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Health Tip of the Month: Are You Brushing and Flossing Correctly?

Are you brushing and flossing as well as you think you are? I find we all get into our own routine and we brush the same way every day, which means we brush the same areas repeatedly and we miss the same areas repeatedly.  I want to challenge you to take a step back and watch yourself in the mirror at night as you brush and floss.  When you give a more conscious effort to how you are brushing and flossing, a few things start to improve:

  1. When you pay attention to brushing, you start to re-train the motor skill between your brain/hand/eye coordination.
  2. With better motor skills your ability to control the plaque/biofilm in your mouth improves. The purpose of good home care is to control the bacteria and microbes in the mouth.

I recommend developing a regular home care regiment where you floss using a string floss of your preference.  I like the floss pickers throughout the day, but nothing can replace the string floss.  So before going to bed, get the string floss out.   Next use a tongue scraper; you can get one at any of the major stores.  Start in the back and scrape the top surface of your tongue. This area is a major harbor for biofilm development and bad breath.

Next brush with a soft to medium toothbrush and remember you are not at war with your teeth and gums.  You do not need to “death scrub” but rather gently and thoroughly massage the gum line angling your bristles at a 45 degree angle to the gum line. Massage in circles of five then overlap to the next tooth: this is where watching yourself is necessary to help you evaluate your ability to be thorough.  I recommend using a mouth rinse for 30 seconds to a minute.  I want to stress: do not go to bed with any food in your teeth! The bacteria eat what you eat; if you eat some late night Taco Bell and go to bed, the bacteria are having a Fiesta at your expense!

Most importantly, remember you are only human; you will never be able to perfectly clean your mouth. Therefore, it is very important to see your dentist and hygienist regularly, twice a year. And for those of you with the gum disease, periodontitis, more than twice a year may be necessary.