There’s a pretty good chance you’ve been brushing your teeth exactly the same way since you were a little kid. In fact, you may not even realize there is a wrong way and a right way to brush your teeth. From too stiff bristles to not rinsing enough, most people don’t get the full benefit of this morning and evening routine. So, I’ve compiled a list of the dos and don’ts of brushing your teeth to help you out. Follow them and your pearly whites (and your gums) will thank you!
Brushing Your Teeth The Right Way – The Dos & The Don’ts
- Choose A Fluoride Toothpaste. Always use toothpaste or gel that contains fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring element and helps prevent (and can even reverse) early stages of tooth decay.
- Use A Soft-Bristled Brush Make sure the bristles of your toothbrush are soft – not medium or hard. Stiff bristles can injure your gums and cause them to recede, making you look older.
- Brush For A Full Two Minutes. Pay attention to each quadrant as you go: the upper and lower teeth – inside, outside, and behind. There are many affordable electric toothbrushes out there that have a built-in two-minute timer – get one!
- Use Short-Gentle Strokes. If you use a manual toothbrush, use short, gentle strokes that cover just one or two teeth at a time.
- Brush After Your Eat Anything Sweet, Chewy or Fibrous. In addition to brushing your teeth twice a day, brush after you’ve eaten anything sweet, chewy, or fibrous. If you can’t brush, rinse out your mouth with mouthwash. No mouthwash? Rinse with plain water. If you’re in a spot where rinsing is impossible, just swish with water and swallow.
- Replace Your Toothbrush Every Three Months (or When You’ve Been Sick). It’s essential to replace your manual toothbrush or the bristle part of your electric toothbrush every three months. If the bristles show signs of excessive wear sooner, go ahead and replace them. And, because germs and viruses can live on bristles, make sure your brush is not in contact with anyone else’s while you’re sick and replace them when you recover so you don’t have a relapse. (Tip: tie your toothbrush changes to the seasons or holidays, so you don’t forget! Easter, July 4th, Halloween, and New Year’s Eve is an easy schedule to remember.
- Brush Your Tongue To Prevent Bad Breath. You only have to brush your tongue once a day to reduce sulfur-emitting bacteria that cause halitosis (bad breath). One or two swipes from back to front are all you need. A tongue scraper is helpful, too.
- Keep Your Toothbrush Dry. Make sure your toothbrush doesn’t on its side or in a container that keeps it from drying between uses. Wet bristles are a happy place for germs and viruses.
- Don’t Ever, Ever, Ever Share Your Toothbrush. Never share your toothbrush with anyone, even your family members. Wet toothbrushes, as stated above, are known to transfer germs, viruses and even gum disease from one person to another.
- Don’t Brush After Consuming Acidic Food Or Beverages. Wait, don’t brush? The acids in acidic foods and drinks can demineralize (soften) the surface of your teeth and makes them susceptible to the damage and abrasion that toothbrush bristles can cause. Wait at least 30 minutes and you’ll be fine.
- Don’t Be So Tough On Your Teeth & Gums. As I mentioned above, stiff-bristled brushes are a no-no, and another no-no is applying excessive force while brushing your teeth. Listen – you’re not cleaning the grout between your bathroom tiles – be gentle!
- Don’t Let Children Two & Under Brush Alone. Toothpaste is tasty, especially the ones formulated for children, but swallowing fluoride toothpaste can be dangerous for young children. So try to hang out in the bathroom while they’re brushing, just to be safe.
- Don’t Be Lazy About Rinsing. Yes, I know your mornings are hectic, and you’re exhausted at night. But rinsing your mouth after brushing does more than just get rid of toothpaste. Rinsing collects and discards all the bacteria you’ve just brushed off your teeth and gums and prevents them from re-depositing on your teeth’ surfaces.
Brushing Your Teeth The Right Way – The Most Important Tip Of All
Do not skip your regular dental checkups. Professional cleanings and exams are the best way to avoid painful and costly dental problems in the future. And you may not know this; many diseases in other parts of your body can result from poor dental health. Your dentist can sometimes detect a problem that you didn’t realize was brewing.
Now that you know that brushing your teeth the right way is the right way to go…go ahead and eat, drink and be merry while you take care of your beautiful teeth and gums.
Dr. Sinkin practices general, cosmetic and implant dentistry in the heart of the Big Apple. He truly cares about his patients and takes great pride in making everyone feel relaxed and comfortable during their visits. He has an awesome staff, too. If you live in the NYC metro area, try us out – you’ll experience a different kind of dental practice. For an appointment, call 212- 685-3040. To find out more about Dr. Sinkin, please click here. Thanks for reading!