Brushing your teeth is done so that you can remove plaque, a transparent, sticky layer of bacteria that coats the teeth. The bacteria present in plaque will produce acids when exposed to sugar. These acids will attack the outer surface of the tooth (the enamel) and gradually break it down, thus resulting in a cavity. The cavity that has been formed can grow in size and cause a lot of damage to the tooth. This can then lead to toothaches and even infections inside the tooth, which must then be treated by doing a root canal or other drastic and expensive dental treatments.
Also if the plaque is not removed it will eventually turn into a hardened material called tartar or calculus. This leads to a discoloring of the teeth and can also lead to gum disease. Once calculus has formed it cannot be removed by brushing. It will require a dentist to scrape this material off the teeth.
Another important reason for brushing and flossing is to stimulate the gums so that they stay healthy. This prevents gum disease.
Brushing is done using a soft-bristled tooth brush and toothpaste. Toothpastes contain abrasives, detergents and foaming agents and also an active ingredient called fluoride. It is fluoride that provides extra protection against the formation of cavities.
You should brush your teeth for at least two minutes, minimally two times a day, preferably three. This is after breakfast and before bedtime, and if possible after lunch.
Brushing should be done for at least two minutes. This involves using gentle circular, or short back-and-forth, strokes with the brush at a 45-degree angle along the gum line. All four surfaces of each tooth needs to be brushed (inner, outer, chewing surfaces and in between the teeth.)
Flossing is the action of taking dental floss (a fiber thread) , wrapping the ends around your middle fingers and then inserting it between the teeth and then gently pulling the thread back-and-forth and moving it up and down. This action removes food particles from between the teeth and near the gum line that could not be removed by brushing. At first your gums may bleed, but after a week of continued flossing this should go away. Flossing should be done after brushing your teeth.
Irina Rodriguez, D.D.S.
(Serving Ojai, Lake Casitas, Santa Paula, Oxnard, Ventura, Carpinteria)
117 Pirie Rd., Suite A
Ojai, CA 93023
Phone: (805) 646-3700 Emergency: (805) 415-4478