As kids, we were all told to brush our teeth twice a day and be sure to floss. Some well-meaning person—your dentist, perhaps—might even have shown you how to do it. Maybe it took. Maybe not. All these years later, can you be sure you’re brushing your teeth properly? After all, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right.
How to Properly Brush Your Teeth
When it comes to tooth brushing, it’s assumed that we all know what we’re doing. But trust us, it’s not hard to get wrong. Chances are you’re doing it wrong. But rest assured, you’re in good company. Thankfully, it’s not very hard to change your technique. Your mouth will be glad you did. Your dentist might even thank you.
How long do you think you spend brushing your teeth? If you’re like most people, it’s not long enough. Just a little more time can make a world of difference for your oral hygiene, as well as your overall health. The general recommendation is two minutes. That’s a minute on top and another on the bottom.
If you think of dividing your top and bottom rows in half, you end up with four quadrants on which you can spend 30 seconds each. It’s easy to get distracted while doing a repetitive activity like brushing your teeth. You might start thinking about your workday, or what you need at the grocery store, or if you forgot to charge your phone. By thinking about these four quadrants, you’re forcing yourself to concentrate on which teeth you’re brushing and are more likely to tend to them all fairly evenly.
The Right Equipment
Choosing the right toothbrush also makes a difference. Dentists recommend a soft-bristled brush, and most stores don’t stock much else. Although it seems counter-intuitive, the soft bristles are definitely up to the task of cleaning your teeth. Plus, softer bristles won’t scratch or weaken the hard outer layer of enamel or irritate your gums as you brush.
For the same reason, you shouldn’t put too much pressure on your brush while cleaning your teeth. It may feel like you’re doing a better job, but you may be hurting your teeth and gums in the process. And be sure to replace your toothbrush about every three months.
Using the right toothpaste is also a key element. With all the options for whitening, tartar control, breath-freshening, and enamel-building, all you need is fluoride. Check to make sure whatever toothpaste you choose has it and is approved by the American Dental Association. Most brands available will meet these criteria. If you’re looking for something extra, ask your dentist for a recommendation.
Before you start brushing, make sure you have two full minutes to spare. Remember, half a minute in each quadrant. Don’t skimp. It’s only two minutes, after all. If this seems unreasonable, ask yourself how much time you’re willing to spend in the dentist’s office getting a cavity filled. Suddenly, two minutes will seem much shorter.
Be sure to hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line to ensure the best clean. Brush in small up-and-down strokes at the gum line to sweep the plaque and other debris out from under your gums. Use a circular motion on the flat, forward-facing part of your teeth. Save the back-and-forth scrubbing motion for the top surfaces, where most of the chewing gets done.
Another tip: don’t forget to brush your tongue. Getting some of the bacteria off your tongue helps freshen your breath. Plus, fewer bacteria means healthier teeth and gums.
South High Dental
For the best in oral care, visit the experts at South High Dental in Columbus, OH. From regular check-ups to cosmetic dentistry, the team at South High provides the best possible care to all their patients. And the next time you stop in for a cleaning, ask if they can show you how to properly brush your teeth. You might be surprised at the results. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 614.363.2462.