We all know how to brush our teeth, right? It’s something we’ve been taught since an early age and, most times, take for granted how important brushing and flossing is to our overall health. You not only need to brush regularly, but you need to brush right.
Good technique to getting plaque off of your teeth and gums is important to fighting off diseases such as gum disease, cavities, and gingivitis. But how does your brushing technique measure up?
We think that educating our patients on proper dental care is the best way to ensure long term dental health. So we’ll be going over the main tools you’d be using to keeping your smile healthy, and why they’re important.
But first, some basics:
Brush your teeth twice a day!
That means in the morning to get rid of any plaque or bacteria that has built up while you were sleeping (no morning breath for you!), and at night from eating during the day.
Ideally, you should brush after every meal, especially lunch time. But if you brush at least in the morning and at night, you’ll be fighting off the majority of plaque buildup in your mouth.
Dry Bristle Brush + Fluoride Toothpaste
The very basics of dental care, in order to brush you teeth, you’ll need a soft bristle brush that fits comfortably in your mouth and fluoride toothpaste.
While most people brush immediately with the toothpaste, you might want to try dry brushing your teeth first. The physical action of the bristles coming in contact with your tooth is what removes plaque from your teeth’s surface, not necessarily the toothpaste.
So dry brush first with some water to remove the initial layer of plaque, and then brush with your fluoride toothpaste to finish off.
Alternatively, instead of using a regular bristle brush, you can try an electric brush.
An electric or battery-operated toothbrush has been known to reduce plaque and gum disease better than the average toothbrush. Most electric brushes have different attachment bristles to help with different types of cleaning for your teeth.
Some also have a timer that’s set to run for 2 minutes of brushing (the recommended time you should spend brushing your teeth).
The method of cleaning is the same with a regular toothbrush: try dry brushing with water to clean off the plaque build up on your teeth and around your gums, and then use a fluoride toothpaste to finish your cleaning.
Floss is important in order to get the spaces in between your teeth that a regular bristle brush or an electric brush can’t reach. The overall goal of cleaning your teeth is to get to as many places where plaque can live as possible, and that means between your teeth as well.
Try flossing at least once a day or after you eat food that normally would stick to your teeth (such as corn, bbq ribs, caramel, etc). You don’t want to go to bed with something you ate stuck in your mouth, right?
Fluoride mouthwashes help to strengthen tooth enamel and is another good tool to help you protect your teeth. The recommended amount of mouthwash is 20ml, and it’s best to use it at night after you’ve brushed your teeth for the evening.
Try to gargle the mouthwash for 30 – 45 seconds before spitting it out on the sink. As always, don’t swallow.
Don’t forget your tongue! Your tongue can also house plaque, and is probably one of the last things that are really emphasized as important in dental care. But cleaning your tongue can reduce bad breath and also help slow down the overall build up of plaque on your teeth.
While brushing your tongue with your toothbrush can be a good alternative, it’s more effective to get a tongue scraper and scrape your tongue every morning.
Ideally, you’d use mouthwash, floss, and a tongue scrapper in tandem with your brushing, and not as substitutes for your dental care. Using all of these tools together can create a very effective plan for protecting your teeth and reducing gum and tartar diseases.
If you’re ever unsure as to if you’re doing your brushing correctly, don’t be shy to ask your dentist to review your brushing technique. Dentists are here to help you care for your teeth, and maintaining a good routine at home helps them the next time you have a dentist appointment.