Articles Brushing and flossing advice by your Harley Street dentist

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The main purpose of brushing and flossing is to rid the mouth of the bacteria and food debris that if left to fester will develop into harmful plaque and tartar. It can take just 24 hours for bacteria to develop into plaque and 72 hours for plaque to develop into tartar; and tartar is only removable by a professional cleaning. When plaque and tartar are left to form on the teeth it puts your teeth at risk of problems such as cavities; tooth decay and gum disease.

Whilst most of us will brush twice daily without fail, the fact is that many of us do not do the job effectively enough to achieve maximum protection against such dental problems and something a few more of us will do is drop the flossing completely. Flossing – although a finicky and time-consuming job – is as important as brushing because flossing does the same job between your teeth that brushing does on the outer surfaces. Put simply, failing to floss means you are only cleaning the visible half of your teeth and so your teeth remain at risk despite your brushing efforts.

A good basic routine would involve: three minutes brushing morning and evening making sure you cover every surface of the teeth as well as the tongue; brushing in a firm but gentle manner going back and forth in circular motions taking care not to scrub which can damage gums and tooth enamel. Flossing should be carried out at least once daily and ALWAYS at night taking about 5 minutes to do a thorough job; you should be careful to clean between every pair of teeth, not forgetting the back of the back ones; you should get into a rhythm going back and forth in an up and down motion and remember to clean the area below the gum line. If you take the time to do these very basic things on a daily basis then your oral health is less likely to deteriorate.

Just as it is paramount to perfect your dental hygiene routine; it is important that you teach your children the correct ways of practising their routine at an early age. A child’s teeth require brushing twice daily – just as yours do – from the very moment they start to show. Flossing should also be done from the moment your child has two teeth that touch. Getting your child into this routine at an early age will help them to accept the importance of their oral hygiene routine when they are old enough to do the job themselves. A child should not be responsible for his or her own oral hygiene until they are around six or seven years old – this is the age dentists believe a child has developed the coordination to do a thorough job.

Making sure your oral hygiene routine is as effective as can be is your responsibility and if you spend three minutes every morning and night brushing your teeth incorrectly then you may as well be spending those three minutes doing the job properly. A dentist or hygienist can help you in making sure everything about your dental hygiene routine is perfect; your technique; your tools; your regularity; and getting this right will help maintain your oral health for years to come.

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