2-2-1-2 … WHAT?!

To ensure that your teeth are clean, strong and healthy, it is important to follow a simple preventive dental care rule referred to as the “2-2-1-2:” brush for 2 minutes, 2 times a day, floss at least 1 time per day, and visit your dentist 2 times per year for cleanings and regular dental care. By following the 2-2-1-2 rule, Dr. Robert Ruyak, your dentist at Lasting Smiles of Bethlehem, looks forward to working with you to achieve your healthiest smile!


Now, you may ask, why is there such an emphasis on preventive dental care? The answer is simple. If you follow the 2-2-1-2 rule, you will improve your odds of preventing dental problems later on in life. By properly brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day and attending two dental cleanings per year, you can totally avoid, or lessen your chances of getting cavities, gingivitis, enamel loss and periodontitis.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes, at least two times a day, with fluoride toothpaste. The point of brushing your teeth is to remove food particles and plaque (a sticky, white substance that adheres to your teeth and contains bacteria).  By eating certain foods, such as sugary foods and drinks, the bacteria found in plaque can cause acid to attack your tooth enamel. This can lead to cavities and if plaque is not properly removed, it can lead to tartar (hardened deposits of plaque that can cause tooth discoloration).

So how and when exactly should you be brushing your teeth? General dentists find that brushing your teeth after each meal you eat is ideal (typically three meals in a day). However, if that sounds overwhelming to you as it does to most people, stick with brushing your teeth for two minutes, two times a day: when you wake up and before you go to bed.

In order to effectively clean your teeth, there are a few steps to follow:

  1. Use a soft-bristled brush, tilted at a 45-degree angle, to sweep the brush along your teeth and gums.
  2. Divide brushing your teeth into four quadrants (top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right) and spend approximately 30 seconds brushing each section.
  3. Using short back-and-forth motions, brush the outside, inside and the chewing surface of each quadrant of your mouth.
  4. After 120 seconds of tooth brushing, gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

The key to making flossing effective is simply to do it regularly and properly. The ADA recommends flossing at least once a day.

Read below to learn how to be an effective “flosser”:

  • Using an 18-inch piece of floss, wrap it around your two middle fingers.
  • Use your thumbs and forefingers to tightly hold the floss in place and gently glide it in between your teeth.
  • Gently move the floss up and down along your gum line and tooth.
  • Repeat this flossing motion, using clean sections of floss, in between the rest of your teeth.
  • Select a set time to floss that works the best for you and stick to it! It is best to make flossing a routine, whether that is before or after you brush your teeth, in the shower or before bedtime.

The last part of the 2-2-1-2 rule is to regularly visit your dentist for cleanings and dental care. In order to keep your gums and teeth healthy, it is important to visit your dentist to have an examination and teeth cleaning at least every six months. During the examination, dental professionals will check for cavities, tartar and plaque on, or in between your teeth. They will also check your gums, tongue and mouth to determine your overall oral health. Special tools may be used during the cleaning part of your appointment to ensure plaque and tartar is effectively removed from your teeth.

Between your two regular dental visits a year, remember to follow the 2-2-1-2 rules to maintain your overall oral health:

  1. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes, two times a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Clean in between your teeth (i.e. floss) at least once a day.
  3. Attend two regularly scheduled dental appointments with your dentist each year.

Through effectively brushing your teeth two times a day and flossing once a day, you are doing your part in preventing bacteria build up in your mouth. Create a routine of brushing and flossing at similar times each day, as well as attending regular dental visits to ensure continued oral health. Dr. Ruyak and his team at Lasting Smiles of Bethlehem are pleased to be able to educate and offer beautiful smiles to their patients and neighbors in the Bethlehem, PA area.

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