How are your toothbrushing skills? Have you mastered the art of brushing?
Surprisingly, many of us have not. According to a study, only 1 out of 10 people brush their teeth correctly – so that their efforts are preventing tooth decay!
Not sure whether you’re brushing your teeth correctly? Here’s a little refresher.
Pick the Right Toothbrush – Not all brushes are created equal. Harder bristles on your brush won’t scrub your teeth any cleaner, and they may actually wear down your tooth enamel. A brush with a softer bristle is more effective for cleaning your teeth, and it’ll be more gentle on your gums and enamel too. If you have sensitive teeth or gums, consider switching to a brush with extra-soft bristles.
Brush Teeth Twice a Day – Seems simple enough, right? Well, according to a survey 30% of people only brushed their teeth once a day. To help fight normal tooth decay, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste, is recommended – once in the am, and once, ideally, before going to bed. * If you have certain dental issues, like dry mouth, and you’re more prone to getting cavities, brushing after every meal may be recommended.
Take Some Time Brushing – For most of us, brushing for two minutes is adequate for cleaning. This also allows your teeth to absorb the toothpaste’s fluoride. But making it to 2 minutes can be a challenge. That’s one of the benefits of brushing with an electric toothbrush. They have self-timers to help guide you guide you through your 2 minute brushing. Not a fan of electric brushes? Use the timer on your phone.
Don’t Brush Back & Forth – Brushing back and forth can damage your gums, and cause gum recession. Rather than horizontal strokes, angle your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle, aimed at your gum line (a place that cavity causing bacteria love to hide in!), and then gently start brushing with short, circular strokes.
Use the Right Amount of Force – Brushing your teeth with too much force will damage your teeth and gums, and it doesn’t make them any cleaner. Ease off the power and opt for a more gentle stroke – much like holding a golf club, you don’t need to hold your tooth brush in a death grip to get the best performance. You’re massaging your teeth and gums, not scrubbing them. Pro Tip: Look at the bristles as your brush. If they bend, you’re brushing too hard.
Give All Your Teeth Some Love – Your “eye” teeth get all glory, even when you brush, but don’t forget to spread the love to your hard working molars. And be sure to brush the inner surfaces of your teeth and gums too. Which area of your mouth do your teeth often get the least amount of brushing? The inner surface of your lower front teeth. Pro Tip: The timers on electric brushes, like Sonicare, will seamlessly move through each of the four quadrants of your mouth (after 30 seconds) – upper & lower, inner, outer.
Brush Your Tongue -Your mouth is home to a lot of bacteria; about 20 million bacteria reside in your mouth at any given time. Many of them provide benefits, while some of them harm the health of your teeth and gums, such as tooth decay, enamel erosion, gum disease, and bad breath. A lot of bacteria grow and multiply on the surface of your tongue. It’s got a lot of crevices and cracks for them to hide in. Brushing your tongue (front and back), helps remove some of the pesky bacteria. You’ll have better breath, while supporting your cavity prevention.
Change Up Your Brushing Routine – Add a little variety to your daily brushings. Instead of always beginning your brushing at the same place, change it up a little. Why? By the time we reach the last area of our teeth to brush, many of us are either bored, or ready to move on, so we may not give these teeth and gums enough love. The ADA actually suggests changing up our routine and recommends starting in a different area each time so that all your teeth receive the same amount of tender loving care.
Brush Maintenance & Replacement – Good byes can be difficult, but at some point you’ll need to move on from your existing toothbrush and find a new one. This doesn’t mean you’re fickle, it’s just that the American Dental Association recommends switching out your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months because bacteria and food particles start accumulating on the bristles and the handle. Use an electric brush? Be sure to change heads about every 12 weeks. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to rinse your brush after each brushing session – this helps wash away bacteria, any food debris, and toothpaste residue.
If your brush stroke needs a tune up, it’s never too late to perfect it.
Mastering the fine art of tooth brushing will help protect your teeth and gums for life, keeping them free of plaque and cavities. As part of your routine preventative care, your at-home oral hygiene efforts will compliment your semi-annual teeth cleanings and help reduce any unexpected dental issues during your dental exams. Now that’s something to smile about.
Discover a more personal, and pain-free approach to your dental care. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your teeth cleaned or examined, please contact us for a consultation – call (425) 957-4700 to make an appointment or contact us online.