Brushing Basics

Brushing twice a day is important to keeping your teeth and gums healthy and will help you maintain a lifelong smile. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes each time. Ask a parent to set the timer on the microwave, use an egg timer or hum your favorite song to make sure you are brushing for the recommended time period.

Tips to brushing your teeth properly:

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short, tooth-wide strokes.
  • Clean the inner, outer and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue to prevent bad breath.

Flossing Facts

While brushing is very important, you also should floss at least once a day to remove the plaque and sneaky pieces of food that get stuck between your teeth, under the gums or under braces. Flossing every day will help your mouth stay squeaky clean and will keep your smile bright!

Here are some tips to floss the right way:

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss.
  • Wind most of it around your middle finger, and the rest of it around the middle finger of your other hand.
  • Hold the floss tightly between the thumb and index fingers, leaving about an inch of floss in between them.
  • Gently insert the floss between two teeth and slide the floss down to the gumline, using a gentle back and forth motion. Be careful not to force the floss under the gums or snap the floss into the gumline as this could hurt your gums.  
  • Curve the floss around the edge of your tooth in the shape of the letter “C” and slide it up and down the side of each tooth.
  • Repeat the above process between all of your teeth.
  • Remember to floss behind your back teeth.

Cavities and Plaque

Plaque is the sticky substance made up mostly of the germs that cause tooth decay. When plaque sticks to your teeth, harmful acids can eat away at the outer part of the tooth, called the enamel. When your tooth decays, it can develop a hole, called a cavity. Over time, cavities can get bigger and deeper, so it is important to get them fixed right away. To fix a cavity, your dentist will remove the rotted part of your tooth and then fill in the hole with a special material. This is called a filling.

To take good care of your teeth and gums and prevent cavities, PDA recommends the following tips:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Brushing after breakfast and before bedtime is recommended.
  • Floss at least once a day to help remove plaque and food particles that get stuck between your teeth and under your gums.
  • Eat nutritious foods from the five major food groups – meat, dairy, grain, fruits and vegetables. Limit snacking between meals and choose nutritious snacks over sugary ones.
  • Learn about the anatomy of teeth and read about the different types of teeth that make up your smile!