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Brushing Checkup: How to Optimize At-Home Oral Care

Have you ever gone to the dentist for your semi-annual exam and left stunned at what your dentist told you about the condition of your mouth? Whether it’s surprise cavities, gingivitis, an abscess or a root canal, bad news at the dentist can sometimes come out of left field, especially if you think you’re doing a great job caring for your teeth at home. If you’re concerned about your oral health and want to make sure you’re doing the best you can to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and worse, follow these tips for your healthiest mouth ever!

Brush, brush, brush

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times before: two minutes, twice a day. But that’s the bare minimum you should be brushing your teeth. Ideally, you should be brushing after every meal, but most people don’t have the time or space for that kind of brushing on a daily basis. After all, who wants to brush their teeth in a shared work bathroom? If you absolutely cannot brush your teeth three times a day, two should be fine, but make sure you don’t skip a brushing, especially your pre-bedtime brushing. 

If you can, aim for longer than the two-minute minimum and try for three minutes. It may seem like a long time, but three minutes for an adult with 32 teeth is only about 5.5 seconds per tooth! Just remember to get all the surfaces of your teeth, including the back teeth, which many people forget about.


Sometimes it seems like flossing is as unpopular as it is important. It can be hard to reach the back teeth, and if you have significant crowding, it can be difficult to get between teeth that are packed tightly together. Despite these challenges, flossing is one of the best things we can do for our overall health. Flossing not only helps to remove bits of food and plaque stuck between the teeth that could cause cavities, but it also helps keep the gums clean and free of harmful bacteria that can cause everything from periodontal disease and tooth loss to heart disease! 

Want to know just how important flossing is? Brushing your teeth removes about 60 percent of the harmful bacteria in your mouth. Flossing removes the other 40 percent. That means if you’re not flossing, you’re only getting your mouth about half as clean as you should be!

Choose the right brush for your mouth 

When it comes to toothbrushes, the softer the bristles, the better. Aim for a soft- or medium-bristled brush and save the hard bristles for your tile grout. Softer bristles are kinder and gentler to your tooth enamel, which can be permanently scarred and scratched if you brush too hard.

Don’t brush too hard

Remember, it won’t matter how gentle your bristles are if you’re brushing too hard, so be sure to apply gentle pressure to your teeth as you brush. Don’t grip too hard on the handle; you should be holding the brush loosely enough that it can be easily knocked from your hand.

And … rinse (if you want)

Some people like to finish their brushing routine by rinsing with either mouthwash or water, but what you rinse with is entirely up to you. Rinsing with water is fine, especially if your water supply is fluoridated. Using a mouthwash can leave your mouth feeling fresh, but if you use a prescription toothpaste, you can rinse away the fluoride left behind on your teeth. 

For patients with prescription toothpaste, we recommend you brush your teeth twice: once followed by rinsing to remove any particles that may be left behind, and another time to deposit fluoride onto your already-clean teeth.

If you have any questions about brushes, brushing techniques, flossing or any other oral care concerns, give Dr. Hill’s office a call at 469-640-9550.

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