A proper routine of brushing your teeth is essential to maintaining good oral health so that halitosis, gum diseases, tooth decay and many more ailments are prevented. Starches and sugars in the food that we eat can combine with the plaque in our teeth and create an acid that can wear down tooth enamel. Plaque can also lead to gum disease and even larger issues like heart disease, diabetes and respiratory diseases. Now more than ever, physicians are becoming aware of the link between the mouth and the body. Unfortunately, when people have a busy schedule, the last thing they are concerned with is the way they are brushing their teeth in the morning and at night. Most of us just want to get going with our plans, but it might actually be wise – and save a lot of money later – to pause and just correct the following simple mistakes that commonly occur during this, at most, five minute process.
1. How Much Toothpaste Is Too Much?
Usually, when toothpaste commercials play on television, they advise viewers to use at least an inch or two of toothpaste on their brush for sparkling teeth. But is that much really necessary? The main purpose of toothpaste is so that your teeth get a good dose of fluoride each day. Fluoride is also one of the ingredients that dentists use during annual cleanings. If a person gets fluoride from alternative sources like mouth rinses, then large quantities of toothpaste aren’t required. Other ingredients in toothpaste include: water, abrasives, surfactants, antibacterial agents, mint flavoring, preservatives, sweeteners and coloring agents. Even if overloading your toothbrush with toothpaste might not entirely harm your teeth, it can be a waste. Especially if most of it gets spit out in the beginning or if people stop brushing due to the full foamy feeling in their mouth. The recommended amount for adults is generally the size of a pea.
2. How Long and How Often Should I Brush My Teeth?
Did you know that dentists actually prefer patients to brush three times a day? Unfortunately, a majority of people find it difficult to even do it twice. But if the time between brushing is too long, plaque can build up. It has actually been discovered that large amounts of plaque in the mouth, can dangerously lead to plaque buildup in the arteries as well. The average time required to brush is for at least two minutes until all of the surfaces of your teeth are cleaned, however, most dentists recommend three minutes. Three minutes might seem like a long time, especially for little children, so having a timer can really help people stay on track. The end goal is to ensure that all the surfaces are cleaned, so that germs and food particles are not still trapped between your teeth. Otherwise, this can lead to serious problems such as periodontitis or gingivitis. Gum disease is also proven to lead to heart disease and diabetes, so it’s definitely worth it to spend an extra minute or two now, instead of suffering for years later on.
3. If The Toothbrush Doesn’t Fit…
If you are exerting effort to fit your toothbrush in your mouth, chances are that it is way too big for you. Make sure that the head of the toothbrush covers the surface area of your teeth without inflicting any pain on your gums. The average toothbrush head for adults is half an inch wide and one inch tall. You should be able to maneuver it to clean hard-to-reach spots like the sides and back of your molars. The handle should also feel like it naturally fits, like a pencil or a fork, in your hand. And lastly, the bristles shouldn’t be so stiff that they are aggravating your sensitive gums. For electronic toothbrushes, the bristles can come in soft, medium and hard options. The wisest and safest choice would be the soft bristles for the vast majority of the people. It is always safe to ask your dentist for their opinion, or look for toothbrushes that have earned the American Dental Association Seal of Approval. The more comfortable the toothbrush is, the less likely you are to dread the process!
4. Brushing too Hard Can Do More Harm Than Good.
Brushing too vigorously can actually push back your gums, causing your tooth roots to become irritated. It can also erode tooth enamel, which will cause a painful increase in sensitivity to temperatures. These two things alone can lead to periodontitis and cavities. One way to avoid this is by choosing to use softer bristles. The best way to brush is by using short soft strokes at a 45 degree angle that is pointing towards your gums so that there are no abrasions. Circular motions are also recommended on the outer and inner surfaces and well as your tongue. And lastly, apply just enough pressure so that the bristles of your toothbrush are not pushed up excessively against your teeth. Plaque in not hard to remove, if all the right surfaces are covered.
5. Do Not…
Start at the same place in your mouth every time. People tend to start in one area of their teeth when they begin to brush, causing them to exert less effort in cleaning other areas. Starting in different areas each time ensures that there is equal attention to all of your teeth. Skipping the inner surfaces of your teeth, can cause plaque, germs and other problems to build up over time. The front of your teeth won’t stay shiny for long, if the other sides aren’t just as clean too. Also forgetting to rinse with water, can leave toothpaste ingredients and bacteria behind in the uncovered areas of your teeth and gums. And lastly, cleaning and drying your toothbrush is imperative to maintaining good oral hygiene. A neglected toothbrush can result in accidentally inviting bacteria back into your mouth.
6. Replace Your Toothbrush
If the bristles on your toothbrush look like they have a severe case of bed-head, it is definitely time to replace your toothbrush. When a toothbrush lacks the same shape or flexibility that is might have once had, it’s effectiveness will be significantly reduced. All of your effort in brushing your teeth will be for nothing if your toothbrush is no longer cleaning your teeth effectively. The sad truth is that sloppiness in this one area can actually lead to severe problems down the road. The good news is that by simply considering to correct these misconceptions, you are already on your way to a better oral routine that will improve your health and your smile.