How to Brush and Floss Like a Pro

How to Brush and Floss Like a Pro

By Jason Kim, BS, RDH, Dental Hygienist, and Jillian Hartman, BSDH, RDH, Dental Hygienist

Have you ever had a dental cavity or bleeding gums, despite how diligent you were about brushing and flossing every day? Here’s a secret – keeping your mouth healthy isn’t just about frequency of brushing and flossing; it’s also about proper technique. Take a look at our quick tips below so you can be sure every second you spend brushing and flossing is making a difference.


  • Angle the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to reach under the gumline. Toothbrush bristles are designed to go beneath the gumline to keep these areas clean. Otherwise, gum “pockets” can form and get filled with bacteria and food debris, which can lead to inflammation, bleeding and sometimes infection.
  • Use a soft, up and down, circular motion when brushing.
  • Don’t forget to brush the chewing surfaces (tops) of the back teeth.
  • Brush the surface of the tongue, which can be reservoir for bacteria that cause cavities and bad breath.
  • Use an electronic toothbrush, which is designed to be overall more effective and efficient. Again, place the brush at a 45-degree angle while using a simple rolling motion.


  • Don’t just pass in and out between two teeth. This won’t sufficiently clean the area, which can lead to a cavity or bleeding gums.
  • Slide the floss in between two teeth and make a C-shape, essentially “hugging” one side of the tooth. Move the floss up and down alongside the tooth, as if you are wiping down an object. As you do so, gradually move the floss down to the bottom of the gum pocket.
  • Use different types of floss for braces, bridges, lingual bars, etc. Ortho floss can clean areas hindered by braces, and super floss can clean areas around bridges and retainers.

Additional tips for a healthy mouth…

Proper brushing and flossing are crucial, but you also need to watch what you eat. Cavities occur when carbohydrates (sugars) are consumed by bacteria in our mouth and create a byproduct that results in an acidic environment. Acidity will destroy our teeth and cause cavities to form.

Here are a few diet tips to keep your teeth cavity-free:

  • Sip water throughout the day to wash away sugars we consume from food and reduce acidity in the mouth.
  • Do not sip on sodas or juices over long periods of time. Even though fruits are a good source of vitamins and fiber, they still contain simple sugar, which plays an important role in the cavity formation process.
  • Consume complex sugars, which are harder for bacteria to consume, so they don’t rapidly increase acidity in the mouth. Examples of complex sugar foods include potatoes, brown rice, oats, and wheat bread.

Lastly, go to the dentist every 6 months!

Routine dental cleanings are important to keep the teeth and gums healthy. Your dental hygienist has special instruments that aid in plaque, tarter, and stain removal, especially in areas the toothbrush can’t adequately access.

Learn more about Mary’s Center’s dental services and make an appointment here.