For oral hygiene, the ADA recommends you to:
- Floss daily (inter-dental cleaners are OK)
- Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
- Get a regular dental cleaning and oral exam
- Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks
These tips are all about fighting plaque. For greatest effectiveness, please follow the techniques below.Make Appointment
How to floss teeth:
- Take 18 inches of floss, wind mostly around one index finger and the rest around the other.
- Thread the floss between your teeth. Then gently rub up-and-down; do not saw in-and-out.
- Curve the floss around the tooth along the gum line, gently rub up-and-down, and wind it away from the gum line around the other finger.
Colgate has a good 1-minute video about how to floss teeth.
How to brush teeth:
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
- Gently brush back-and-forth in short strokes.
- Do so on the outer/inner/chewing surfaces, both top and bottom.
- For the inner front teeth, gently brush-up-and-down.
- Brush tongue to remove bacteria, and gums to increase blood flow.
Colgate has a good 1-minute video about how to brush teeth.
Extra tips: Floss before you brush, so toothpaste can reach between teeth. Right after acidic foods or drinks, rinse but do not brush away the weakened enamel. Keep toothbrush clean and dry to limit bacteria - rinse, shake, and store upright to air. Avoid sharing, which transfers oral bacteria.
A dental cleaning reaches inside pits and fissures on chewing surfaces, where over 80% of cavities occur since no brushing, fluoride or saliva can reach.
A dental cleaning also removes tartar (plaque that hardens after a few days), which brushing and flossing cannot. Tartar often causes gum disease, which ranges from mild (swelling, bleeding, and bad breath) to severe (tooth and bone loss). Gum disease is related to heart disease, and causes more tooth loss than do cavities.
Following a dental cleaning, a sealant on chewing teeth may be advisable - a thin plastic film to prevent food from depositing there. Learn more from the ADA article about sealing out tooth decay.
A dental exam screens for gum disease, tooth decay, oral cancer, loose teeth, damaged fillings, problems with bite or dental appliances, plus several health risks.
A balanced diet supports healthy gums, teeth, and bones. Vitamin C (citrus fruits, leafy vegetables, potatoes), vitamin B12 (dairy, meat) and folic acid (spinach, broccoli) strengthen gums. Calcium (dairy, dark green leafy vegetables) promotes strong teeth and bones.
Snacking should be limited and optimized as follows:
- End meals with milk or cheese
- Avoid frequent snacks that are sugary (candy, cookies) or sticky (cake, pretzels)
- If you do snack, choose apples, pears, vegetables (rich in water, diluting sugars and drawing saliva); nuts, cheese, plain yogurt (rich in calcium and phosphate, components of tooth enamel)
- Between meals, avoid drinks that are acidic (soda, orange juice, lemonade) or sugary (tea, coffee, sports drinks), and certainly do not sip for long
- Use a straw to drink, to reduce contact with teeth
- Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva
- After brushing at night, consume nothing but water
You can read more about diet and dental health.
Oral hygiene saves discomfort, treatment & expense, and keeps your smile healthy and beautiful.