Toothbrushing is an effective way of removing plaque (a sticky mixture of bacteria, food and debris) from your teeth. Daily removal of plaque can prevent tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Select a toothbrush that will provide easy access to all areas of your mouth; this includes one with a small head (1 inch by 1/2 inch) and a flexible head or handle. The brush should have soft nylon bristles with round heads and a wide handle for a firm grip. There are also a variety of electric or sonic brushes that work well. Call our office for a recommendation.

Establishing a daily pattern and a consistent approach to your brushing technique is important to ensure that you have accomplished adequate cleaning. One easy technique involves placing the toothbrush at a 45° angle to your teeth and gently brushing in an elliptical motion. Start on the same quadrant (same side, lower or upper)] each time. Brush the outside of the teeth, the inside and the biting surface. Repeat this action with the other three quadrants. When you are finished, brush your tongue. Adequate brushing should take three to four minutes.

There are other effective brushing methods that may be appropriate for you, depending on the condition of your teeth and gums. Bring your brush to your next check-up visit and have your dentist or hygienist review your technique.

Toothbrushing is most effective if done immediately after eating. It would be a wise idea to keep an extra brush at work for after lunch or snacks. Toothpaste is not necessary if you are using fluoride toothpaste at home 1-2 times a day. Just rinse with water when you are finished.

Effective toothbrushing starts with habit and routine and ends with time, diligence and good technique.

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