We all want to have a great smile and pretty teeth, so we spend time brushing and flossing to keep our pearly whites in good health. We all know we’re supposed to brush twice a day for two minutes, but what about the best kind of toothbrush, or how long to wait after eating to brush? There are many common brushing mistakes some of us make when brushing, see if you do any of these and what to change for better oral health.
Many of us pick a brush based on brand name or price, and that’s not often the best choice for our teeth. The first decision when picking a new toothbrush should be, do you want traditional or electronic? There are many electric toothbrushes on the market, and since the originals like Sonicare and OralB came out, prices have come down, and most are quite affordable.
Once you decide on traditional or electronic, you need to make sure the head is the right size for your mouth. It needs to be small enough to reach each tooth completely, a toothbrush head that’s too big won’t allow you to get to those important molars in the very back.
Toothbrush bristles are the final important part of your toothbrush. Too soft and you’re not effectively getting rid of plaque on your teeth. Tooth firm and you can easily damage tooth enamel if you’re an aggressive brusher. You’re looking for a bristle that bends a little when pushed down on.
Once you have the perfect toothbrush for you, make sure to replace it. We suggest every three months or sooner if you notice the bristles are wearing down. A worn down toothbrush is not nearly as effective as it was new. If you have been sick with a sinus infection, mouth or throat infection or bronchitis, it is recommended you replace your toothbrush as soon as you’re better, or 48 hours after beginning antibiotics.
Brushing frequency and length
We always hear we should brush twice a day for two minutes. That’s true, but there’s more it than just that. Brushing in the morning helps get rid of bacteria and germs that have accumulated overnight while you slept. Two minutes gives you enough time to focus on each tooth, your gums, and tongue. Less than that and you risk not being successful in your brushing.
Right before bed is another important time to brush, this is your chance to get rid of any food debris that has accumulated during the day. It’s also the best way to get rid of any bacteria that may be in your mouth before the most vulnerable time of day for your tooth health.
Some people brush a third time during the day, which is wonderful. We start to worry though when we hear of people brushing five, or even six times a day. Brushing this frequently can damage your gums and weaken the enamel on your teeth. So, yes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Skipping important areas when brushing
Some of us, when were taught to brush were only told about teeth. Oral care is so much more than just your teeth. When you brush, you should be getting your gum line as well. Holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle is almost perfect for cleaning the gum line. You should always include the gum line when brushing to help rid that fragile of debris and early plaque.
Another easily skipped area is the inside of your front teeth. We all know to get our back teeth, we can see those, but get in the habit of brushing the insides the whole way around, teeth and gum line both. A good way to avoid skipping areas in your mouth is to change up where you start brushing. One day maybe start on the bottom inside and the next the bottom outside. Try to avoid falling into a habit of brushing the same way every day, which can lead to a more complacent attitude toward brushing.
Another area which we all tend to skip is our tongue. Brushing, or scraping, the tongue is important because the tongue is as susceptible to plague and bacteria as your teeth are. It’s easiest to clean from back to front and remember to breathe through your mouth if you’re prone to gagging.
The last skipping we need to be aware of is skipping mouthwash. A thorough brushing, and flossing, loosens up all the early plaque and bacteria in your mouth, and a good mouthwash helps to kill those germs before they can settle back into your teeth and gums. We suggest as soon as you’re done brushing and flossing to skip a water rinse and instead use mouthwash first.
How you brush is important
There is a right way and a wrong way for everything and brushing your teeth is no exception. We’re going to try and explain the why’s to you as well. While brushing your teeth and gums, it’s important to use a small up/down, almost circular motion. This is the best for getting rid of debris and plaque and is gentle on your tooth surfaces. Many people were taught to go back and forth, which at the gum line can cause gum erosion and is also more dangerous to the fragile tooth enamel.
Another common brushing technique that could be dangerous is how much force you use to brush. Your teeth and gums are sensitive and using a heavy hand can damage them. Consider brushing your teeth more like a massage for your mouth and less like a scrub. You want to be thorough, but not aggressive.
Even if you brush for your full two minutes, if you brush each area quickly and then come back several times, you aren’t getting the full benefit of brushing. Slow down and take your time on each area, make every little circle count. A slow, thorough two minutes will do much more for your oral health, and a two minute speed marathon.
We hope this article was helpful to you and if you noticed any brushing mistakes you are making and want to discuss further, please contact your dentist or oral hygienist for more in-depth information.