All dentists recommend “brushing twice a day and regular flossing.” Is that all there is to building strong teeth and gums? There are a lot of other things you can do to ensure a healthy smile, but it all starts with teeth brushing, and doing it right.
Most of you have been brushing your teeth the same way since childhood. You may not even know that there are a lot of “wrong” ways to brush. Here are my do’s and don’ts. Anything here surprise you?
Tooth Brushing Dos:
- Brush with fluoride toothpastes and gels. Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that helps prevent and even reverse early stages of tooth decay.
- Choose a toothbrush that is appropriately sized and use a soft-bristled brush. Bristles that are too hard can injure your gums and cause recession. (You don’t want to be “long-of-tooth” prematurely.)
- Brush for 2 minutes covering the quadrants of the mouth (upper, lower, inside, outside or behind). A motorized (electric or battery-operated) toothbrush with a timer can be a great choice; most people don’t realize 30 seconds per mouth section is a long time. Use short, gentle strokes that cover one or two teeth at a time.
- Brush anytime after you’ve consumed anything particularly sweet, chewy, or fibrous in addition to the normal two times a day. If it’s not convenient to brush, rinse with mouthwash or water to wash away food particles and residual sugar and to dilute acids produced by decay-forming bacteria. If you can’t rinse, swish with water and swallow to reduce the residual sugar on your teeth.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 months or whenever the bristles start showing signs of excessive wear. Also replace after any illness (cold, flu, etc.). Germs can live on the bristles so if you continue to use the same toothbrush it could lead to reinfection. If you tie your toothbrush changes to seasons or holidays you won’t forget! (For example: Easter-July 4th-Halloween-New Year’s Eve is a good schedule for four times a year.)
- Brush your tongue once a day with a toothbrush or tongue scraper. Sulphur-emitting bacteria can reside on the tongue surface and are largely responsible for bad breath. One or two swipes from back to front will suffice to reduce the bacterial count in your mouth and help control halitosis.
- Keep toothbrush heads dry after use.
Tooth Brushing Don’ts:
- Don’t ever share toothbrushes with anyone, even your family members. Germs and gum disease can be transferred via moist brushes.
- Don’t brush your teeth within 30 minutes of consuming acidic (citrus fruit) foods or beverages (juices, sports drinks, soft drinks). The acids demineralize (soften) the tooth structure and make them more susceptible to abrasion through brushing.
- Don’t use a hard-bristled brush or excessive force (worthy of repeating). You are cleaning your teeth and gums, not the grout between your bathroom tiles! Be gentle.
- Don’t allow children 2-yrs old and under to ingest toothpaste. Children should always brush teeth under the supervision of an adult. Tip: Children need assistance with oral hygiene until they possess the dexterity to tie their own shoelaces.
- Don’t forget to rinse! Rinsing collects and discards all of the bacteria you just brushed from your teeth and gums and prevents it from re-depositing on the tooth surface.
- Don’t allow the water to run while you brush – conserve water! Rinse using a glass of water or turn on the faucet after you’ve completed brushing.
- The Most Important Don’t: Don’t forget to schedule regular checkups with your dentist. Annual professional cleanings and exams are the easiest way to avoid painful and costly dental problems in the future.
Please feel free to share this with all your friends. There are tips here for everyone!
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