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of the tooth to scrape off plaque. Rub
the floss against all sides of the tooth.
Unwind to fresh floss as you progress to
the next tooth.
• Keep it up.
If you have trouble getting
floss through your teeth, try the waxed
variety. If it’s hard to manipulate the
floss, use a floss holder or an interdental
cleaner - such as a dental pick or stick
designed to clean between the teeth.
Other oral health care
In addition to daily brushing and flossing,
consider using an antimicrobial mouth
rinse to help reduce plaque between your
To remove food particles from your teeth,
you might try an oral irrigator - a device
that aims a stream of water at your teeth.
Resist the temptation to use toothpicks or
other objects that could injure your gums.
Keep in mind, however, that an oral
irrigator doesn’t replace daily brushing
and flossing, since it doesn’t remove
When to see the
To prevent gum disease and other oral
health problems, schedule regular dental
cleanings and exams - generally once or
twice a year. In the meantime, contact
your dentist if you notice any signs or
symptoms that could suggest oral health
problems, such as:
Red, tender or swollen
• Gums that bleed when you brush or
• Gums that begin pulling away from
your teeth
• Loose permanent teeth
• Changes in the way your top and
bottom teeth align with each other
• Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold
• Persistent bad breath or an unusual
taste in your mouth
Remember, early detection and treatment
of problems with your gums, teeth and
mouth can help ensure a lifetime of good
oral health.
them in closed containers, which can
encourage the growth of bacteria.
• Know when to replace your
Invest in a new
toothbrush or a replacement head
for your electric or battery-operated
toothbrush every three to four months -
or sooner if the bristles become frayed.
Flossing for oral health
You can’t reach the tight spaces between
your teeth or under your gumline with
a toothbrush. That’s why daily flossing is
important. When you floss:
• Don’t skimp.
Break off about 18
inches (46 centimeters) of dental floss.
Wind most of the floss around the
middle finger on one hand, and the
rest around the middle finger on the
other hand - leaving about 1 inch (3
centimeters) to floss your first tooth.
• Take it one tooth at a time.
your thumbs and forefingers to gently
pull the floss from the gumline to the top