For many of us, brushing our teeth is something we do on autopilot. Teeth brushing is usually one of the first things people do after waking up, usually just dabbing some toothpaste on a brush and moving it around their mouth with the same brushing pattern they have used since childhood. Your parents probably taught you how to brush your teeth, telling you to slowly recite the “ABCs” three times. But, is this the right way to brush your teeth? Proper brushing and attention to other details are critical for good dental health. Here are the major aspects of tooth brushing you need to know for long lasting teeth:
How do I Select the Right Toothbrush for Me?
When you pick out a toothbrush, make sure it is one that will fit comfortably in your mouth. Many people select brushes that are over sized for their mouths, forcing them to open wide and strain their jaw throughout the brushing. This is not only uncomfortable, it does not promote proper tooth brushing because you will want to rush through the brushing to get it out of your mouth.
It can be difficult to select the proper sized brush because so many manufacturers are designing brushes with all sorts of special features that take up space on the brush head. Many of the special features, such as long bristles to go underneath the gum line, which is a truly beneficial thing as long as the brush fits correctly in the mouth and it feels good so the teeth can be properly brushed.
Many people do not know what bristle stiffness to select and usually opt for a stiff bristle. A stiff bristle toothbrush can damage the gums, leading to bleeding gums, and miss hard to reach spots between the teeth because the bristles do not flex. Select a toothbrush with soft bristles, which is comfortable on your gums, flexes properly to reach between teeth, and is stiff enough to clean plaque off the teeth.
Do I Need an Electric Toothbrush?
The bottom line is that if your brushing techniques are poor, an electric toothbrush is going to produce the same poor results if you were to use a manual toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes do offer some significant advantages when used properly, with timers to promote longer brushing times, several speed settings for comfort, and even UV lights to clean the brush of bacteria. It is best to use a manual toothbrush until you have good dental health habits in place.
How Often Should I Replace the Brush?
A toothbrush typically lasts anywhere from 3 to 4 months. With use, the bristles will lose their stiffness, which hampers plaque removal. Also, even though you cannot see it, the bristles are fraying at the microscopic level and this further deteriorates the ability of the brush to properly clean the teeth. The 3 to 4 month guideline also applies to brush heads on electric toothbrushes.
What Brushing Technique Should I Use?
Most of us are used to wide brush strokes that go from the front of our mouth to the back across the teeth. This method leads to damaged gums and missed spots because the bristles glide along the exposed surface of the teeth. The bristles need to reach into the space where your teeth begin to curve inwards towards each other to remove damaging plaque and bacteria.
The proper technique is to take the brush and turn it to a 45 degree angle against your teeth and brush with short strokes. Angling the brush and stroking in an upwards motion pushes the bristles into the gaps between your teeth. If you are concerned about brushing your gum line, gently brush with a side to side motion over gum line.
Do not push the brush down onto your teeth or gums. This causes two problems: First, your gums are more likely to be damaged, bleed and get infected because the bristles rip into the tissue. Second, your teeth are not being cleaned because the bristles are being pushed off of the teeth. Aggressive brushing does not remove plaque, the tips of the bristles do. So use a soft touch.
How Long Should I Brush and How Many Times a Day?
You should spend at least 2 minutes brushing your teeth. The key is to make sure the bristles touch every tooth surface exposed in the mouth. Split your mouth into four sections and spend 30 seconds brushing the side facing the tongue, the surfaces facing the opposite jaw, and the surfaces facing your gums. Do not brush too long as this can actually wear down the enamel of the teeth. Gently brush your tongue.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. If possible brush three times a day, with the extra brushing session coming after lunch or midday. Do not brush excessively as this will lead to premature enamel wear.
What Toothpaste Should I Use? What About Flossing?
The market is flooded with toothpastes that whiten teeth or have some sort of tartar control. Constant use of toothpastes containing the chemicals to accomplish whitening or tartar control is actually damaging to your teeth because they physically wear down the tooth and the protective enamel. The addition of baking soda particles in toothpaste is essentially like using sandpaper on your teeth. If you want to use these products, do so sparingly or twice a week. Use fluoride toothpaste for regular tooth brushing.
The toothbrush is the first tool for good dental health, and floss is the second. Flossing is a critical step to removing plaque and food particles in the areas where your brush simply cannot reach. Flossing has never been easier with the production of single use flossing devices. When you pair flossing with teeth brushing, you will have teeth that last a lifetime. For more information on proper brushing and how to maintain a beautiful smile, call Cosmetic Dentist in Boca Raton at (561) 232-2070.
Call Cosmetic Dentist in Boca Raton at (561) 232-2070