We all know how to brush. We were taught when we were kids and we’d swear we can do it with our eyes closed.
It’s a skill you learn at a very young age. You probably remember your parents teaching you and watching a video with a dancing dinosaur singing about why it’s important. Many toothpaste brands also promote how important it is for kids to develop a habit of brushing their teeth despite their young and tender age.
Nowadays, we have all the means to teach our kids the proper way of brushing. But, what about those who are already at their ripe age?
During their time, oral health promotion in schools probably was not a prerequisite. Chances are, they were not taught the correct and prescribed way of brushing teeth.
Is it too late for us who are already in the prime of our years to learn how to brush our teeth correctly?
In retrospect, many of you would also probably ask, “How can you go wrong with something as easy and as routine as brushing your teeth?”
You’d be surprised to know how wrong you are for most of your life when you ask your dentist how to brush properly.
You can get it wrong and truth be told, many were and are still doing it wrong!
But, we can come back from this. Here are the basic tips to brushing your teeth correctly which can be taught to both young and old.
The Perfect Angle
It’s recommended to brush at a 45-degree angle against the gumline. Then clean the teeth using a rolling up and down motion to make sure you get the in-betweens and the hard to reach corners of your teeth.
Then, tilt the brush inwards to get the back of your teeth. Always brush at an angle for more precise cleaning.
The American Dental Association encourages dentists to educate their patients about brushing at an angle if it is evident a patient doesn’t know how to brush correctly.
The American Dental Association recommends to brush thoroughly by doing so in sections following the proposed order below:
- Brush the outer surface of your upper teeth first then move to the outer surface of your lower teeth.
- Move on to the inner surface of your teeth, starting with the upper section followed by the lower section.
- Brush the molars since food tends to get stuck in between them and on top of them.
- Use the back of your toothbrush to clean your tongue if you have the kind that has a tongue cleaner. If not, use your toothbrush to clean it gently.
In addition, being thorough once a while doesn’t mean your teeth are properly brushed. You have to be consistent otherwise your efforts are all for naught.
Harder Doesn’t Mean Cleaner
As much as many think that the harder you brush the cleaner your teeth are, it’s not entirely true. In fact, the harder you brush, the higher your chances of damaging your enamels.
Instead, brush with gentle yet precise even strokes as if massaging your teeth with a soft-bristled brush rather than scrubbing them clean.
Take Your Time
If you went for a massage, do you want your therapist to rush?
Of course not!
You’d want it to be slow and steady.
Or how about when you shower?
Do you just step into the shower, get your hair wet and come out after a few minutes?
You take your time to wash your hair thoroughly, soap properly and rinse completely to make sure your whole body is clean.
Your gums and teeth want the same treatment. The recommended duration to brushing is 2-minutes at a time by the American Dental Association (ADA). Less than that or more than that is something you have to avoid doing.
You can’t expect your teeth to be clean if you do a quick couple sweeps on the front surface of your teeth and do another couple sweeps in the inner surface then rinse.
Take your time in brushing your teeth but don’t overdo it! Brushing too long can also harm your enamels and put your at higher risk of getting cavities.
If you have trouble starting this habit, time yourself. Set a timer for 2-minutes every time you brush until the habit sticks and becomes natural. Don’t judge your brushing duration with a song because one song usually has 3-5 minutes of play time.
The American Dental Association recommends people to brush AT LEAST twice a day. The ideal frequency is three times a day which is basically after every meal. But brushing twice a day is sufficient to keep your teeth fairly clean.
Brushing once in the morning and once before going to bed is what’s suggested. Of course, your teeth will thank you even more if you can take the time to brush for two minutes after lunch as well.
This also must be consistent and become a habit to also ensure teeth are consistently clean.
Use the Right Toothbrush
Using a soft-bristled brush is what the ADA or the American Dental Association recommends. Hard bristled toothbrush can potentially scratch the surface of your teeth too much and damage your enamels, exposing your tooth to higher chances of tartar and plaque.
You can either choose between an electric toothbrush or a regular toothbrush. A toothbrush is a tool which will only serve it’s proper purpose if used correctly.
If you want to reach the inner sections of your mouth, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a smaller head.
Another thing we know for a fact as dentists are that there are patients who have a hard time moving on. What we mean by that is they don’t let go of an old toothbrush unless the bristles are almost flat.
They get too attached to how comfortable and familiar it feels that they don’t want to get rid of it unless it’s absolutely necessary!
Well, even if the bristles are still upright and together, you still need to replace them regularly and move on! We recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months or so.
Worn out bristles cannot clean teeth at all. If your toothbrush is already showing signs of wear and tear even before the three-month mark, replace them.
If you want to take your oral hygiene to the next level, you can do these tips along with brushing your teeth correctly:
- Floss in between your teeth EVERYDAY
- Gargle with mouthwash to help get rid of bacteria
- Drink lots of water to keep your mouth hydrated
- Eat teeth-friendly foods such as fruits and vegetables
- Decrease smoking and drinking
As much as we want proper brushing to be more than enough to keep our oral health healthy, there’s still one more thing that will immensely help: visiting your dentist!
Our dentists can help get rid of those nasty bacteria, tartar, and plaque better than any toothbrush can. You can visit our Friendly Dental Group of South Park location for your regular checkups and cleaning if you’re in the South Park area in Charlotte, NC.
Our dentists are not only professional and highly trained but are also fun and friendly; even your kids will love coming to the dentist!