A: Brushing twice a day is recommended for good dental health. Brushing after every meal may be even better, but too much brushing or brushing too soon after eating can actually harm the teeth by wearing down the tooth enamel. After eating, you should wait at least 20 minutes before brushing so that the teeth have time to build up enamel that was weakened by the acids in the foods you ate.
A: No toothbrush can get between teeth. Flossing is the only effective way to remove food particles that get stuck between the teeth. If you don’t floss at least once a day, food particles will remain and allow bacteria to feed on sugars and grow. This can cause plaque, a bacterial buildup, to form. Plaque can irritate the gums, and if it is not effectively removed, it can harden to tartar. Irritated and inflamed gums are a sign of gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease.
A: Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and can reduce the chance of getting cavities. The American Dental Association recommends that children and adults use fluoride toothpaste.
How to Floss
A: Some brands of mouthwash contain agents that can fight germs, reduce bad breath and reduce plaque. While these antibacterial mouthwashes can offer some defense against gum disease, they cannot completely prevent it or cure it. Mouthwash should never be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing. Mouthwash can remove bad breath, but chronic bad breath is a sign of gum disease or another oral health problem.
A: Dental exams twice a year will allow your dentist to catch signs of gum disease in its early stages so that treatment is simple. Remember that even if you brush and floss regularly, you can still get gum disease. Gum disease can be caused by illness, some types of medications, hormone changes or genetics.