Basic oral hygiene practices



Brushing technique

Place bristles along the gum line at a 45-degree angle. Bristles should contact both the tooth surface and the gum line.

Gently brush the outer tooth surfaces of two to three teeth using a vibrating back and forth rolling motion. Move brush to the next group of two to three teeth and repeat.

Maintain a 45-degree angle with bristles contacting the tooth surface and gum line. Gently brush and using back, forth and rolling motion along all of the inner tooth surfaces.

Tilt brush vertically behind the front teeth. Make several up and down strokes using the front half of the brush. Place the brush against the biting surface of the teeth & use a gentle back and forth scrubbing motion.

Brush the tongue from back to front to remove ador-producing bacteria. Pass the tongue on the surface of all teeth to feel if the surface is smooth. If not then brushing again!

Store the brush in a dry place facing upward for the water to go down from the bristles.

Child’s teeth

The eight to 10 hours your child is asleep gives bacteria lots of time to feast on food particles left on the teeth and produce enamel-eating acid.

The flow of saliva in the mouth also is lower at night so food is less likely to be wasted off the teeth.

The technique for brushing your child’s teeth is the same whether you do it or he or she does it.

If your child is too young to do it him or himself, it may be easiest to cradle his or her head in your one arm while keeping your other hand free to brush.

Place the tooth brush alongside the teeth. The bristles should be at a 45-degree angle to the gum line.

Gently move the brush in a small circular motion cleaning one tooth at time. Be sure to have a system so you don’t miss any teeth.

For instance, you might start with the bottom back tooth and work your way to front. Then repeat on the opposite side of the mouth before switching to the top teeth.

Brush across the chewing surfaces, making sure the bristles get into the grooves and fissures. Clean the side of the teeth that face the tongue using the circular motion.

Again, start in the back and work your way forward. Remember to brush the inside of the top teeth, too.

Brush your child’s tongue lightly to remove bacteria and keep breath smelling good. Have your child rinse his or her mouth with water.

Remember, good oral hygiene is an important part of your child’s overall health. Your child can get off to a good start by:

l seeing a dentist regularly;

l brushing twice a day and flossing at night before bedtime at home;

l getting the right amount of fluoride; and

l eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.

Type of tooth brush

Most dental professionals agree that a soft round-bristled brush is best for removing plague and debris from your teeth. Small-headed (tapering end) brushes are also preferable, since they can better reach all areas of the mouth, including hard-to-reach back teeth.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?

You should replace your toothbrush when it begins to show wear (bristles no longer straight) or every three months, whichever comes first.

It is also very important to change tooth brushes after you have had a cold, since the bristles can collect germs that can lead to re-infection.

Toothbrushes are not supposed to be shared between people.


This is used for the removal of plaque in the inter-proximal (between the teeth) areas.

Proper flossing removes plaque and food particles in places where a tooth brush cannot easily reach — under the gum line and between your teeth.


Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with. Use about 18” of floss, leaving an inch or two to work with. 

Holding the floss tight between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up and down between your teeth. Gently curve the floss around the base each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gum line.

Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue.

Gently follow the curves of your teeth. Be sure to clean beneath the gum line, but avoid snapping the floss on the gums.

Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth. To remove the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth.

Flossing is recommended on a once a basis and should be done throughout the mouth.

Nylon floss (or multifilament) is available in waxed and unwaxed. This type of floss is composed of many strands of nylon — it may sometimes tear or shred, especially between teeth with tight points.

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