Within minutes after a tooth surface has been thoroughly cleaned, plaque initiation begins. To control this continuous colonization of plaque, bacteria and eventually calculus, one must adhere to a basic oral hygiene regimen. This regimen consists of basic toothbrushing and flossing.
Toothbrushing is the mechanical removal of local irritants such as plaque, bacteria and debris from the teeth and oral structures such as the tongue. Most dental professionals agree that the type of toothbrush, method of brushing, frequency of brushing and duration of brushing are equally important in plaque control. Soft bristled toothbrushes are the brush of choice when making recommendations to dental patients. The soft bristles adequately remove plaque and debris without causing unnecessary trauma to the somewhat fragile gingiva. The technique most often recommended to patients is a gentle, vibratory, back and forth stroke to gently brush along the gumline (bristles pointed towards the gingiva at a 45° angle) and on the chewing surfaces (90° angle to the chewing surface). Finally, brushing for 2-3 minutes, 2-3 times daily attains adequate plaque removal.
Dental floss is an appropriate method of plaque removal in the interdental spaces. Toothbrushing alone cannot reach into the interdental spaces to remove plaque and debris. Dental floss is the only adjunct available that adequately cleanses these hard to access spaces. Current recommendations for flossing indicate using dental floss prior to toothbrushing at least once daily.