Did you know that your smile is one of the first things other people notice about you? Healthy, beautiful teeth are essential to making a good first impression. And while there are many ways to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile, it’s important to start with the basics of oral health care–brushing your teeth.
Your toothbrushing habits can make or break your smile. We all know we are supposed to brush our teeth every day, however, it’s not just important that we brush our teeth daily– the details of that habit are imperative to its effectiveness.
So, are you brushing your teeth in the most effective way? Here are 8 tips to get the most out of tooth brushing:
1. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Using a hard-bristled toothbrush is a sure way to damage your gums and teeth. These toothbrushes have tightly-packed bristles that don’t bend easily, causing the erosion of dental enamel and irritation of gum tissue.
Soft-bristled toothbrushes are less dense, so the bristles bend while moving back and forth along your teeth and gums. Though this may not feel as effective as a hard-bristled toothbrush, it’s much better at cleaning your mouth without doing any damage.
2. Invest in an electric toothbrush.
Electric toothbrushes are a great option for children and adults, and they are especially great for people with limited mobilities due to arthritis, carpal tunnel, or developmental disabilities. An electric toothbrush takes some of the pressure off of you by doing most of the work. You simply hold the toothbrush against each tooth for about 10 seconds, and let it do the scrubbing!
Various studies, like this one, have also shown that electric toothbrushes reduce plaque and the risk of gingivitis more than manual toothbrushes.
3. Use the 2x2 rule.
The American Dental Association recommends that everyone brush for two minutes, twice a day. Most people brush their teeth in the morning to get rid of “morning breath”, but brushing at night (right before bed) is even more important.
In the evening, our teeth have plaque build-up along the surfaces of our teeth and gum line. Without removing it before going to bed, that plaque can turn into tartar, which leads to cavities and gum disease. Brushing at night also helps prevent surface stains from setting in so your smile stays bright.
4. Use fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral, remains one of the most important ingredients in toothpaste to prevent cavities and gum disease. Fluoride remineralizes tooth enamel, encourages the production of fluorapatite, and exerts antibacterial properties. Though fluoride cannot reverse cavities, it can slow down their progression.
5. Be gentle.
Be careful of how much pressure you’re using when brushing. Even if you use a soft-bristled toothbrush, pressing down too hard while brushing your teeth can also damage your enamel and gum tissue, leading to dental sensitivity, cavities, and gum recession.
To determine if you are using too much pressure, try brushing with your non-dominant hand and feel the difference! Then, switch back to use the proper combination of pressure and technique.
6. Brush your tongue.
The tongue harbors bacteria just like the teeth and gums do, so it’s very important to clean your tongue while brushing. Rinsing with water alone will not remove the bacteria or the biofilm. So, after you’ve brushed your teeth, one of the best toothbrushing habits is to brush your tongue front to back and side to side, then rinse with water. You can also use a tongue scraper, but both methods are effective.
7. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months.
There are several reasons why you should replace your toothbrush often:
- Bacteria build-up: As a toothbrush removes bacteria from your teeth, gums, and tongue, it accumulates bacteria in the bristles. The longer you use a toothbrush, the more bacteria it accumulates.
- Worn-out bristles: At about the 3-4 month mark, the bristles on your toothbrush will likely lose their stiffness, and consequently, their effectiveness.
- Sickness: If you’ve been sick, especially with a viral or bacterial infection, it’s best to switch out your toothbrush once the sickness has passed.
- Accidental sharing: If someone accidentally uses your toothbrush, buy a new one to avoid the transfer of cavity- or disease-causing bacteria.
8. Follow up with flossing.
Unfortunately, toothbrushes can’t clean between your teeth. Flossing is an essential part of any oral hygiene routine and should never be neglected. Use traditional floss, floss picks, or a water flosser to remove plaque from between your teeth. This is one of the best ways to avoid cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and a multitude of other oral health issues.
Get Personalized Tooth Brushing Tips
Have questions about the best fluoride toothpaste? Want to know if you’re using the right brushing technique? Need recommendations for an electric toothbrush? Our friendly dental team is prepared to answer your questions and help you achieve optimal oral health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.