How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

Good oral hygiene is not just for a whiter smile and fresher breath, it’s important for your overall health.[1]  Brushing your teeth removes plaque—a thin film of bacteria that sticks to your teeth and will cause cavities, gum disease, and if you ignore it long enough, will cause your teeth to fall out! Bad breath affects how people want to be near us.[2] You know why to brush, but if you would like to learn how to brush your teeth effectively, these suggestions will help.

Use A Good Toothbrush

Choose a toothbrush with soft nylon bristles. This will effectively remove plaque and debris from your teeth, without irritating the gums or eroding tooth enamel like hard bristled brushes can do when used with sideways action. The toothbrush should also fit comfortably in your hand, and have a head small enough to easily reach all of your teeth, especially the ones at the back. If you have difficulty fitting the toothbrush into your mouth, it is probably too big.[3]

  • Electric toothbrushes are a great choice. However, you can do a good job with a manual toothbrush — it’s all in the technique.
  • You should definitely avoid toothbrushes with “natural” bristles made from animal hair as these can harbor bacteria and are hard.

 

Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly

The bristles will wear out over time, losing their flexibility and effectiveness. You should purchase a new toothbrush every year, or as soon as the bristles start to splay out and lose their shape. Visual inspection of the toothbrush is more important than the actual timeline.

  • Researchers have established that thousands of microbes grow on toothbrush bristles and handles if stored improperly.[4]
  • Always rinse your brush after using it, and store it upright and uncovered so that it can dry before your next use. Otherwise bacteria will grow.[5]

 

Use A Fluoride Toothpaste

It not only helps remove plaque, it also helps strengthen tooth enamel.[6] However, it’s important to note that fluoride toothpaste is not to be swallowed. It should not be used for children under the age of 3.[7]

You can get toothpastes to target a wide variety of dental and gum problems, including cavities, tartar, sensitive teeth and gums, gingivitis and stained teeth. Choose the one that suits your best or ask your dentist or hygienist for advice.[8]

 

Use A Small Amount Of Toothpaste

Squeeze only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto your toothbrush. Applying too much toothpaste can cause to much foam to form, tempting you to spit and finish too early. Plus, it increases the risk of you ingesting more fluoride-filled toothpaste. [9]

TOOTHPASTEAMOUNT

  • If brushing is painful, try brushing more gently with accurate up/down motion only or switch to a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth.
  • Set your bristles at the gum line at a 45-degree angle. Gently brush with a short, vertical or circular motion. Bite your teeth together as you brush and brush the gum line. Don’t brush across your teeth.[10]
  • Spend three minutes brushing. Brushing just a few teeth at a time, work your way around your mouth in a cycle (start outside lower left round to outside lower right then outside upper right to upper left, change to inside uppers before inside upper right ,inside lower right, finally inside lower left). Be sure that you get every tooth, spending about 10 seconds in each spot. If it helps, you can divide your mouth into quadrants: top left, top right, bottom left, and bottom right.
  • If you get bored, try brushing your teeth while watching television or hum a song to yourself while you brush. Brushing your teeth for the duration of an entire song will ensure that you brush thoroughly!

 

Brush Your Molars

Position the toothbrush so that the bristles are resting on top of your bottom molars. Work the toothbrush in an in-and-out motion, and move from the back of your mouth to the front. Repeat on the other side of your mouth. When the bottom teeth are clean, flip the toothbrush over and work on the top molars. To access outside top molars always swing the lower jaw to the side you are working on. This will increase the space available to move your brush up and down by several times so that no sideways motion occurs .

 

Brush The Inner Surfaces Of Your Teeth

Tip the toothbrush so that the head of the toothbrush is pointing towards your gum line, and brush each tooth. Dentists report that the most commonly skipped area is the inside of the lower front teeth, so be sure not to forget those or other areas hard to reach![11]

 

Gently Brush Your Tongue

After you’ve cleaned your teeth, use the bristles of your toothbrush to gently clean your tongue. (Don’t press too hard, or you’ll damage the tissue.) This helps keep bad breath away and gets rid of bacteria on your tongue.

 

Rinse Out Your Mouth

If you choose to rinse after brushing, take a sip of water. Swish it around your mouth, and spit it out.

  • Note that there is some debate on whether or not this is recommended. While some feel that it reduces the efficacy of the topical fluoride treatment, others wish to ensure that no fluoride is ingested. There are also those who just don’t like having toothpaste in their mouths! If you’re at a high risk of getting cavities, it may be beneficial not to rinse, or rinse with just a small amount of water—effectively creating a fluoride mouthwash.[12]
  • Other studies have shown that rinsing after brushing has no significant impact on the effectiveness of brushing with a fluoride toothpaste.[13]

 

Rinse Your Toothbrush

Hold your toothbrush under running water for a few seconds to remove any bacteria from the brush. If you don’t rinse the toothbrush properly, you can actually introduce old bacteria into your mouth the next time you use it. Rinsing also removes any leftover toothpaste. Place your toothbrush somewhere where it will easily dry out.

Finish with a fluoride-based mouthwash (Optional). Take a small sip of mouthwash, swish it in your mouth for about 30 seconds, and spit it out. Be careful not to swallow any.

 

Remember to brush at least twice a day. Most dentists recommend that you brush at least twice a day — once in the morning and once before bed (this is the most important time to brush). If you can fit in a third time somewhere in the middle, even better!   Remember to brush at a 45° angle as this helps remove plaque and food/drink particles on your teeth better than if you did it normally. You should also try to avoid snacking on sticky candy between meals as much as possible, as this results in more food debris and bacteria building up in the mouth.

 

 

 

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/news/20100527/brushing-teeth-may-keep-heart-disease-away
  2. http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=b&iid=291&aid=1134
  3. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/brushing-teeth-mistakes
  4. http://www.adha.org/oralhealth/brushing.htm
  5. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dental/DE00003
  6. http://www.ada.org/1322.aspx
  7. http://www.fluoridealert.org/issues/dental-products/toothpastes/
  8. http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Oral-Hygiene/Brushing-and-Flossing/article/How-to-Brush.cvsp
  9. http://blog.juliegillisdds.com/?p=47
  10. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/brushing-teeth-mistakes?page=2
  11. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/brushing-teeth-mistakes?page=2
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8281561
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12399689
  14. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/brushing-your-teeth/AN02098
  15. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/brushing-teeth-mistakes?page=1

 

 

 

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