Keeping your teeth in line

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristopher Little
  • 4th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
Brushing and flossing your teeth can be easy, fast and painless. The benefits of brushing and flossing greatly outweigh the bad effects of not following a correct oral hygiene process. Neglecting your teeth can be costly and painful. It's advised to use preventative measures to avoid potential cavities, infections, root canals and tooth extractions.

The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. A hard toothbrush is not recommended, as it can damage teeth and gums. There are many different sizes and shapes of tooth brushes so, ensure you use one that properly fits your mouth. Toothbrushes should be inspected periodically for frayed or worn bristles, as this could be an indication you are brushing too hard. Brushes should be replaced every three to four months.

Using fluoridated toothpaste, place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums and brush back and forth gently using short strokes. Brush the outer and inner tooth surfaces, chewing surfaces and tongue. Proper brushing should take at least two minutes, so it is recommended to use a timer.

In addition to brushing your teeth, flossing is a critical part of dental hygiene.

Flossing helps clean in-between teeth where toothbrush bristles cannot reach. The gums may hurt and bleed at first, but this should decrease with proper technique in a few weeks. The ADA recommends using 18 inches of floss wrapped around the middle fingers on both hands when flossing. Hold the floss in place with your thumbs and forefingers, then gently place the floss in-between your teeth and move it up and down using a "C" shaped motion.

Following these guidelines can make brushing and flossing your teeth easier.

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