There are many things that you can do away from the dental office to help control bacteria and plaque to keep your mouth healthy. Brushing, flossing, mouth rinses and maintaining good nutrition can help keep your mouth healthy in between dental visits.

Brushing

Brushing your teeth is something that you should do everyday! Using a soft-bristled brush can help remove food particles, plaque and other debris from your teeth. If you choose not to use a soft-bristled brush, electric toothbrushes have become an option for many. Choosing a proper toothbrush will help you brush those hard to reach places. It is important to brush twice a day, once in the morning and once before you go to bed for two minutes each time.

To properly brush, use about a pea size about of toothpaste. There are many types of toothpaste and choosing the right one for you is important. Toothpaste varieties range from those designed for sensitivity to those used for tartar protection. Begin by placing the toothbrush at a 45 degree angles to the gums. Use small and gentle circular motions so you are cleaning the surface of the teeth and gently massaging your gums. Proper brushing takes two minutes, so set a timer, stopwatch or even sing a song to ensure that you are brushing for a long enough time. For hard to reach areas in the back and inside surfaces of the teeth, use the tip of the toothbrush. Brushing your tongue can also help remove bacteria and leave your breath smelling fresher.

Replacement of your toothbrush should occur every 2-3 months or when your toothbrush bristles start showing signs of wear. Toothbrushes should also be replaced after illness to prevent from reinfecting yourself.

Flossing

Brushing alone does not reach all areas of the mouth. The areas in between teeth cannot be accessed with a toothbrush and therefore flossing is needed. Flossing helps clean and prevent the formation of plaque in between teeth and underneath the gum line.

To properly floss, use about 15 inches of floss and wrap it around your middle finger and leave about 2 inches of floss to work with. Use your thumbs and index fingers to help guide the floss in between the teeth and slide it between the gum and teeth, forming a V motion. The floss should clean underneath the gum line, but avoid forcing it down further, which causes damage to the gum tissue.

Mouthrinses

Mouthrinses are another way to keep your teeth healthy and your breath fresh. Though it does not replace brushing and flossing, rinsing can help after meals when a toothbrush is not readily available.