Brushing your teeth is so second nature that you probably don’t give it much thought. But doing it right is a key part of good oral health, and it can help you avoid cavities and gum disease. Brush up on your skills with these easy-to-follow tips.
1. Choose the Right Tool
Do you have the right toothbrush? Think about the size of your mouth. If you are straining to open wide enough to let the brush in, the brush is probably too big. It should feel good in your mouth and hand, so you’ll use it often. How are your bristles? If they’re too stiff, they can hurt your gums. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a soft brush.
When choosing between an electric or manual toothbrush, it really comes down to individual preference. Electric toothbrushes can make it easier to do a better job, especially if you have arthritis or other trouble with your hands, arms, or shoulders.
2. Give It Time
Are you brushing enough? Twice a day is recommended, and three times a day is best. You should brush for at least 2 minutes, though most people fall short of the time period. To make sure you’re getting the full 2 minutes, try to divide your mouth into four sections and spend 30 seconds on each. Some electric toothbrushes have built-in timers and can even track your use patterns by syncing to your smartphone. To make the time go faster, you can even try watching TV while you brush. Find what works for you, and stick with it.
3. Don’t Overdo It
Brushing more than three times a day might not be ideal, because too much brushing can wear down tooth enamel and damage your gums. Also, try not to bear down too hard; it doesn’t take a lot of force to remove plaque. Use a lighter touch when getting your teeth sparkling clean. With electric brushes, you let the bristles do the work and just guide the toothbrush.
4. Perfect Your Technique
Are you brushing correctly? Wide, side-to-side strokes can cause scrapes along your gum line. Instead, hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums, and make an up-and-down motion using short strokes. Be sure to brush outer and inner tooth surfaces, back molars, and your tongue. Don’t forget about those hard-to-reach areas; if you aren’t thorough, plaque has time to sit in your mouth and cause damage.
5. Switch Things Up
Do you always begin brushing in the same place? Start in a different place so you don’t get lazy. By the time you get to the last area of your mouth, you may be bored. Stay aware of what you’re doing; keep track of where you are going and where you have been so you can make it to all the surfaces.
6. Pick Products Wisely
The kind of toothpaste you use matters. The things that brighten or control tartar can be harsh. An increase in whitening particles can be harmful and sand away tooth structure. To be safe, it’s always good to turn to plain old fluoride toothpaste. If you want to lighten your smile, you can always switch between whitening toothpaste and regular, or set up an appointment for professional teeth whitening.
7. Control Your Sour Tooth
Energy drinks, diet sodas, and sour candies — even healthy things like apple juice, orange juice, and coffee — have acid that can soften tooth enamel. If you do go for sour goodies, wait half an hour before you brush. That gives your saliva time to restore tooth enamel. The mechanical action of brushing softened teeth is the perfect recipe for wearing away enamel.
8. Keep It Clean
Do you always rinse your brush? You should. Germs from your mouth and teeth can stay on it if you don’t. It will also get rid of leftover toothpaste that can harden bristles. But stick to just using water; you shouldn’t use a disinfectant to cleanse your toothbrush. Also, let it air dry instead of keeping it in a case where it will stay damp for a long time. A moist brush is more likely to grow bacteria.
9. Avoid Potty Mouth
Most of us store our brushes in the bathroom — not the cleanest place in the house. To keep yours tidy, stand it up in a holder. If you leave it on the counter, you could expose it to germs from your toilet or sink. Don’t let brushes touch each other if they’re stored together.
10. Let It Go
How old is your toothbrush? The ADA suggests you get a new brush every 3 or 4 months. You can also look at the bristles. Once they lose their normal flexibility and start to break apart, you should change your toothbrush. Frayed or broken bristles won’t clean your teeth as well.
If you can’t decide which toothbrush to buy, talk to us at Allen Dental.