How to Brush Your Teeth, Floss and Eat Properly for Optimal Dental Health

Have you ever wondered whether you have overlooked important steps in oral hygiene practices? In addition to taking good care of your own oral health, it's also your duty as a parent to pass on good dental practices to your children. Sometimes, as common tasks become habit, we tend to lose sight of using the proper techniques. Read on for a quick refresher on brushing, flossing and eating well for healthy teeth and gums.

How to Brush Your Teeth

When you brush your teeth, your goal is to remove as much plaque as possible. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), plaque is a bacteria-filled, translucent substance that coats the teeth and gums. Removing plaque by brushing helps keep teeth healthy and cavity-free. You and your children should brush your teeth for a minimum of two minutes. During brushing, you should brush the inside, outside and top of every tooth with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush your teeth gently, however, because rigorous brushing can irritate the gums. Don't forget to brush soft tissues as well, including the gum line and your tongue, to remove as much oral bacteria as possible. To help clean your entire mouth, consider using the Colgate® 360°® toothbrush with a built-in tongue and cheek cleaner.

How to Floss

While your toothbrush can remove most plaque, it cannot completely clean between teeth. For this reason, flossing daily is a must. According to the ADA, flossing disrupts colonies of bacteria that form along the gum line while also stimulating the gums, which helps prevent gum disease. Begin by dispensing about a foot and a half of floss. Wrap most of the floss around your middle fingers, and use your index fingers as a steady guide when flossing between teeth. Using just a couple of inches of floss, gently move the floss between each tooth in back-and-forth motions. Be sure to make a curved shape with the floss around the bottom of your tooth so that the floss cleans slightly below the gum line. Make sure you are using a fresh area of floss between each tooth so that you are not moving plaque from tooth to tooth. Avoid using too much force because this can cut or scrape the gums.

Dietary Tips for Dental Health

Oral bacteria feeds on sugar; in fact, sugar is oral bacteria's natural food source. According to the ADA, diets low in starches and sugar can help starve oral bacteria. Instead of eating processed foods with additives and simple carbohydrates, consider preparing more meals with fresh vegetables and lean proteins for the entire family. Also, try to limit your children's snacking between meals to keep mouths clean and healthy between brushings. Another easy way to reduce sugar intake is to swap out carbonated and sugary beverages for water. Exchanging sugary drinks for water not only helps starve bacteria, but it also helps rinse the mouth.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.