Oral Hygiene 101: How To Brush, Floss, and More

How to brush teeth

Want to know how to brush teeth correctly?

During regular dental visits, we’re frequently asked by patients about how to brush teeth. And though we all know the importance of brushing our teeth twice a day, many patients wonder if they are brushing their teeth correctly or not. So we’ve put together this oral hygiene breakdown to answer your questions so that you can best prioritize your dental hygiene.

If you want to know how to brush teeth correctly, first know that you aren’t alone. And Dr. Oxley wants you to know that asking is perfectly OK. So let’s get into the details of how to protect your teeth. What we tell you might, in fact, surprise you.

1. Floss first.

Dr. Oxley recommends flossing first; we know this might contradict what you have read or heard. But flossing before you brush your teeth enables better fluoride retention because it loosens the bacteria, plaque, and food particles that have become trapped between your teeth. When you brush after you floss, your bristles can then flush those particles out from those hard-to-reach spaces.

To floss correctly, use about 18 inches of floss and wrap the floss around your fingers so that you have about an inch in between to work with. Place the floss between two of your teeth so that it hugs the front tooth, and then reposition it to hug the tooth behind it. Holding the floss taut, gently move it up and down across each of the teeth before popping it out. Repeat between all of your teeth, and don’t forget to get behind those teeth in the very back.

2. Brush second.

After flossing, it is time to brush those pearly whites. Select the toothbrush that you prefer; just be sure to use one with soft bristles. Electric toothbrushes are handy because they do the work for you, but a manual toothbrush is still well suited for the job as long as you are gentle.

To properly brush your teeth, hold the bristles of your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline. Using soft strokes, move the brush gently in a circular motion to clean your teeth. As you brush, it’s important to know, too, that we’re not just trying to make our smiles look good by loosening those popcorn husks or bits of spinach that have become stuck. While that is important, the greater concern is bacteria, the biofilm that can cause cavities and gum disease.

3. Rinse third (if you want).

Believe it or not, rinsing is completely optional and up to you. We think it is better to let the benefits of your toothpaste sit on your teeth while you get on with your day. However, if you like the minty freshness or additional clean feeling that rinsing gives you, by all means, be sure to rinse. We love the TheraBreath rinse, but there are plenty of great options on the market to choose from.

Brushing and Flossing FAQs

Now that you know how to floss and brush, let’s answer some other popular questions.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?

We recommend that you replace your toothbrush every two to three months. Be on the lookout for splayed or frayed bristles, as this indicates that you need a new brush. And if you have been sick, get a new toothbrush (or replace the head if you have an electric toothbrush). 

How much toothpaste should I use?

While you may think that more is better, the opposite is true. Less is more. Just a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is all you need to cover all of your teeth adequately. And the most effective method is not to use water at all. Water on your toothbrush and toothpaste makes the overall process less effective.  

When is the best time to brush my teeth?

The best times to brush your teeth are in the morning after breakfast and at the end of the day before bed. However, for that morning brushing, give your mouth a bit of time between your meal and oral hygiene habits. This allows the saliva in your mouth to diminish any acids from the foods that you ate.

How do I keep my toothbrush clean?

First, never share your toothbrush. Also, be sure to let your toothbrush dry out before you put it away. If you use an electric toothbrush, take the brush part off and set it to dry (after you rinse it), then wipe the bottom part clean to avoid buildup between the head and handle. If you frequently have overnight guests, consider stocking some inexpensive soft-bristled toothbrushes for one-and-done uses. 

Visit Oxley Comprehensive Dental for your next dental cleaning.

Now that you are in the know on all things flossing and brushing, don’t forget the third part of the oral hygiene triangle: your professional dental cleanings and oral evaluations. Visiting the dentist every six months completes the trifecta to help protect your teeth and gums from tooth decay and periodontitis. So if you are overdue for your cleaning, need some tips for better oral health, or have lingering questions about how to brush teeth, take some time today to request an appointment with your favorite New Bern family dental practice. We look forward to seeing you.