Brushing and Flossing 101

Practicing good dental hygiene lays the foundation for healthy teeth and a beautiful smile. While Oregon City family dentist Dr. Johnson and his staff can help keep your teeth clean during routine checkups, great oral health requires a day-to-day commitment. By brushing and flossing daily, your teeth and gums remain free of harmful plaque and bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.


The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste. Proper brushing technique requires spending a minimum of two minutes working all around your mouth. Use short, soft strokes, while focusing on brushing along the gum line and the hard-to-reach teeth in the back of your mouth.

Start by brushing the visible parts of your upper and lower teeth, and then clean the inner areas of both sections of your mouth. Pay special attention to the areas around any fillings or crowns. Finish brushing by cleaning the chewing surfaces of your molars. To help fight bad breath, be sure to also gently brush your tongue.

Most dentists agree a toothbrush with soft bristles allows you to remove plague from your teeth without irritating your gums or damaging your teeth’s enamel. The head of your toothbrush should be small enough to easily fit inside your mouth, while large enough to cover more than one tooth with each brushing motion. Replace your toothbrush every three months or when the bristles begin to show wear by fanning out.


While brushing removes plague that builds up along the gum line and teeth, flossing removes food particles and plague that your toothbrush cannot reach. Cleaning under the gum line and between your teeth is just as important in preventing tooth decay and gum disease as brushing.

To correctly floss, begin with roughly 12 inches of floss wrapped around the middle finger of each hand. While pulling the floss tight, slide the floss in an up and down motion between your teeth. Carefully wrap the floss around the base of each tooth, and make sure you get underneath the gum line. Use only a gentle motion, as snapping or jerking the floss may cause you to irritate your gums.

Use a clean section by unwrapping the floss from your fingers as you work your way between each tooth. Nylon floss comes in multiple flavors and is available in both waxed and unwaxed versions. Once used, floss should be thrown away and not reused.