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Biofilm is a layer of bacteria that can accumulate on your body’s skin, and bacteria lives in these communities to protect themselves from threats like other germs, antibiotics or antimicrobials. The plaque that forms on your teeth is a type of dental biofilm, and because it can lead to oral health problems like gum disease or cavities, it needs to be removed. Here are three effective methods for biofilm removal.

1. Brushing

Dentists and dental hygienists recommend brushing your teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day, to remove biofilm. Not brushing your teeth for effectively for two minutes may cause biofilm can remain on your teeth, at the gumline and on your smile. It’s a good idea to set a timer while you’re brushing your teeth to ensure that you brush for at least 2 minutes.

When you’re brushing, use short back-and-forth strokes to clean the outside surfaces, inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all of your teeth. Remember to brush around your gumline and around your back teeth. These areas can be hard to reach, so be patient and diligent.

2. Flossing

Brushing isn’t able to remove all of your biofilm since it can build up between your teeth or underneath your gumline, and it’s very hard to reach these areas with a toothbrush. To remove biofilm from these hard-to-reach areas, dentists recommend flossing once per day.

To floss effectively, start with an 18-inch-long strand of floss. Hold a small section of the floss between your fingers and gently insert it between your teeth. Use an up-and-down motion to dislodge biofilm, and then curve the floss around the base of each tooth to clean biofilm from beneath the gumline. It’s best to use a new, clean section of floss for each tooth.

Some people have difficulty using traditional floss, but everyone needs to clean between their teeth. If you have limited mobility, large spaces between your teeth or if you wear braces, ask your dentist about alternative flossing methods that may be easier for you.

3. Professional Cleanings

Professional cleanings are an important part of biofilm removal. Even if you brush and floss regularly, you may not fully remove your biofilm, and when it remains on your teeth, you could suffer from oral health problems like gum disease. As a general rule, you should have a professional cleaning performed every six months, though your dentist may recommend more frequent visits if you have a lot of biofilm.

During a professional cleaning, your dental hygienist will carefully remove biofilm, plaque and tartar from above and below your gumline with special instruments. He or she may also floss between your teeth to get rid of any lingering biofilm.

Biofilm can cause oral health problems, so it needs to be removed promptly. A good oral hygiene routine that includes brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist for professional cleanings will help you effectively remove biofilm and keep your mouth healthy.