Who knew that there was so much to know about brushing your teeth? Surprisingly, there are both right and wrong ways to do it, but most people don’t realize it. Because tooth brushing is something that we do hundreds of times a year, it’s easy to get into bad habits without realizing it.
What are the most common things you need to keep in mind when brushing your teeth? There’s a lot of information that goes into that two-minute session at your sink; here are the most important tips that you should keep in mind.
Use an Appropriate Toothbrush
Do you have hard to clean areas, such as dental bridges, braces, or missing teeth? You might need to alter how you clean around them.
Try toothbrushes with tufts or rubber tips on the ends, making it easier to clean between and around more unique areas. Or, opt for a “proxy-brush” style that resembles a short pipe cleaner on the end of a toothbrush handle; these work great around orthodontic brackets.
If you’re afraid you’re not brushing well enough, tend to get lots of buildup, or have limited dexterity, consider investing in an electric toothbrush. Just keep in mind, you get what you pay for. High quality electric toothbrushes offer thousands of “strokes” compared to the few you can make in the same time frame with a manual brush, boosting your oral hygiene. Clinical studies show a significantly better impact on plaque and biofilm removal when using electric brushes over manual ones.
Buy the Correct Size
Toothbrush size is important. If you have a smaller mouth, go for a smaller toothbrush; even a child’s toothbrush will do. Using a larger one can make it impossible to clean around the curves inside of your bite.
Brush for at Least Two Minutes
Electric toothbrush or not, you need to be spending at least two minutes per tooth brushing session. If you tend to go more quickly, there’s a good chance that your fast back-and-forth action is causing your brush to skip over the curves and contours of your smile. Take your time. Consider using a timer, electric brush that beeps, or listening to a song on the radio. The longer, the better, but two minutes should be the minimum. If you’re not watching the clock, you’re probably only brushing for about 1/4 of the recommended timeframe. Experiment and see for yourself!
Using an Appropriate Toothpaste
Not just any toothpaste will do. If you have specific concerns such as tooth sensitivity, staining, or an increased cavity risk, talk to your dentist. Many over the counter products are formulated to help with unique needs (such as heavy tartar buildup, for example) but in some cases, it’s necessary to get a prescription.
Softly and Slowly
Faster isn’t better. Slow tooth brushing is deliberate and focused, allowing you to better clean your teeth. Brush just two teeth at a time, angling the bristles toward the gums. Make short, back-and-forth strokes on only those two teeth, then move to the next two.
Always use a soft or extra soft toothbrush. Your tissues should gently blanch, but additional pressure isn’t necessary; in fact, firm bristles can damage your smile permanently.
The WRONG Way to Brush Your Teeth
Who knew that there could actually be brushing techniques that are bad for your teeth? Well, there are. One of the most common is what dentists and hygienists refer to the “scrub brush method.” This habit involves rough, back-and-forth movement with lots of pressure.
Surprisingly, your teeth can become permanently damaged by this bad habit. Strong as it is, tooth enamel can be worn down by super-aggressive brushing techniques, leaving “notches” in the sides of each tooth. That’s not to mention the gum recession that goes along with it. Neither of these problems can repair themselves; only a dentist can help.
Get Your Dentist’s Input
If you’ve been brushing too hard — or too little — over the past few years, it’s best to see a dentist for a routine checkup. But if you don’t have insurance through your employer, that might not be an option. Fortunately, Aetna Dental Offers carries affordable insurance alternatives that can save you 15-50% on routine dental care. Contact us to find out how!