Here are a few tips to help you start a good routine:
1. Place the toothbrush against your gumline at a 45-degree angle. Move the brush back and forth gently in short strokes.
2. Brush the outer tooth surfaces, keeping the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
3. Brush the inner tooth surfaces, still with the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle.
4. Brush the chewing surfaces.
5. Use the top part of the brush to clean the inside surface of the top and bottom front teeth. Use a gentle up-and-down motion.
6. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
The basics of brushing, flossing, fluoride and oral habits are crucial to the long-term health of your child’s mouth. Our Dental Health page explores how to start now with your children to create healthy habits in oral care and diet to ensure their long-term oral health. Click here for more information.
Even if you brush twice a day, there are places your toothbrush bristles can't reach. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gumline. A simple routine of daily teeth cleaning, good eating habits and regular dental visits can help prevent tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease.
If you have trouble handling floss, you may wish to try a floss holder or another type of interdental cleaning aid. Interdental cleaners include narrow brushes, picks, or sticks used to remove plaque from between teeth. Your dentist or hygienist can tell you how to use these special cleaners.
Choose products with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. The ADA Seal on a product is your assurance that it has met ADA standards for safety and effectiveness. Look for the ADA Seal on fluoride toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, interdental cleaners, oral irrigators and mouth rinse.
Your dentist or hygienist can show you the right way to floss. It may feel clumsy at first, but don't give up. It takes time to get the hang of it. The following suggestions may help.
1. Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around your middle or index finger. Wind the rest of the floss around a finger of the other hand. This finger will take up the used floss.
2. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth, using a gentle rubbing motion. To avoid hurting your gums, never snap the floss into gum tissue.
3. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
4. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motion.
5. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. As you move from tooth to tooth, unwind the clean floss with one finger and take up the used floss with the finger on the other hand. Do not forget the back side of the last tooth.