HOW you brush your teeth is just as important as WHEN you brush your teeth. In fact, brushing incorrectly could actually be harmful rather than helpful for your teeth and gums. As a general dental practice in Gilbert, AZ, Lifetime Family Dental is concerned about seeing your mouth stay healthy for your whole life. Using proper techniques when you brush your teeth will go a long way toward maintaining your dental health for a lifetime.
As children, most of us probably had a dentist or dental hygienist who demonstrated tooth-brushing techniques for us. If you remembered everything you were shown, and practiced it diligently as you grew older, you’re to be congratulated! But more than likely, the majority of people have forgotten important details on brushing properly. And if you’re older, it’s possible techniques have changed since your dentist first showed you how to brush as a child. Here are our suggestions on the best techniques for brushing those pearly whites.
Proper Techniques for Brushing Your Teeth
- —Enjoy that meal: Brush about 15-20 minutes after eating a meal. Acids form in your mouth as part of the eating process, and brushing too soon after eating can contribute to an acidic wearing-down of your tooth enamel.
- —Easy Does It: Use a newer brush with soft or very soft bristles, and don’t press too hard. Using an old brush can be ineffective, since worn bristles won’t work as well. And brushing with force isn’t necessary to remove plaque. Instead, use enough pressure to allow the bristles to gently brush (rather than scrape or scrub) the teeth.
- —Get in the Pocket: Where your teeth and gums meet, there is a tiny (about 1 millimeter) “pocket” at the gumline that needs to be gently cleaned out. To be able to brush the tooth’s surface under that millimeter of gum and clean out that tiny pocket, it’s important to hold your toothbrush at the correct angle so the bristles can gently slide underneath the gum. Hold your brush horizontal to your teeth and then tilt it at a 45-degree angle, with the bristles pointed toward the gumline. Next, move along the surface of the tooth until the bristles slide under the gumline. Using either a small, circular motion or a small, back-and-forth horizontal movement, brush gently for about 20 strokes.
- —Repeat: Continue brushing all your teeth in the same manner, on both the outside and the inside surfaces. Now you understand why dentists recommend brushing for a minimum of two minutes! It takes time to the job well, and to do it correctly.
- —Straight Up: For brushing inside of your front teeth, you may find it a bit difficult to maintain a 45-degree angle. Instead, try turning your toothbrush vertically. Then, move it up and down, carefully brushing along the gumline to remove food and debris.
- —Flat Out: To brush the chewing surfaces, place your brush straight down on the surface and move gently in small circles, brushing for the same number of strokes.
- —Tongue Too: Remember to also brush your tongue, since it is another surface where bacteria can gather.
- —Rinse Away: And lastly, rinse your mouth with water to wash away everything that was loosened during the brushing process.
Twice a Day and Floss Away
Our Rhyming sensibilities might help you remember our recommendation to brush twice each day, for at least 2 minutes: that’s the length of an average song, so if you like, you can turn on a tune and let your favorite singer be your timer! And, don’t forget to floss once daily. Flossing reaches between the teeth and gumline where the bristles of your brush may not have been able to reach. You can also use a dentist-recommended mouthwash as another way to fight plaque.
If you’re a visual learner and prefer to see something demonstrated, feel free to ask us. We’re a general dental practice fighting to keep your teeth healthy, so our dentist or dental hygienist at Lifetime Family Dental will be glad to take the time to show you proper techniques. If you have questions, give us a call. And we’ll see you at your next regularly scheduled dental cleaning and checkup!