How to Brush and Floss Your Teeth Properly

How do I brush my teeth?

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where the teeth and gums meet.
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Brush the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Use the “toe” of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.
Image of Brushing Teeth

How do I floss my teeth?

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the sides of each tooth, moving the floss with up and down motions.
  • Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.
  • Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth!
Image of Flossing Teeth

Changing your toothbrush

Cold and flu season never ends and, if you want to stay healthy, practicing good hygiene habits is more important than ever. This includes good toothbrush hygiene.

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush at least every three to four months. When bristles become frayed and worn with use, cleaning effectiveness decreases. Toothbrushes will wear out more rapidly depending on factors unique to each patient. Check brushes often for this type of wear and replace more frequently if needed. Children’s toothbrushes often need to be replaced more frequently than adult brushes.

Other best practices for toothbrush hygiene include:

  • Do not share toothbrushes. Sharing a toothbrush could result in an exchange of body fluids and/or microorganisms between the users of the toothbrush, placing the individuals involved at an increased risk for infections. This practice could be a particular concern for persons with compromised immune systems or existing infectious diseases.
  • Thoroughly rinse toothbrushes with tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Store the brush in an upright position if possible and allow the toothbrush to air-dry until used again. If more than one brush is stored in the same holder or area, keep the brushes separated to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air.

Source: American Dental Association