shark and toothbrush

The major cause of tooth decay and gum disease is plaque. Plaque is a thin, colorless, sticky film containing harmful bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. With proper home care and regular dental visits you can, for the most part, prevent these two diseases.

brushing bristles are at a 45 degree angle to the teeth

brushing short back and forth strokes to clean one or two teeth at a time

brushing brushing the narrower inner surfaces requires a change in brush position

brushing don't forget to brush the tongue

Use a soft bristle brush with end-rounded or polished bristles. The size of the brush should allow you to reach every tooth. Children and people with small mouths need a smaller brush. It is important to replace your brush regularly as a worn and frayed brush cannot clean properly.
Place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums so that the bristles will clean the crevice where the teeth and gums meet.
Gently move the brush back and forth in short strokes.
Brush all outer and inner surfaces of the upper and lower teeth in this manner.
Change the position of the toothbrush frequently, moving it slowly across all the surfaces of every tooth. The toothbrush can clean only one or two teeth at a time.
Scrub the chewing surfaces of all the teeth to clean the grooves and fissures.
Brushing the tongue will dislodge the bacteria that form on its surface.

a piece of floss about 1 1/2 inches between two fingers

flossing placing the floss between two back teeth

flossing flossing a front tooth--note the floss curved against one of the teeth

The use of floss is just as important and necessary as the toothbrush. Flossing removes plaque from between the teeth and under the gumline--areas a toothbrush cannnot reach. These are the parts of the teeth where decay and periodontal disease often start. Flossing is a skill that needs to be learned. With practice you will find that flossing takes only a few minutes of your time each day.
Break off a piece of floss about 18 inches long and wrap most of it around your index finger.
Wind the rest of the floss around the same finger on the other hand.
Pinch a piece about 1 1\2 inches long between your thumb and index finger.
With gentle pressure push it down between two of your teeth.
When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it against the surface of one of the teeth. Scrape the side of the tooth in an up and down motion about 5 times. Do the same against the other tooth in this space.
Remove the floss from this space and move to a space between the next two teeth--continue this procedure between all the teeth in your mouth. As you move along the floss can be unraveled from one finger to the other to use a clean section.
Other aids and devices
Floss holders--These devices can be useful for people who have trouble handling the floss or people with limited finger dexterity.
Oral irrigation devices--These devices don't remove plaque, therefore they cannot be used as a replacement for flossing and brushing. They can be helpful aids for some people, especially those with orthodontic bands or fixed bridges, to remove loose bits of food and other material from around the teeth.
Mouthrinses--Some non-prescription mouthrinses can be helpful aids in caring for your teeth.
  • fluoride mouthrinses can help prevent tooth decay
  • antimicrobial rinses, such as Listerine, can reduce the amount of plaque by killing some of the bacteria
Electric toothbrushes--Electric brushes are just as effective as manual brushes. Persons with physical difficulties may find an electric toothbrush easier to use.
Interdental cleaning devices--There are many such devices on the market. They can be useful aids in specific circumstances as recommended by a dentist or hygienist.

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