Proper brushing and flossing are crucial to maintaining good oral health. Brushing and flossing help you avoid a number of dental problems, including tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, halitosis (bad breath) and staining of the teeth. Our dentist and team have provided some basic instructions on brushing and flossing techniques for you here.

How to Brush

You should brush your teeth at least twice each day, using an ADA®-approved toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. The toothbrush should be soft bristled and have a small head. It is recommended that you switch out your toothbrush for a new one every three months, as the bristles wear and become less effective over time. You may also want to consider using an electric toothbrush, which has proven to be more effective than a manual toothbrush at cleaning teeth.

When you brush your teeth, you should:

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to where the gums and teeth meet.
  2. Brush every surface of the tooth — the front, the back and the chewing surfaces.
  3. Use back-and-forth motions to gently brush all surfaces.
  4. Do not scrub or apply pressure.
  5. Make it a goal to brush for 2 minutes.
  6. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove fungi, food and debris.


How to Floss

Flossing is an important part of your oral health routine. It cleans between the teeth and below the gumline, removing food and debris and preventing bacteria from accumulating in those areas where the toothbrush is unable to reach. Flossing aids in the prevention of cavities and gum disease.

When you floss, we recommend that you:

  1. Use a piece of floss about 18 inches long.
  2. Wrap one end around your middle finger on each hand until the hands are two to three inches apart.
  3. Gently move the floss between the teeth toward the gumline.
  4. Curve the floss in a C-shape around each individual tooth.
  5. Move the floss up and down several times to remove plaque and debris between the teeth.
  6. Do not pop the floss in and out or floss aggressively, as this could cut your gums.


Additional Hygiene Instructions


Mouth rinses are another great option in maintaining optimal oral health and good breath. Most mouth rinses provide fluoride, which helps strengthen the enamel and contains antimicrobial properties that help fight the bad bacteria that leads to gum disease and tooth decay.

Another option similar to flossing is a Waterpik®. It uses high pressure streams of water to flush food and debris out from between the teeth. It is not a replacement for floss but can help in hard to reach places.

Lastly, are products containing xylitol, which are great for people who suffer from dry mouth. Dry mouth creates an environment where acid-producing bacteria attack the teeth, leading to decay. Xylitol combats this by stimulating saliva, which acts as a buffer to these acids.

If you have questions about brushing, flossing or dental care products, please call our office in Spokane, Washington, at 509-327-8681. Dr. Gallegos and his team will be able to provide instructions on the best brushing and flossing techniques and recommend appropriate oral hygiene aids as needed.