Every dentist talks about the importance of brushing and flossing your teeth, but there has always been some ambiguity about how often and for how long. At Li Family Dental, we believe asking questions and staying informed is crucial to good oral health and hygiene. So, we invite our clients to ask us questions, even when they may have obvious answers. Two of the questions we receive frequently are, “How often should I brush my teeth?” and, “How often should I floss my teeth?”
Here, we will discuss the importance of both, and help you better understand how much brushing and flossing is enough.
There is some discrepancy between dentists about how often is enough when brushing your teeth. The official recommendation from the Canadian Dental Association is a minimum of twice daily. However, most oral hygienists would go so far as to suggest brushing after every meal.
Brushing twice a day for 2 minutes at a time helps prevent the risk of:
When you consider how often your teeth are in contact with food and drink, does 4 minutes a day sound like enough time to you? Brushing after every meal ensures that the sugar, plaque build-up, and debris from food and drinks is washed away — right away. This leaves less time for these substances to stain your teeth and build up bacteria in your mouth. So, to answer the question, “How often should I brush my teeth?” — we would say, at least twice a day, but after every major meal if possible.
Flossing and brushing go together like PB&J. In other words, every time you brush your teeth, you should be prepared to floss them. Why? When you eat, your teeth tear and grind food into digestible portions before swallowing. This causes some particles of food to become lodged between your teeth. Sometimes, these bits of food get caught and do not come loose with the use of a toothbrush.
Flossing between your teeth ensures that all the food particles in your mouth are clear of your teeth. Aside from the obvious issue of potential tooth decay where food gets trapped, you may also notice headaches, jaw aches, and toothaches due to food lodged between your teeth. This is because your bite is being forced apart, and this small adjustment to your teeth is causing pressure on your jaw, and in turn, your mouth and head.
So, “How often should I floss my teeth?” We recommend, again, at least twice, but after every major meal if possible.
Yes! Surprisingly, there is such a thing as brushing or flossing too much. As you brush your teeth, you are cleaning away debris and plaque buildup. However, you may also begin to strip away the outer layer of your teeth, called the enamel. When this happens, it causes your teeth to become sensitive, and could even cause some pain.
How much brushing is too much? If you stay within the minimum of twice daily, or after every major meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any sugary snacks before bed), you should not run the risk of overbrushing. If your teeth are feeling sensitive, we recommend speaking to your dentist about it. It could be due to diet, or your chosen brand of toothpaste.
Brushing and flossing your teeth helps clear out bacteria that grow quickly in our mouths. It also loosens and removes food particles left over from our meals. If these bacteria and food particles are left to sit in our mouths, they cause the breakdown of our outer tooth layers, seep into cracks and gaps, and cause cavities, decay, and even gum disease.
Some of the problems associated with poor brushing and flossing include:
Believe it or not, there is a right and a wrong way to brush and floss your teeth. When you brush, for example, it is recommended you do so at a 45-degree angle, with a brush that has rounded bristles. Swiping in a circular motion, gently scrub from the edge of your gums up each tooth. Be sure to get the entire surface (front and back) of each tooth. Do not forget the hard-to-reach sides, like the back of your molars, or the tops of each tooth. After your teeth are sparkly and clean, give your tongue a brushing to remove any excess plaque and bacteria.
Like brushing, flossing has a set of guidelines as well. Using a length approximately the measurement of your forearm, wrap the floss around your finger and thumb so you have a 2-inch section to use. Wrap the floss around each tooth, sliding it up and down against each side about three times. Begin each motion at the base of the tooth, careful to slide the floss in under the edge of the gumline if possible. Be gentle, so you do not cut your gums as you floss, and be sure you do not miss any spaces, even the backs of your molars.
Finally, you may want to rinse your mouth with mouthwash to fully wash away any remaining bacteria living in your mouth. Some choose to rinse with water. Whatever you rinse with, you will find it helps to remove any particles that have come loose during flossing.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of flossing and brushing? Li Family Dental is here to help you manage your oral hygiene. Our wide selection of dental services is constantly being updated and optimized to best help our clients here in Etobicoke, ON.