What to Do and What Not to Do When Cleaning Your Teeth

Dr. Khetani is a Santa Clara dentist that emphasizes the need for proper home oral care in addition to regular dental cleanings to keep your teeth and gums in good shape. Both are actually needed to keep gum disease at bay.

Many people think that cleaning their teeth at home is a simple affair that doesn’t take any particular training. As long as they throw some toothpaste on a brush and scrub it over their teeth, they figure they are doing an adequate job, regardless of how long they scrub or the technique they use.

Granted, in most cases that is better than nothing at all. However, there are certain procedures that are very effective, others that are rather inadequate and a few that can actually cause some harm along with the benefit. Knowing what to do and what not to do when cleaning the teeth can make a significant difference in how your overall oral health is maintained.

Let’s start with the toothbrush. Even though there are brushes sold with soft, medium and firm bristles, the best one to use is a soft-bristled brush. A soft-bristled brush can move around the tooth and get into the spaces between the teeth much better than even a medium. Soft bristles can also reach slightly below the gum line and are gentler on the gums than the others.

Medium, or worse, hard bristles, cannot reach these curved areas and can scrape the gums too aggressively, making them bleed. Too much aggressive brushing can eventually cause your gums to recede from your teeth, exposing your roots and leaving them subject to damage and decay.

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, and when you do so, harder is not necessarily better. Consistent but gentle brushing through the mouth for about two minutes in each brushing session is optimum. The exact method you use to brush all surfaces of the teeth is best laid out here:


And one last note on toothbrushes. Many people hold onto the same brush for far too long. When the bristles become bent, discolored or dirty-looking, it’s time to get a new brush. Frayed bristles don’t have the cleaning power they had when they were their normal shape. 3 to 4 months per brush is about the limit on how long you should keep one. It would be best to always have 2 on hand, and buy a new brush right after you only have one left.

Now, what about flossing? The main thing to know about that is that you need to do it at least once a day. Twice would better (once in the morning, once in the evening before bed). Floss is the only thing that can really remove the plaque that rests in those areas between the teeth that toothbrushes cannot reach.

Some people will use tooth picks and think that is enough, as it gets out food that is stuck between the teeth. But only floss will get the actual surface material that sits on the teeth.

Another effective tool to remove that plaque between the teeth are those little “between the teeth” brushes that are sold in the oral care section of the grocery store alongside the floss. They come in different widths and you can use the width that works best for each area of the mouth.

Dr. Khetani gives personal instruction on proper brushing and flossing techniques as part of her care during your cleaning appointments.  She makes sure you are armed with the right tools and procedures to maintain a bright and beautiful smile. To help you know where to put extra concentration in your home oral care efforts, she’ll even show you on our computer monitor where your heavy plaque build-up is in your mouth.

Call us today if you are in need of a dental cleaning, and take advantage of Dr. Khetani’s instructional help as well as her gentle care.