Brushing & Flossing


Oregon Dental Association (ODA)



Brushing should start at Birth.  Clean your child's gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water.  As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft age-appropriate sized toothbrush.  Use a "smear" of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age.  For the 2-5 year old, dispense a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child's toothbrushing.  Young children do not have the ability to brush thier teeth effectively on their own. (AAPD)

Brushing Technique: There are various techniques for brushing your teeth. Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay.  Place your brush at a slight angle toward the gums when brushing along the gum line.  Use a gentle touch-it doesn't take much pressure to remove the plaque from your teeth and a vigorous scrubbing could irritate your gums.  Concentrate on cleaning all the surfaces of the teeth.  Brushing your tongue gently can help remove bacteria that cause bad breath. (ADA)

Brushing your teeth is an important part of your oral hygiene routine. For a healthy mouth and smile the ADA recommends you:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
  • Make sure to use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.


For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day.

Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.

Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.


Sometimes just walking down the oral health care aisle in your local store is enough to make your head spin.  Here are some quick and easy ways to narrow your selection:

  • Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance - your assurance that products have met ADA standards of safety and effectiveness.
  • Ask your Dentist or Dental Hygienist to help you select the best products for your needs. Because there are distinctive oral hygiene routines and techniques, some products seem to work better for some individuals than for others.  The BEST brush or interdental cleaner you can buy is the one you will use regularly and properly.
  • Talk to your Dentist or Dental Hygienist about your home care routine and technique- he or she can help you get the job done properly.

Want to know more? Visit and click on the Patients & Consumers content area for more information. (ADA)


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