How to brush and floss your teeth properly

Contributor: Pam Arar

Health Partners Dental Hygienist

Posted: Jul 17 2023

Having a good routine when it comes to brushing and flossing your teeth is important to prevent decay and promote good oral health. We spoke to Health Partners Dental Hygienist Pam Arar on the top things hygienists want you to know about keeping your teeth and mouth clean.

The best way to brush your teeth

Brush for 2 minutes, twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush.

Use short, gentle strokes, brushing away from the gums and holding your toothbrush at a 45° angle to the tooth. Pay extra attention to where the tooth meets the gums and back teeth.

Have a routine.

Follow a routine to make sure each tooth and each surface is cleaned properly. Here’s an example: Clean the outer surface of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth. Clean the inner surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth. Clean the chewing surface. If there are any areas that still feel rough or furry, continue to brush until smooth.

Don’t forget to brush your tongue.

‘The surface of the tongue is covered with tiny filaments or hairs, which means viruses, bacteria or fungal organisms build up over time and may cause infections,’ says Pam. ‘So after you’ve brushed your teeth and your gums, make sure to brush your tongue as well.’

Why is flossing important?

Flossing removes plaque and debris from between your teeth and gums that your toothbrush simply can’t reach.

How to make flossing a habit.

‘If you’re finding it hard to remember to floss, try putting up a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, keeping floss in sight like on your bathroom counter or even setting yourself a calendar reminder,’ says Pam.

‘Choose a time of day that suits your schedule. The most important thing is that you’re flossing once a day consistently.’

How to floss properly:

  1. Remove about a 45cm strip of floss from the dispenser.
  2. Wind the floss around your middle finger of each hand, leaving a 2–3cm section of floss open for flossing.
  3. Use your index fingers to push the floss between your teeth.
  4. Floss your top teeth first, then the bottom. Be careful not to push too hard and hurt your gums.
  5. Move the floss up and down against your tooth and up and around the gum line. The floss should form a C-shape around the tooth as you floss.
  6. Use new sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
  7. Floss between each tooth as well as at the back of the last tooth.

Visiting the dentist for regular dental check-ups is the best way to help:

  • Keep teeth and gums healthy.
  • Find issues early to prevent bigger dental problems in the future.
  • Give yourself a bright healthy and more confident smile.

Posted: Jul 17 2023


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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