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Posted on: January 25, 2021
Taking Care of Your Teeth: the Basics of Brushing
Are you looking for the most effective ways to brush your teeth? Do you make sure to consistently brush your teeth twice every day and diligently floss at least once each day? Even if you do engage in these excellent habits to maintain your oral health, your technique could be off, causing problems you might not even be aware of before it’s serious. If you don’t brush and floss correctly, you could be missing bacteria and food particles that can lead to cavities and gum disease. Let’s go back to basics and break down the benefits of brushing your teeth and revisit some tooth-brushing techniques.
The Importance of Tooth Brushing
Brushing your teeth every day is an essential practice that benefits much more than just the outward appearance of your teeth. If you have good oral hygiene, you’re also reducing your risk of developing serious dental problems, such as gum disease and periodontitis. Not only can these diseases cause tooth loss, but they can also negatively affect your health in other ways, such as increasing your risk of stroke, heart disease, pneumonia, and diabetes. While it’s true that receiving professional cleanings from your dentist every six months can prevent gum disease from progressing to an advanced stage, consistently brushing and flossing every day is the best thing you can do to prevent gum disease and periodontitis.
What Are the Consequences of Plaque?
Plaque is a sticky colorless film that is constantly forming on your teeth. Plaque contains millions of bacteria and can lead to tooth decay and gum disease if not removed regularly. When you eat carbohydrates or sugary foods and drinks, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars, and this mixture produces acids. Those acids can eat away at your tooth enamel, causing your tooth enamel to break down and eventually leading to the development of cavities.
If you don’t brush and floss every day to remove plaque, it can collect minerals found in your saliva and harden into a yellow substance called tartar. Only your dentist or dental hygienist can remove this substance. The presence of plaque, bacteria, and tartar irritates your gums and causes inflammation and redness. This can lead to the early symptoms of gum disease and gingivitis, including swollen, red gums that may bleed while brushing or flossing. When caught early, gingivitis can be successfully treated and reversed.
Gingivitis can progress to an advanced stage called periodontitis when not treated correctly or early. If you have periodontitis, your gum tissue might start to separate from your teeth, forming pockets of bacteria. With advanced periodontitis, the bones that support your tooth structure are destroyed, causing tooth loss.
Tooth Brushing Tips for Everyone
Although brushing and flossing might seem like one of the easiest tasks of your day, you might still be making mistakes that can affect your oral health. To make sure you’re receiving all of the benefits that daily brushing and flossing provide, our dentists recommend following these tips and tricks from the American Dental Association (ADA):
Following Proper Brushing Techniques
To properly brush your teeth, hold your toothbrush at a slight angle, and use short, gentle strokes. Start from the gumline and use circular, up-and-down motions. Apply firm, yet gentle, pressure to avoid damaging your gum tissue. To clean the inside of your front teeth, tilt your toothbrush up and use gentle up and down strokes.
Make sure you brush all of your teeth, including the outer and inner parts, sides, and the chewing surfaces. To eliminate bacteria, you should also brush your tongue. Once you’re done brushing your teeth, you should rinse with mouthwash to eliminate any remaining food particles or debris.
Use the Correct Toothbrush
Our dentists recommend a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small brush head. Soft bristles are gentle on the gums but still allow you to remove plaque and food particles from your teeth and gumline. A toothbrush with a small brush head makes it easier for you to clean all of your teeth, even your back teeth and other hard-to-reach areas. Many of our patients also use an electric or battery-powered toothbrush, which may give you the ability to remove more plaque when compared to a manual toothbrush. However, either type of toothbrush is far more effective than not brushing.
Ensure a Consistent Frequency of Brushing
Make sure you brush at least twice a day and aim for at least two minutes each time. Brushing for at least two minutes allows you to remove plaque and food particles from your entire mouth. You might consider dividing your mouth into four separate sections, focusing on thoroughly brushing each tooth in that section for at least 30 seconds before moving on.
Brushing your teeth shortly after every meal is ideal, but if you’re unable to, it’s helpful to rinse your mouth with mouthwash or water after every time you eat.
Use the Correct, Dentist-approved Toothpaste
It’s important to select a toothpaste that’s right for you. There are many options to choose from, such as those that provide cavity protection, tartar control, whitening, and special care for sensitive teeth. Ask your dentist or hygienist which toothpaste is the right one for you.
Properly Care for Your Toothbrush
Rinse your toothbrush with water and store it in an upright position when you’re finished brushing. This ensures that it has a chance to air dry before you use it again. Replace your toothbrush about every three months or when it starts to show signs of wear, whichever happens first.
Remember to Floss Your Teeth
You should floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing between your teeth helps you remove harmful plaque or food particles that might remain even after brushing your teeth. This step is most often missed by patients, but remains one of the most important parts of the tooth maintenance routine.
Schedule Your Dental Cleaning
Our dentists want to make sure that you have a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime. If you have any questions about how you can improve your daily oral care routine, get in touch with us today to make your appointment. It’s also important to come into our office for regularly scheduled cleanings and exams to make sure that your mouth is as healthy as it can be. Contact us today!