10 Tooth Brushing Techniques to Improve Your Smile

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To get the most benefit from brushing, you have to do it correctly.

Most of us learned to brush our teeth when we were children. We have stuck with the same brushing technique into adulthood. Unfortunately, many of us learned how to brush the wrong way. And even if we learned the right way, we might not always stick to it. Brushing correctly is tricky. You want to remove plaque without brushing too hard and damaging your gums.

Brush at least twice a day. One of those times should be just before you go to bed. When you sleep, your mouth gets drier. This makes it easier for acids from bacteria to attack your teeth. Also try to brush in the morning, either before or after breakfast. After breakfast is better. That way, bits of food are removed. But if you eat in your car or at work, or skip breakfast, brush first thing in the morning. This will get rid of the plaque that built up overnight.

Brush no more than three times a day. Brushing after lunch will give you a good midday cleaning. But brushing too often can damage your gums.

Here’s the correct basics of brushing:

Place your toothbrush bristles at a 45 degree angle to the gumline.

Use just enough pressure to feel bristles against your gums and between teeth. (Don’t squish the bristles.)

Move the brush back and forth, using short strokes. The tips of the bristles should stay in one place, but the head of the brush should wiggle back and forth. You also can make tiny circles with the brush. This allows the bristles to slide gently under the gum. Do this for about 20 strokes or 20 circles. In healthy gums, this type of brushing should cause no pain. If it hurts, brush more gently.

Roll or flick the brush so that the bristles move out from under the gum toward the biting edge of the tooth. This helps move the plaque out from under the gum line.

Brush chewing surfaces straight on. Clean the inside surfaces of front teeth by tilting the brush vertically and making up-and-down strokes with the front of the brush.

Your toothbrush can only clean one or two teeth at a time. Move your brush frequently to reach every tooth and make sure you brush for two minutes.

Watch yourself in the mirror to make sure no tooth is left behind.

Brush lightly. Brushing too hard can damage your gums. It can cause them to recede (move away from the teeth). Plaque attaches to teeth like jam sticks to a spoon. It can't be totally removed by rinsing, but a light brushing will do the trick. Once plaque has hardened into calculus (tartar), brushing can't remove it. If you think you might brush too hard, hold your toothbrush the same way you hold a pen. This encourages a lighter stroke.

Brush for at least two minutes. Set a timer if you have to, but don't skimp on brushing time. Two minutes is the minimum time you need to clean all of your teeth. Many people brush for the length of a song on the radio. That acts as a good reminder to brush each tooth thoroughly.

Brush your tongue. Oral bacteria can remain in taste buds. Brush firmly but gently from back to front. Do not go so far back in your mouth that you gag. Rinse again. 

Keep It Clean

Do you always rinse your brush? You should. Germs from your mouth and teeth can stay on it if you don’t. It will also get rid of leftover toothpaste that can harden bristles.

You shouldn’t use a disinfectant to cleanse your toothbrush. Just rinse it and let it air dry. Don't put it in a case where it will stay damp for a long time.

Most of us store our brushes in the bathroom -- not the cleanest place in the house. To keep yours tidy, stand it up in a holder. If you leave it on the counter, you could expose it to germs from your toilet or sink. Don’t let brushes touch each other if they’re stored together.

Let it air dry - a moist brush is more likely to grow bacteria. Use a cover that lets air in when you travel.

When it comes to preventive care, there is no “bad” time to dive in. There are different ways to brush correctly. Your dentist or dental hygienist can show you the method that might be best for you.

 

Sources: Web MD, Delta Dental, Simple Steps Dental, Mouth Healthy (ADA)

 

 

 

 

 

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