Bass Brushing Technique
- Hold the head of the toothbrush horizontally against your teeth with the bristles part way on the gums.
- Tilt the brush head to about a 45-degree angle, so the bristles are pointing under the gum line.
- Move the toothbrush in very short horizontal strokes so the tips of the bristles stay in one place, but the head of the brush waggles back and forth. Or use tiny circular motions. This allows the bristles to slide gently under the gum.
- Do this for about 20 strokes. This assures that adequate time will be spent cleaning away as much plaque as possible. Note: this is a very gentle motion. In healthy gums, this should cause no pain. Brushing too vigorously or with large strokes can damage gum tissue.
- Repeat for every tooth, so that all tooth surfaces and gum lines are cleaned.
- For the insides of your front teeth, where the horizontal brush position is cumbersome, hold the brush vertically instead. Again, use gentle back and forth brushing action.
- To clean the biting or chewing surfaces of the teeth, hold the brush so the bristles are straight down on the flat surface of the molars.
- Gently move the brush back and forth or in tiny circles to clean the entire surface. Move to a new tooth or area until all teeth are cleaned.
- You can clear even more bacteria out of your mouth by brushing your tongue. With your toothbrush, brush firmly but gently from back to front.
Many people never learned to floss as children. But flossing is critical to healthy gums and it’s never too late to start. A common rule of thumb says that any difficult new habit becomes second nature after only three weeks.
If you have difficulty figuring out what to do, ask your dentist or dental hygienist to give you a personal lesson. Here are a few general pointers about flossing:
- Floss once a day. Although there is no research to recommend an optimum number of times to floss, most dentists recommend a thorough flossing at least once a day. If you tend to get food trapped between teeth, flossing more often can help remove it.
- Take your time. Flossing requires a certain amount of dexterity and thought. Don’t rush.
- Choose your own time. Although most people find that just before bed is an ideal time, many oral health professionals recommend flossing any time that is most convenient to ensure that you will continue to floss regularly. Choose a time during the day when you can floss without haste.
- Don’t skimp on the floss. Use as much as you need to clean both sides of every tooth with a fresh section of floss. In fact, you may need to floss one tooth several times (using fresh sections of floss) to remove all the food debris. Although there has been no research, some professionals think reusing sections of floss may redistribute bacteria pulled off one tooth onto another tooth.
- Choose the type that works best for you. There are many different types of floss: waxed and unwaxed, flavoured and unflavoured, ribbon and thread. Try different varieties before settling on one. People with teeth that are closely spaced will find that waxed floss slides more easily into the tight space. There are tougher shred-resistant varieties that work well for people with rough edges that tend to catch and rip floss.
How to Floss
How you hold the floss is a matter of personal preference. The most common method is to wind the floss around the middle fingers, then pull it taut and guide it with your index fingers.
- You also can wind it around your index fingers and guide it with your thumb and middle fingers, or simply hold the ends of the floss or use a floss-guiding tool. (If you have a fixed bridge, a bridge threader can help guide floss under the bridge for better cleaning.) How you hold the thread is not as important as what you do with it. If you can’t settle in on a good method, ask your dentist or hygienist for suggestions.
- Hold the floss so that a short segment is ready to work with.
- With light to firm pressure to skim off plaque in that area. Do not press so hard that you injure the gum.
- Repeat for all sides of the tooth Guide the floss gently between two teeth. If the fit is tight, use a back-and-forth motion to work the floss through the narrow spot. Do not snap the floss in or you could cut your gums.
- Hold the floss around the front and back of one tooth, making it into a “C” shape. This will wrap the floss around the side edge of that tooth.
- Gently move the floss toward the base of the tooth and up into the space between the tooth and gum.
Move the floss up and down, including the outermost side of the last tooth. Advance the floss to a clean segment for each tooth edge.
Other Ways to Clean Between the Teeth
Many people have larger spaces between their teeth and need additional tools, called interdental cleaners, to remove food particles and bacterial plaque adequately.
You may have larger spaces that need extra care if you have had gum surgery or if you have teeth that are missing or out of alignment.
Small interdental brushes are tiny bristle or filament brushes that can fit between teeth and come in a variety of sizes and handle designs. These brushes clean better than floss when the gum tissue does not completely fill the space between your teeth. These little brushes also can help people with orthodontic bands on their teeth to remove bacterial plaque from around the wires and brackets.
Another tool for cleaning between teeth is wooden interdental cleaners. These long, triangular strips of wood can be softened and used to clean between teeth. You can find these interdental cleaners at most chemists and supermarkets. Your dentist or dental hygienist can show you how to use these cleaners to remove plaque between your teeth.