The American Dental Association offers these tips for daily oral care:
Clean to remove plaque
- The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces.
- Brush your teeth twice a day, with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth, allowing you to reach all areas easily. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. When choosing any dental product, look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, an important symbol of a dental product's safety and effectiveness.
- Cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners removes plaque from between the teeth, areas where the toothbrush can't reach. It is essential in preventing periodontal (gum) disease.
- By taking care of your teeth, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly, you can have healthy teeth and an attractive smile your entire life. Follow these tips to keep your teeth and mouth clean:
How to brush your teeth
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
- Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
- Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Use the "toe" of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
How to floss your teeth
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up-and-down motions.
- Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don't forget the back side of your last tooth.
- People who have difficulty handling dental floss may prefer to use another kind of interdental cleaner. These aids include special brushes, picks or sticks. If you use interdental cleaners, ask your dentist about how to use them properly, to avoid injuring your gums.