Despite the fact that we’re always told to brush and floss our teeth, we aren’t usually told why. Of course, brushing our teeth helps combat oral odor and boost aesthetics, but how does brushing and flossing play major roles in overall oral hygiene?
If you’ve ever gone to the dentist, they have likely told you that it is very important to brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth is a step you shouldn’t skip, but rather, be diligent about. The best way to brush away plaque buildup on your teeth is by brushing them. Throughout the day, a clear layer of bacteria called plaque builds a coat around your teeth. When left there to build up, you’re at risk of getting cavities and/or gum disease. In order to remove that film on your teeth, you must brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once.
Flossing is an essential step in proper oral hygiene, as it cleans between your teeth. Simply brushing your teeth cleans the tops and sides of your teeth, but flossing gets in between and clears out any plaque or food buildup. Keeping your teeth clean and free of plaque overload and food particles is pertinent in preventing cavities and gum disease. Untreated cavities are not fun, and can lead to pain, infection, and even tooth loss. Untreated gum disease can lead to bone loss, tooth loss, and loosened teeth. Both of these oral issues are largely preventable with proper oral hygiene that consists of daily brushing and flossing.
Being that brushing your teeth regularly is so essential, just how often is ‘regularly’? Well, according to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes at a time. The most optimal way is to work in sections of the mouth and brush each area for 30 seconds. For example, you can brush the top left set of teeth first for 30 seconds, move your way to the right side and brush for 30 minutes, move down to the bottom left and repeat. Then make your way to the fronts of your teeth, and be sure to lightly brush your gums, as well. Not only does brushing your teeth clean your teeth, but it also stimulates and cleans the gum line, keeping it free of plaque and buildup.
With flossing, the recommendation is once a day. However, if you eat a meal that will likely leave you with food particles in your teeth like ribs, popcorn, crackers, etc., it would likely be best for you to re-floss to prevent those particles from staying in your teeth. Food particles feed the bacteria that is living in your mouth, which end up creating acid from bacterial digestion, making it so that the acid erodes your tooth enamel, causing tooth decay. When there is food stuck in your teeth, it is very important to make sure it’s out.
For optimal oral hygiene, you should brush your teeth when you wake up and right before you go to bed. It should be the last thing you do before going to bed, because eating again after nighttime brushing could cause food particles to stay lodged in your teeth, breeding bacteria. However, your dentist might suggest different brushing frequencies for you depending on your individual case.
As for flossing, you should floss at least once a day and it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s morning or night. Some might argue that flossing at night is better, being that you have eaten throughout the day and can do a good clean out before bed. You can use regular floss, a water flosser, or floss picks, and all you have to do is floss up and down the sides of each tooth to remove that plaque, food particles, and bacteria.
Overall, a good rule of thumb is to brush and floss your teeth everyday, as this is a key way to prevent tooth and gum issues, and keep your oral hygiene up to par. Be diligent about keeping your teeth and mouths clean, and be sure to see your dentist regularly to ensure that there are no underlying issues with your teeth. To schedule a dental cleaning and oral check-up, be sure to contact us here at Smiles 4 Arlington to schedule your appointment!