Brushing your teeth is an activity that you do every day. In fact, it’s become a habit for most of us that we do it without much thought. Let’s face it, you, like almost everyone, learned how to do it when you were a child and, even if you learned it the wrong way, you still brush the same way. Maybe you still haven’t done the right moves, don’t know how to choose and use the right toothbrush, or you haven’t been brushing your teeth enough.
Quite surprising, according to many dental hygienists including Dr Johnson in Fort Lauderdale, there are many people who don’t know how to brush their teeth properly, a problem that can lead to bad breath and serious oral health problems. Brushing properly is tricky, but there are a few tips that will help you avoid common mistakes that almost everyone makes.
So let’s try to improve your skills with this simple guide:
- Choose the right toothbrush
Walk into your local drugstore or supermarket and you’ll see dozens, if not hundreds, of toothbrushes: compact, medium, large, tapered, dental, fixed, flexible, and even electric. There are toothbrushes designed for children, young adults, adults, seniors, and for patients who have pre-existing dental conditions. Alright, so there’s no shortage of products for you to choose from, but the question still remains unanswered: How do you choose the perfect toothbrush? According to dentists, there is a simple set of rules that will help you choose the right toothbrush:
- think about the size of your mouth – a good toothbrush will fit snugly in your mouth and you won’t feel your mouth stretch while using it
- think about convenience – the bristles come in different degrees of softness – choose a softer bristle if you have sensitive gums
- electric vs manual – electric toothbrushes have come a long way and some models are very good, but you may prefer a classic toothbrush – keep in mind that you will most from any movement
- Brush to taste
The American Dental Association recommends that we brush at least twice a day, for at least 120 seconds each, for a total of 240 seconds per day. That’s a total of just two 2-minute sessions each day, but surprisingly, most Americans fail to respect even this simple rule. Many people only brush for less than 30 seconds and will only do it in the morning. Try using a stopwatch to carefully assess your brushing time – you’d be surprised how good you feel after a precise 120-second brushing session…
Tip: Don’t overdo brushing – more than 3 sessions a day can be harmful to your enamel and gums!
- Master your moves
Refine your brushing technique by following a few simple rules: use side-to-side strokes along the gum line and hold the brush at a 45-degree angle. Also, make gentle up-and-down movements as you work your way down the teeth. Use short strokes to get into that tight space. Remember to brush your tongue too – lots of bacteria live on it and they are the ones responsible for your bad breath.
Tip: Once you get the basics down you should try to expand and try out different moves as well. For example, start brushing in different areas for a change – your gums will thank you and you won’t be bored anymore!’
- Take care of your toothbrush
Always rinse your brushes when you’re done. This will avoid the accumulation of germs and bacteria from your mouth and teeth. Plus, your toothbrush will be free of hardened toothpaste residue, which can damage the bristles.
Tip: According to the ADA, toothbrushes should not be used for longer than 3 to 4 months, mainly because the bristles lose their flexibility. Try to get a new one after this period.