Brushing and Flossing

September 11, 2023, Shane Smith DDS

Dental hygienist demonstration proper flossing technique.
Dental hygienist demonstration proper flossing technique.
Learn the proper techniques for brushing and flossing your teeth, ensuring a brighter, healthier smile for years to come.


Maintaining good oral hygiene is fundamental to overall health, and it all begins with proper brushing and flossing techniques. In this article, we will look into the science behind the proper way to brush and floss your teeth, ensuring that you have the knowledge needed for a healthy smile.

The Basics of Brushing

Brushing your teeth might seem straightforward, but there's more to it than meets the eye. Let's break down the basics:

Choosing the Right Toothbrush

Start by selecting a soft-bristled toothbrush. The soft bristles are gentle on your gums and tooth enamel, reducing the risk of damage. Hard bristles can be abrasive and harmful over time.

Proper Brush Size

Opt for a toothbrush with a size and shape that comfortably fits in your mouth. It should be easy to maneuver around all areas of your teeth.

Toothpaste Matters

Use a fluoride toothpaste, as fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevents cavities. Just a pea-sized amount is sufficient.

Brushing Time

Brush for a full two minutes. Dividing your mouth into quadrants and spending 30 seconds on each is an effective approach.


Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line. Use gentle, circular motions to clean the front, back, and chewing surfaces of your teeth. Don't forget your tongue and the roof of your mouth.

Replace Your Toothbrush

Change your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three to four months or when the bristles are frayed. A worn-out toothbrush is less effective at cleaning your teeth.


Flossing is the often-overlooked hero of oral hygiene. It reaches areas between your teeth that your toothbrush can't access. Here's how to do it right:

Type of Floss

Dental floss comes in various forms, including waxed, unwaxed, tape, and picks. Choose the type that you find most comfortable to use, as long as it's effective.

Amount of Floss

Take about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one finger. Leave a few inches for maneuvering between your teeth.

Proper Technique

Gently slide the floss between your teeth using a sawing motion. Be careful not to snap or force it, as this can harm your gums. Form a "C" Shape Curve the floss around each tooth in a "C" shape, moving it up and down. This ensures you clean both sides of each tooth and reach below the gumline.

The Science Behind the Techniques

Understanding why proper brushing and flossing techniques are crucial can motivate you to follow them diligently.

Plaque Removal

Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, forms on your teeth daily. Brushing and flossing are the primary ways to remove it. Failure to do so can lead to gum disease and cavities.

Gum Health

Gum disease can result from the buildup of plaque and tartar. Proper techniques prevent this buildup, keeping your gums healthy.

Preventing Bad Breath

Bacteria in your mouth can cause bad breath. Thorough cleaning removes these odor-causing culprits.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Brushing with fluoride toothpaste strengthens tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks and decay.


Proper brushing and flossing techniques are not merely routine tasks but essential practices for maintaining optimal oral health. As a dentist, I emphasize the importance of these techniques to my patients in Jonesboro, AR, and beyond. By understanding the science behind them and following the correct steps, you can achieve a bright, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime. Remember, consistency is key, and don't hesitate to consult with your dentist if you have any questions or concerns about your oral hygiene routine.


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