By Andrea Brown, Herald Writer
It’s the poster you stare at for an hour while you’re a bibbed captive in the dental hygienist chair.
There’s a big smiling tooth and pretty lettering that reads: “You don’t have to floss all your teeth … just the ones you want to keep.”
Catchy, for sure. But there’s truth to the writing on the wall.
As weird as it might seem to put string in your mouth and lasso it around your teeth, it works.
“The only way to clean between teeth is by dental floss,” said Dr. Bob Hughes of Hughes Dental Group in Everett.
Start flossing children’s teeth at about 18 months, he said, and assist as long as needed.
When his kids were little, Hughes said he’d floss their back teeth while they were “in a TV trance.”
Don’t worry. You don’t have to go quite that far.
Those $1 little plastic cubes of string can save you a bundle and save your teeth. Figure 18 inches a day of floss not to keep the dentist away (you still need to go), but from lecturing you.
Brushing is the main act of the dental regimen.
Hughes said the average person brushes for 90 seconds, of which the last 60 are spent daydreaming.
“It’s a boring sport,” Hughes admits.
He recommends a six-minute workout: Two minutes on bottom. Two minutes on top. Two minutes with floss and wooden or plastic gum plaque-remover picks (these are not the same as toothpicks).
Use an electric toothbrush with a timer. These are available in models for tots to adults.
Most people by habit start with the outside of the upper teeth and then lose steam.
Start inside bottom. “Pay attention to the nooks and crannies inside the lower teeth,” Hughes said.
Once you get the routine down, you can daydream while you do it.
How to have happy teeth
1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. When you brush, don’t rush.
2. Use the proper equipment. Use fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably or an electric or battery-operated toothbrush.
3. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle, aiming the bristles toward the area where your tooth meets your gum.
4. Keep equipment clean. Rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing. Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air-dry until using again. Don’t cap or cover toothbrushes; this can cause the growth of bacteria.
5. Get a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three to four months.
6. Don’t skimp with floss. Wind most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the middle finger on the other hand. Grip the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. When the floss reaches your gumline, curve it against one tooth. Take it one tooth at a time.
7. If you find it hard to handle floss, use an interdental cleaner, such as a special wooden or plastic pick, stick or brush designed to clean between the teeth.