Cleaning your teeth is so second nature that many do it without thinking. But many patients are shocked to learn that they are not actually brushing correctly. For example, might you respond to the following questions correctly?
- How regularly should you brush your teeth?
- Is it possible to over-brush?
- How long should I brush?
- What’s the appropriate brushing method?
- Should I brush soon after eating a meal?
- How frequently should I replace my toothbrush?
Your teeth and oral health are our Auburn dentist’s first concern. Correctly brushing is one of the most noteworthy things you do for a healthy mouth. Let us take a little time to explain why we brush our teeth and some of the steps of effective brushing.
Why You Brush
You brush teeth to remove plaque – the sticky, bacteria-filled biofilm that adheres on teeth. Plaque is the most common enemy of our teeth; it houses acid-producing bacterial organisms that erode the mouth. Plaque leads to cavities and other serious difficulties, like periodontitis and bad breath. Studies place plaque growth as the primary cause for over 90% of dental treatments. In addition, brushing with fluoride toothpaste repairs your tooth enamel and makes teeth resistant to bacteria. Finally, after brushing you feel cleaner and your breath is fresher and everybody wants that!
What are the most important steps to commit to memory?
1. Use the appropriate toothbrush.
Toothbrushes come in many sizes. In addition, there are a variety of toothbrush shapes. Choose one that feels good in your mouth and hand. Finally, always use a soft-bristle toothbrush.
Should you use a manual or an electrical toothbrush? It is essentially up to you, but electric toothbrushes will make the work easier. Speak to the office of Rock Creek Dental at your next cleaning and we can help you make the decision that’s appropriate for your specific needs.
2. Timing is everything.
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day; three times a day is even better. Brushing more often might wear away tooth enamel and irritate your gums. How long should you brush your teeth? Proper brushing requires at least two minutes (most adults finish too soon). Try sectioning your teeth into four sections of thirty seconds each. You can use a stopwatch to help you get the approximate timing. Some view TV or listen to tunes while brushing to help pass the time; just make sure you don’t brush your teeth too long or you will end up with irritated gums.
3. Know when to say when.
Energy drinks, coffee and soda — even healthy drinks like juices — contain acid that softens tooth enamel. brushing immediately after consuming these drinks can ruin the tooth’s valuable hard coating.
If you drink any one of the above, wait at least thirty minutes before brushing. This gives the saliva time to rinse the mouth. Rinsing your mouth out with water or chewing sugarless gum in the meantime is also helpful.
4. Keep it clean.
Make sure to always clean your toothbrush. Oral microorganisms from your mouth will thrive on it otherwise. Cleaning also removes leftover toothpaste that hardens bristles. Do not put it in a place where it will stay damp — a wet toothbrush is more likely to grow bacterial organisms. The only exception could be if you use a UV toothbrush sanitizer.
Best Toothbrushing Technique
So how should you brush your teeth? Our Auburn dentist, Dr. Matson, suggests the following technique:
- Grasp your toothbrush gently and put a pea-sized piece of fluoride toothpaste onto the toothbrush.
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
- Gently brush the outside and inside of each tooth using short back-and-forth strokes (or use a circular motion). Start with the outer surfaces of your upper teeth, and then move to the lower teeth. Make sure to also brush the spaces between your teeth.
- Next, brush the inner surfaces of the upper teeth, followed again by the lower.
- Now brush the chewing surfaces. Hold the bristles flat against the molars and brush your back teeth. Do this also for the top and bottom teeth.
- For fresher breath and to remove bacterial organisms, gently brush your tongue. You can even purchase tongue scrapers, implements designed for brushing your tongue.
Examine your work by moving your tongue over your teeth. Do they feel slick and smooth? Good work — your teeth are clean!
When to Change Your Toothbrush
When should you retire your toothbrush? The ADA (American Dental Association) recommends getting a new toothbrush every three or four months. In addition, pay attention to your bristles. Broken, frayed or stiff bristles don’t do a good job.
Do you have more questions regarding the appropriate toothbrush and brushing properly? Make an appointment with your Auburn dentist, Dr. Matson, today by calling (530) 823-6456. You may also stop by our office at 3205 Professional Drive or contact us via our website.