Dentist at Rock Creek

How to Brush and Floss Your Way to Fewer Cavities

Aug 02, 2023
How to Brush and Floss Your Way to Fewer Cavities
From early childhood, you’re taught that brushing and flossing are important for flosing is not only to prevent cavities but also gum disease.But you’re not always taught the right way to perform these habits to get the most benefits. These tips can help.

You certainly know that brushing and flossing are the cornerstones of daily oral hygiene, yet you don’t get the maximum benefits from these activities if you don’t use the proper technique. 

Even a slight variation in the way you brush or floss can have a major impact on how well you remove plaque and prevent oral health problems, like gum disease and cavities.

At Dentist at Rock Creek in Cypress, Texas, Sandra Raouf, DDS, and KimCuc Vo, DDS, help our patients learn key prevention strategies aimed at keeping oral health problems at bay. 

In this post, learn what you can do to get the most from your brushing and flossing routines.

Proper brushing technique

Start by selecting a brush you’re comfortable with — manual and electric both do a good job as long as you use them twice a day with the right technique. Select a toothpaste with fluoride to help strengthen enamel and prevent cavities.

Placing the brush at a 45-degree angle at the base of your teeth, gently move the brush in a circular motion to clean the outer surfaces of your teeth. Move your brush to the chewing surfaces and clean thoroughly. 

Then, tilt your brush vertically to reach the back sides of each tooth, cleaning with a series of up-and-down strokes to remove food residue, plaque, and stains.

Replace your brush or your brush head every 3-4 months or whenever it shows signs of wear. A worn toothbrush can’t clean your teeth as well, which means your risk of cavities and gum disease increases.

Next up: Flossing

As with paste and brushes, begin by selecting a floss that feels comfortable to you. If plain floss is hard to manage, try a flossing pick or tiny interdental brushes instead. A water flosser can also help, but don’t use one as a substitute for regular flossing.

For regular floss, break off an 18-inch piece and wrap most of it around one index finger. Wrap the remaining amount around your other index finger, leaving 2-3 inches of floss between your fingers. Use your thumbs to hold the floss against your index fingers, and pull the floss taut.

Gently glide the floss between each pair of teeth. Do not use a sawing motion, since you could injure your gums. 

Once the floss is in place, curve it against the surface of the tooth and gently move the floss up and down to remove sticky plaque. Reverse directions and curve the floss around the neighboring tooth, moving the floss up and down gently.

Do this for every pair of teeth, as well as the back side of the last teeth on each side of the top and bottom rows (teeth that don’t have neighbors on one side). Advance the floss as you go to provide fresh floss along the way. 

The American Dental Association offers a video on its website that shows the proper technique. Floss once a day, ideally before bed to get rid of food particles as well as plaque.

Optimize your own techniques

In addition to the website noted above, there’s another way to learn the right way to brush and floss: Ask your dentist or hygienist. 

During your regular cleaning appointment, we can look for areas where your techniques need some improvement, then offer tips that cater to your specific needs and risk factors.

If it’s been a while since your last checkup, now is the time to schedule a visit. To book your cleaning and exam, call 832-737-8243 or book an appointment online with our team at Dentist at Rock Creek today.