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At age 11, J.J. (Jukka) Perkiomaki left Finland to move with his family to Astoria, Oregon.

Oral Hygiene: Brushing, Flossing, and Mouthwash


Implementing a proper oral hygiene regimen is an important part of your oral health. Unfortunately, many people are misinformed when it comes to proper cleaning techniques, or simply uninterested in taking care of their teeth. At J.J. Perkiomaki DMD PC, we believe that patient education is the foundation for excellent oral health. The following information is designed to help you improve your oral hygiene and maintain the bright, beautiful smile you deserve!

How to Brush

When you brush your teeth, you should keep in mind why you are doing it. The goal is to remove as much plaque as possible. Plaque is a thin biofilm that constantly forms on and around the teeth. It contains the harmful bacteria that eat away at your enamel and causes tooth decay. By removing the plaque, you are minimizing your chances of developing cavities.

When you brush, place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Remember to be gentle, as vigorous brushing can lead to gum irritation. Be sure get the inside, outside, and top of every tooth using short, back-and-forth strokes. It is important to clean the soft tissues as well, including your tongue and gum line. This will eliminate more bacteria and reduce bad odors.

How to Floss

While brushing is an excellent way to remove the majority of plaque, it cannot be completely clean in between your teeth. This is where flossing comes into play. Daily flossing is a must as it disrupts the colonies of bacteria that form along the gum line. It also provides physical stimulation to the gum tissues, which prevents gum disease.

To properly floss, dispense about a foot and a half of floss. Next, wrap most of the floss around your middle fingers. Then, use your index fingers to guide the floss gently in between the teeth. Gently move the floss in a back-and-forth motion, while making sure the floss curves around the bottom our your teeth. As you move from tooth to tooth, use a fresh area of the floss. Be sure to avoid using too much force, as this can cause cuts or scrapes.

How to Use Mouthwash

While mouthwash does not replace a regular oral hygiene routine, it can provide extra protection against the acids produced by the bacteria in plaque. There are two types of mouthwash that serve different purposes— cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwash is primarily used to combat halitosis and freshen the breath. Therapeutic mouthwash has active ingredients that improve your oral health. Talk with Dr. Perkiomaki to see which mouthwash is right for you.

In general, mouthwash should be used after you complete your daily brushing and flossing, especially if you are prone to cavities. When using mouthwash, be sure to use the right amount, swish like you mean it, spit, and wait at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything. Incorporating mouthwash into your oral hygiene regimen is not essential, but it can make a difference if you want fresher breath and stronger teeth.

How Often Should I Brush and Floss?

Removing plaque from the surfaces of your teeth and gums is a constant battle. The general rule of thumb is to brush twice a day for two minutes each, especially before going to bed. Be sure to use an ADA approved soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste containing fluoride. Fluoride is an effective mineral that strengthens your enamel by supplementing the process of remineralization.

Flossing is a slightly different story. You only need to clean in between your teeth once a day using floss, preferably at night. We may recommend a floss pick if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

Should I use an Electric Toothbrush?

Dental health experts agree that, regardless of which brush you use, brush and flossing is the best way to prevent tooth decay. Using a traditional toothbrush does not mean you will have worse oral hygiene than someone who uses an electric one. Simply put, it’s all about how you use it. With the proper technique, there is no real difference between an electric and traditional toothbrush. However, an electric toothbrush can make it easier for you to thoroughly clean all your teeth. It’s as easy as placing the bristles of the brush on your teeth and gums and allowing the brush to do its job. Powered devices may also help people who have trouble physically moving their brushes in and around their mouth.

Should I use a Floss Pick?

A floss pick is an individual, disposable piece of plastic that holds a small length of floss. Many of our patients prefer them over regular floss because they are easier to use, especially when cleaning your posterior teeth (molars and premolars). Also, studies have shown that floss picks are just as effective as traditional floss when used correctly.

The decision to use a floss pick or traditional floss depends on what works best for you. In other words, it’s all about personal preference. Some people find floss picks much easier to use, while others prefer traditional floss. As long as you are implementing an excellent oral hygiene regimen, it does not matter what type of flossing tool you prefer.

How do I Choose the Best Toothbrush, Floss, Toothpaste, and Mouthwash?

With so many products on the market, you may find it difficult to decide on the oral appliances you need to maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. While opinions vary, most dental healthcare professionals agree that a soft-bristled toothbrush is best for removing plaque and debris from the teeth and roots. Unless Dr. Perkiomaki recommend otherwise, you should also use an ADA approved toothpaste that contains fluoride. The type of floss and mouthwash you use is really up to personal preference. If you are having troubling deciding which dental products are right for you, you can always consult with us first.

How can I Learn More About Oral Hygiene?

An improved oral hygiene regimen can save your teeth from numerous restorative treatments or even extraction! If you would like to learn more about your oral hygiene, call (503) 292-8996 and schedule your appointment today!

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