Many of us fail to give our teeth the attention they deserve!
When people do not give enough importance to oral hygiene and health, it leads to poor oral health giving rise to issues like plaque buildup, cavities, gingival irritation, and enamel deterioration. In fact, poor oral health is a common problem worldwide.
Poor oral hygiene is not just about problems inside the mouth. In fact, it is linked to serious health problems like diabetes, heart disease, strokes, premature births and other major conditions.
On top of that, it can impact your smile, which is hugely important to your appearance, self-confidence, relationships and success in life.
When it comes to oral health, brushing your teeth properly is the most important component. But unfortunately, many people do not brush their teeth in the correct manner or for the right duration.
The following are different elements of tooth brushing that you need to bear in mind.
Proper Duration and Frequency
You must brush your teeth for about two minutes twice a day, first thing in the morning and again before going to bed at night.
A 2016 study published in Evidence-Based Dentistry concludes that brushing your teeth less than two times daily increases your risk of developing tooth decay. This effect is independent of the presence of fluoride in toothpaste.
There are different types and sizes of toothbrushes available in the market. You need to choose one that is not too big or too small. It should fit comfortably in your hand and have a head small enough to easily reach all of your teeth, especially the ones at the back.
Another important point is the bristles should be soft.
You can opt for a manual or electric toothbrush. An electric toothbrush can be a better option for some because many come with timers, so that the brush automatically works for the set time.
A 2016 study published in the Hungarian journal Fogorvosi Szemle reports that an electronic toothbrush provides better plaque-busting power than standard manual toothbrushes.
The bristles of a manual toothbrush will wear out over time, losing their flexibility and effectiveness. Hence, change your toothbrush every three to four months, or as soon as the bristles start to splay out and lose their shape.
Once you have the right toothbrush, your focus should shift to what kind of toothpaste you should use.
Use one with the right concentration of fluoride. It will help remove plaque as well as strengthen the tooth enamel. Most toothpastes with the ADA Seal of Acceptance contain fluoride.
When buying toothpaste, look for one that contains at least 1,350 parts per million (ppm) fluoride. However, it should not be used for children under age 3.
Apart from fluoride, good quality toothpaste may contain active ingredients to help improve tooth sensitivity, whiten teeth, or reduce gingivitis or tartar buildup.
No matter what, toothpaste should not be swallowed, as ingesting too much can have serious health consequences.
Having just a toothbrush and toothpaste is not enough, as flossing your teeth is just as important as brushing.
Flossing removes built up plaque, bacteria and food particles that get trapped between the teeth. Your toothbrush can’t reach some areas of your teeth, but floss can.
You should always floss once a day. A 2015 study published in Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry reports that flossing followed by brushing provides more statistically significant improvements over brushing followed by flossing with respect to plaque control.
Good Quality Mouthwash
Mouthwash can help reduce or control plaque, gingivitis, bad breath and tooth decay by getting rid of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
A 2013 study published in the Academy of General Dentistry indicates that the use of a germ-killing mouth rinse in addition to regular tooth brushing can significantly reduce plaque and gingivitis, more so than brushing alone.
According to the ADA, children younger than age 6 should not use mouthwash, unless directed by a dentist.
Steps for Proper Brushing
Once you’ve picked the right toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash, it’s time to perfect your technique of tooth brushing. Here are the steps for proper brushing.
Step 1. Wet your toothbrush and squeeze only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto it.
Step 2. Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth, then tilt the bristle tips at a 45-degree angle against the gum line.
Step 3. Gently brush the outer surfaces of each and every tooth of the upper and lower gum line, keeping the bristles angled against the gum line and moving the toothbrush in small circular movements. Spend about 12 to 15 seconds in each spot.
Step 4. Use the same technique to brush the inside surfaces of all your teeth.
Step 5. Brush the biting surfaces of the teeth.
Step 6. Clean the inside surface of the front teeth, tilting the brush vertically and making several up-and-down strokes.
Step 7. Finally, brush your tongue. It will help fight bad breath by removing bacteria accumulated on the surface of your tongue.
Step 8. After brushing, spit out any excess toothpaste and rinse your mouth and teeth with plain water.
Step 9. Floss your teeth by slipping floss between adjacent teeth, as far as it will go into the area between your teeth and gums to dislodge food and plaque. Rinse again with plain water. (Flossing can be done before brushing, too.)
Step 10. Finally, it is time to use your mouthwash. Swish a few tablespoons of mouthwash around your mouth before spitting it out.
Once you are done brushing your teeth, rinse your toothbrush under running water for a few seconds to remove any bacteria from the brush. When not rinsed thoroughly, you are actually introducing more bacteria into your mouth the next time you use it. Along with rinsing, keep your toothbrush somewhere where it will readily dry out to prevent growth of bacteria.
Now that you know the proper tooth-brushing technique, a little practice every day will help make it feel like second nature. In fact, it is one of the easiest things you can do to maintain overall oral health.
- Never brush your teeth too hard, as it can hurt your gums.
- No matter what, do not share your toothbrush with others.
- Do not skip brushing your teeth, as it can cause bad breath due to growth of bacteria.
- Do not swallow toothpaste or mouthwash.
- Never use toothpicks to remove trapped food from between your teeth, as you may damage your gums, which could lead to an infection.
- After drinking soda, wine or acidic juices, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
- After every meal, swish water in your mouth to loosen stuck food particles.
- Visit a dentist at least every six months for a proper oral examination.