Is There a Correct Way to Brush and Floss?

Cleaning your teeth is a practice you likely don’t give much thought to on a daily basis. For many of us, brushing and flossing our teeth has become so routine that we do it without thinking. However, hopefully you’re brushing twice a day and flossing once a day to keep your teeth clean and healthy!

But is there a correct way to brush and floss your pearly whites? Yes, there is! The following are good general guidelines for brushing and flossing as recommended by the American Dental Association and most dentists today.

Wait One Hour After Eating Before Brushing Your Teeth

First, before brushing, it’s best to know when to brush. Most of us know that brushing before breakfast is ideal, but what about that second brushing?

Due to the fact that your tooth enamel is affected by what you eat, it’s best to wait a minimum of 30 minutes and ideally one hour after eating to brush your teeth [1]. This is especially true if you’ve consumed acidic foods or drinks that can weaken tooth enamel such as soda or sugar.

Brushing immediately after eating can damage tooth enamel, causing it to wear away over time and subjecting teeth to painful tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and an increased risk for tooth decay.

Brush All Surfaces of Your Teeth Strategically

Instead of brushing without intention, brush your teeth strategically. With a soft-bristled brush, angle your toothbrush about 45 degrees to your gums and use short strokes to brush all surfaces of your teeth.

Be gentle yet thorough when brushing, and then position your toothbrush vertically to clean the backsides of your upper and lower front teeth [2]. Being too harsh when brushing or using a stiff-bristled toothbrush can damage your tooth enamel, especially if you already have sensitive teeth. Plaque can be removed gently, so be mindful about your brushing habits to protect your smile!

Take Your Time When Flossing

Many people make flossing a 30-second habit, yanking the floss in and out of their teeth. Just like with brushing, you want to be gentle when you floss, and you want to floss correctly.

So how do you do it?

Begin by making sure you’re using enough floss. You should have enough floss to use a new, clean section for each set of teeth. For most people, this equals about 18 inches of floss.

Holding the floss with your thumb and pointer finger, move the floss gently in between your teeth and move it upwards towards the gumline, curving it into a “C” shape as you go, allowing the floss to conform to the tooth and gently clean just beneath the gumline [3].

If you haven’t flossed in a while, it’s normal for your gums to bleed a bit or feel sore during the first couple of times. However, if the discomfort or bleeding persists, be sure to follow up with your dentist.

Have Questions? Ask Your Dentist!

If you have any questions about your brushing and flossing methods, ask your dentist. Your dentist or dental hygienist can let you know if your cleaning methods are effective during your regular checkups, and let you know if you’re missing any areas. Brush and floss your teeth properly for a truly clean smile!

Sources:
1. https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(14)65077-7/fulltext
2. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/~/media/MouthHealthy/Files/Kids_Section/ADAHowTo
3. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/flossing-steps

Summary
Article Name
Is There a Correct Way to Brush and Floss?
Description
Is there a correct way to brush and floss your pearly whites? Yes, there is! The following are good general guidelines for brushing and flossing as recommended by the American Dental Association and most dentists today.
Author
DC Dental Spa