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Home Care

How to Brush Teeth

Home Care | Holland Family Dental | Owatonna DentistBy now, brushing your teeth is second nature. And that's a good thing because one of the best ways to avoid a host of dental diseases and complications is to brush your teeth at least twice a day. But for tooth brushing to be truly effective, you have to know how to brush properly.

Most of us were just kids when we were first taught how to brush our teeth. Our parents may have done a great job teaching us, but it's always a good idea to brush up on your brushing techniques.

For truly clean teeth, dentists recommend that you brush for at least two minutes -- not 15 or 30 seconds -- two whole minutes. An easy way to make sure you're brushing long enough is to buy an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer. There are also children's toothbrushes that light up when it's time for your child to stop brushing. However you time it, don't skimp on the length of time you brush -- the two minutes are vital!

Tips on how to brush properly:

  • Use short, back-and-forth and up-and-down strokes.
  • Pay special attention to your gum line, back teeth and areas around any tooth filling or restoration you might have.
  • Clean the inner and outer surfaces of your upper teeth first, and then clean your lower teeth.
  • Brush or scrape your tongue to help prevent bad breath.

Don't forget to floss! Brushing and flossing is like peanut butter and jelly -- when you think of one you can't help but think of the other. It may seem tedious, but flossing every day is one of the best things you can do for your oral health.


How to Floss

Flossing seems easy enough, but you'll want to make sure you're doing it right to maximize the benefits of all your effort. Compare your flossing techniques to the steps below, and make adjustments to your routine wherever necessary.

  • Break off just over an arm's length of floss.
  • Loosely wind about six inches of floss around your middle finger and use your thumb to hold it in place.
  • Hold and straighten the floss with the thumb and pointer finger of your other hand.
  • Use a gentle back and forth motion to guide the floss between your teeth.
  • Make sure to never "snap" the floss into your gums.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it against your tooth and gently slide it under your gums and then away from your gum line.
  • Wind the used floss around your middle finger as you go.

Learning how to floss teeth properly can be the difference between a clean, healthy mouth and one riddled with tooth decay and gum disease. Keep in mind that while there are no guarantees when it comes to your dental health, solid oral hygiene habits, combined with regular dental visits, is the best insurance your teeth have.



It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

Your mouthwash should contain directions for usage. Follow the directions and use only the proper amount indicated on the label to reduce the possibility of side effects. Most mouthwashes should be swished around the oral cavity for 30 seconds and spit out. Avoid swallowing mouthwash, as the ingredients can upset your stomach. After rinsing, you should not eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes, as to not diminish its effectiveness. For lasting results, don't smoke -- smoking not only causes bad breath but also ruins the effectiveness of mouthwash.


Use other dental aids as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist: Interdental brushes, rubber tip stimulators, tongue cleaners, irrigation devices, fluoride, medicated rinses, etc., can all play a role in good dental home care.