Brushing up on the basics: are you brushing your teeth right?
Do you know for sure if you are brushing your teeth correctly? Toothbrushing is one of those skills you learn when you are too young to really remember. Perhaps as you were growing up, your dentist gave you some tips (especially if you’d just had a filling and clearly needed an update). Perhaps you got braces and a special how-to guide to brushing and flossing with them. As brushing your teeth properly is one of the most important cornerstones of oral hygiene at any stage of life, here are some tips from Loock Dental Practice.
1) Pick the right toothbrush
It’s easy enough to be bewildered by the choice of toothbrushes at your local supermarket or online shop, and to just go with your favorite colour, the one on special, or the eco friendly one with a bamboo handle. But how do you know which is the best tool for the job? For an in-depth look at toothbrush selection, head over to our previous post on this topic.
If you’re in a hurry, just remember, harder is not better, particularly if you have a habit of really scrubbing your teeth. Aim for a soft to medium bristled toothbrush. Your tooth enamel with thank you for it in the long run.
2) Be gentler than you think
A lot of people treat their teeth like a pot that needs a good scouring. Ease up on the elbow grease, folks, and rather go for good technique and sufficient time. Hard scrubbing of your teeth can damage your tooth enamel over time by wearing it thin, and can also damage your gums. The goal of brushing is to remove the plaque, not the protective enamel on your teeth.
If there is a buildup of hardened plaque, called tartar, then you will need to visit an oral hygienist to get it scraped off correctly -with special tools. Your toothbrush was never made for this job, so hard scouring with a toothbrush is just going ,to damage your enamel, while having no effect on the tartar buildup that is harming your teeth.
3) Timing is important
Plaque builds up over a 12 hour cycle, so it’s important to brush at least once every 12 hours, or twice daily, so the plaque doesn’t get a chance to do any harm. You can’t really skip your evening brushing and then catch up with an extra brushing the next day. Habits are easiest to establish if you set yourself a regular routine for morning and evening brushing.
It is also important to brush for long enough, to be sure you remove all the plaque. The usual recommendation is 2 minutes each time you brush. If you aren’t sure if you’re brushing for long enough, set a timer on your phone and see if you are getting it right. You might be surprised!
4) Brush after you floss
Flossing first means any food particles or plaque loosened up and removed from between your teeth will be properly removed when you brush afterwards.
5) Brush all your teeth
You sometimes catch kids brushing as if they are in a cartoon – just the front teeth in a side-to-side motion. But even adults can favour brushing one part of the mouth (such as the front top teeth) over another. (Such as the inside surfaces of the back teeth)
Try becoming aware of where you brush the most and the least, and see if you’ve got the balance right. One way to do this is to mentally divide your mouth into sections, like front teeth, inside surface, front teeth outside surface, molars inside surface, outside surface and top surface, etc. and brush each section for a count of ten (trying to get it to those 2 minutes overall).
6) Brush your gums as well
To freshen your moth and clear away plaque, you should also give your gums a very gentle brushing.
7) Develop good technique
We recommend brushing in a gentle circular motion, rather than from side to side. This allows tooth bristles to get around the whole surface of the tooth, as after all, teeth aren’t flat but slightly curved, and the tops have lots of ridges to reach around and into.
8) Choose a good toothpaste
You need different toothpastes and different ages, and there is a bewildering array of choices and trends to make sense of. If in doubt, consult your dentist about your particular needs.
You can read about the effectiveness of natural remedies and toothpastes in this post.
9) Speak to your dentist
Next time you have a checkup with your dentist, ask them if they have any specific advice for you on brushing your teeth correctly, based on their examination of your mouth. You may have particular requirements if you are pregnant, have sensitive teeth, braces, or a crown or root canal treatment, for instance.
Let your dentist show you how to assist your children or older parents with oral hygiene as well. Remember your oral hygiene needs can change at different stages of life.