Most of us learned to brush our teeth at an early age. And yet, perhaps because it’s an activity so familiar to us, it is easy to get into bad habits. Brushing your teeth effectively means you have to pay attention to what you’re doing. Here are some handy tips to help you get the most out of your brushing experience.
Your toothbrush should be the right size for your mouth. If you have a very small mouth you may even want to use a child-sized brush. Make sure that the head of your toothbrush can reach right to the back of your mouth.
Flossing and brushing go hand in hand. So don’t forget to floss as part of your daily habit.
Use a soft bristled brush, and make sure the bristles are shaped to reach into the nooks and crannies of your mouth. Stiff bristles can damage your teeth and gums. Did you know that you can even damage your gums and teeth by simply brushing too hard, even with soft bristles? It’s true!
Whether to choose a manual or electric brush is entirely up to you. Both can be equally effective, as long as you’re brushing technique is solid. One advantage of an electric toothbrush is that most of them include built-in timers that alert you when your two minutes are up. They also mean you don’t have to do a lot of work, because the brush does the circular brushing motion for you.
You need to brush twice a day. This is critical. The ideal length of each session is two minutes. This is necessary because plaque bacteria build up on the teeth over the course of the day. These must be removed to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you only brush once a day then these plaque bacteria have a lot of time to harden into a substance called calculus, which can only be removed with professional teeth cleaning.
Calculus will irritate your gums, causing them to be infected and inflamed. You can easily develop gum disease or an even more destructive condition known as periodontal disease. This is a very serious condition and the main reason people lose their teeth. This disease can even cause heart disease and diabetes.
You need to clean all the surfaces of your teeth. Think of your mouth as containing four different quadrants. When you brush, focus on one quadrant at a time, spending about 30 seconds on each.
Squeeze a pea-sized amount of good quality toothpaste onto a damp toothbrush. You don’t need to use a lot of toothpaste. The proper technique is what matters. Start with the outside surfaces of your teeth, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. This allows the bristles to reach to the gum margin which is where the teeth meet the gums. You want the brush to reach just underneath that margin because this is where plaque starts to build up. Use a small circular motion to clean all the outside surfaces before moving on to your inner surfaces and the biting surfaces of your teeth.
An electric toothbrush will usually alert you after each 30 seconds of time have elapsed, making it easy to know when to move on to the next quadrant. Many people overestimate the time spent brushing their teeth, so having a timer is very helpful.
When you’re finished, you should be able to feel that the surfaces of your teeth are clean by running your tongue over them.
Flossing and brushing go hand in hand. So don’t forget to floss as part of your daily habit. Learn more about proper flossing technique here.