Dental Health: A Guide on How to Clean Your Teeth

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Everyone knows that brushing and flossing your teeth is essential for good dental health and oral hygiene, but how do you ensure that you're doing it correctly? 

Below is a comprehensive guide on how to clean and maintain your teeth to prevent gum disease and keep your teeth healthy and strong. 

An introduction to oral hygiene

It is important to clean your teeth and gums every day to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. There are many ways to clean your teeth, including brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash.

Brushing your teeth

Brushing your teeth removes plaque from your teeth and gums. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva, and if it is not removed, it can harden into tartar, which is more difficult to remove.

It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and combine it with a fluoride toothpaste to help remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup.

Flossing and mouthwash

It’s also important to floss at least once a day, as flossing removes plaque and food particles from between your teeth which a toothbrush cannot reach. 

Mouthwash rinse helps remove plaque and bacteria from your mouth. Be sure to use a mouthwash that contains fluoride.

The different types of toothbrushes

There are many different types of toothbrushes available on the market. Some are designed for specific needs, while others are more general. Here is a look at the different types of toothbrushes:

Manual toothbrushes

Manual toothbrushes are the most common type of toothbrushes and can be found in supermarkets and drug stores. They usually have nylon bristles with a small head. The bristles can be straight or angled.

Electric toothbrushes

These toothbrushes can be powered by batteries or use an electrical outlet. Electrical toothbrushes are usually more effective than battery-powered ones, although the battery-powered versions are often a good motivation for children to brush their teeth more regularly. 

They often have rotating heads that make it easier to clean teeth; in fact, a recent study found that electric toothbrushes are more effective in removing plaque than manual toothbrushes. 

Electric toothbrushes can be more expensive than manual ones, but some people find them to be worth the investment. Popular electric toothbrush brands in South Africa include CariPRO, Oral-B, and Snow.

Interdental brushes

Interdental brushes, or interproximal brushes, have small heads and thin bristles that can reach between teeth to remove plaque and food particles. 

They are often used by people who have braces or other dental devices that make it difficult to reach all areas with a regular toothbrush.

Interdental brushes are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate various-sized gaps between teeth. While some have a longer handle and replaceable brush heads, others are disposable. Most brush manufacturers colour-code their interdental brushes so that it’s easier to choose the right size. 

Water flossers

These devices use a stream of water to remove plaque and food particles from between teeth. Water flossers can be helpful for people who have trouble flossing regularly with string floss.

There are many popular water flossers on the market, such as Waterpik and Oral-B.

How to brush your teeth

Wondering how to clean your teeth properly? There are specific brushing techniques you can use that can help you clean your teeth and keep them clean:

  • Start with the outside surfaces. Brush your teeth gently beginning with the top row. You can slow down and make sure you don't miss any areas by going tooth by tooth. 
  • Make a 45° angle with your brush. To remove any trapped plaque and food particles, brush towards the gum line. Short brushstrokes should be used to gently move the brush back and forth. 
  • Your teeth's root surfaces should be brushed. It can be tempting to forego brushing the insides of your teeth since they are less noticeable, but they are just as susceptible to plaque buildup. Brush the inside surfaces of the teeth back and forth at a 45° angle. 
  • Clean your teeth and chewing surfaces. Remember to brush the tops of your back teeth, where food can easily become lodged, using quick back-and-forth strokes. 
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue. Brushing your tongue can help get rid of microorganisms that cause bad breath.

Here are a few tips on how to brush your teeth properly:

  • Using a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Brushing all surfaces of your teeth, including the backs of your teeth
  • Using gentle circular motions when brushing
  • Spitting out the toothpaste after brushing
  • Rinsing your mouth with water after brushing

Flossing and interdental cleaners

When it comes to keeping your teeth clean, flossing and using interdental cleaners are two of the most important things you can do. Flossing helps remove plaque and bacteria from between your teeth, while interdental cleaners can reach places that brushing alone can't.

Here's a closer look at flossing and interdental cleaners, including how to use them and why they're so important for keeping your teeth clean:

How to floss

Start by wrapping the end of the floss around your middle finger. Then, holding the floss tight against your tooth, slide it up and down in a zigzag motion. 

Be sure to go below the gum line to remove bacteria and plaque. Repeat this process on all of your teeth. Here are some of the benefits of regular flossing:

  • It keeps teeth and gums clean
  • It freshens your breath
  • It may help to reduce cavities
  • It reduces the risk of developing gum disease
  • Lowers the chances of dental health complications later in life

How to use interdental cleaners

There are many different types of interdental cleaners available, but one of the most popular is the Waterpik. To use a Waterpik, simply fill the reservoir with water and direct the stream of water at your teeth. The pressure from the water will help remove plaque and bacteria from between your teeth.

Here are a few tips for using interdental brushes correctly:

  • Make sure you choose the correct brush size.
  • Gently press the brush along the gum line into the space between two teeth.
  • Brush forwards and backwards a few times (unless your dentist tells you otherwise).
  • Carefully remove the brush and then move to the next gap.

To easily reach your back teeth you can insert the brush from the inside, next to the tongue. Or you can choose a longer brush with an angled head.  

Why flossing and interdental cleaners are important

Flossing and using interdental cleaners are both important because they help to effectively remove bacteria from areas that brushing alone can't reach. 

Flossing is a great addition to your daily oral hygiene routine as it helps to remove plaque, which is a sticky film of saliva, food debris, and bacteria which could all cause cavities and gum disease

What are common oral health problems? 

There are a few common oral health problems that people experience. These include cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

Cavities are one of the most common oral health problems. They occur when the enamel on your teeth starts to break down. This can happen because of sugary or acidic drinks, not brushing your teeth properly, or not flossing regularly. 

If you have a cavity, you may notice that your tooth is sensitive to cold or hot drinks, or that there is a hole in your tooth. Cavities need to be treated by a dentist so that they don’t get worse.

Gum disease is another common dental health problem. It happens when the gums become inflamed and start to bleed easily. Gum disease can be caused by not brushing properly, smoking, or having diabetes. 

If you have gum disease, you may notice that your gums are red and swollen and bleed when you brush your teeth. Gum disease needs to be treated by a dentist or orthodontist so that it doesn’t get worse and lead to tooth loss.

Bad breath is another common oral health problem. It can be caused by food particles stuck in your teeth, smoking, or dry mouth. 

If you have bad breath, you may notice that people avoid talking to you close up. Bad breath can usually be fixed by brushing and flossing regularly, using mouthwash, or chewing sugar-free gum.

What foods can keep my teeth healthy?

When it comes to keeping your teeth healthy, what you eat is just as important as how often you brush and floss. Here are some foods that are great for your teeth: 

  • Cheese: This dairy product is not only packed with calcium, which is essential for strong teeth, but it also helps reduce tooth decay.
  • Yoghurt: Like cheese, yoghurt contains calcium and can help prevent cavities. It also contains probiotics, which are good for oral health.
  • Green tea: Green tea contains catechins, which are antioxidants that can help prevent gum disease.
  • Crunchy fruits and vegetables: These foods help scrub your teeth clean while you eat them and promote saliva production, which helps keep your mouth healthy.

Professional dental care

When it comes to keeping your teeth clean, professional dental care is the best way to go. 

There are several reasons why professional dental care is important, and we’re going to explore a few of them below.

First and foremost, professional dental care can help you avoid cavities and other tooth problems. When you see a dentist regularly, they’ll be able to catch any potential problems early on and treat them accordingly. This can save you a lot of pain (and money) down the road.

Second, professional dental care can help improve your overall oral health. By getting your teeth cleaned regularly, you’ll be less likely to develop gum disease or other oral health problems. 

Not to mention, it can also help freshen your breath!

Finally, it gives you peace of mind. When you know your teeth are being well cared for, it’s easier to relax and enjoy life. 

So if you’re looking for a way to improve your oral health and well-being, make an appointment with a dentist today.


Taking care of your teeth with regular brushing and flossing is one of the best ways to maintain good oral health. A clean mouth means fewer cavities, better breath, and a healthier overall smile. 

With proper dental hygiene, you can keep your teeth looking their best for years to come. Make an appointment with a dentist or orthodontist today.

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