Brush & Floss - Namibian Dental Association

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Brush & Floss

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Q: How often should I brush and floss?

A: Brushing and flossing is necessary to control the plaque and bacteria (germs) that cause dental disease.

Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums.  The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay.  Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar).  If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease.

Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing and flossing.

Tooth-brushing ā€“ Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with soft bristle brush and toothpaste.

  • Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, brush gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.

  • Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.

  • Use the tip of the brush head to clean the insides of the front teeth.

  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and to freshen your breath.

  • Electric toothbrushes are also recommended.  They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently.  Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.

Flossing ā€“ Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline.  Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

  • Take 30-40cm of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 5cm of floss between the hands.

  • Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.

  • Curve the floss into a ā€œCā€ shape around each tooth and under the gumline.  Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

  • Floss holders can be used if you have difficulty using regular floss.

  • Superfloss is used to clean under fixed bridges and beneath and around orthodontic braces. Ask your dentist or oral hygienist to demonstrate!

Rinse your mouth with water after brushing and/or flossing. This will help to remove remaining particles of food and plaque, loosened by brushing and flossing. If you are unable to brush after meals, rinse your mouth properly with water or a mouthwash to remove as much as possible of remaining food particles.

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