I went to the dentist for a regular cleaning and checkup the other day and learned something new. Maybe I'm just slow, but I never really understood about plaque and tartar. The hygienist said that my gums on one side a receded a bit, and she asked if I have been using a hard toothbrush. I told her that I used soft. She said that if you brush too hard, you can damage your gums. I always thought the opposite. I thought that flossing and brushing actually strengthened your gums. She said that plaque is very soft, and could actually be wiped off with a kleenex. If you brush softly, it will come off. But if you leave it on, it eventually hardens and becomes tartar. She said that tartar cannot be brushed off, no matter how hard you try. So there is no need to brush too hard.
My brother told me that he has worn some of the enamel off of his teeth from brushing too hard. That's a little scary, considering you can't get that back. I think it's far better to brush softly, more often, than to try to "scrub" your teeth hard once or twice a day.
The other thing the hygienist told me, that I already knew, but she said it in a new way, was that the soft plaque gets down in between your teeth, so you need to floss to get it out. When you think about leaving the plaque on the outer surfaces of your teeth, it may seem gross. But if you leave it in between your teeth, it's just as gross. That's kind of a new incentive to floss regularly.
So in a nutshell, brush regularly, and floss regularly, but don't be too agressive. A little bit will go a long way. Which goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Excuse me while I go floss my canines.