Everyone knows you should brush your teeth. But many people don’t know there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Proper brushing removes plaque from the large surfaces of the teeth and from just under the gums. The best defense against cavities and periodontal disease is to remove the plaque daily before it has a chance to build up and create problems.
Here are ten ways you may give plaque a chance to build, without even realizing it:
Mistake # 1: Brushing for too short a time. Here’s an easy one to fix. Dentists recommend brushing for two minutes. That can feel like an eternity, especially to a child. You may want to set a timer or play a song to keep a child brushing for the right amount of time. Some electric toothbrushes like the Intelisonic Power Toothbrush even have a timer built-in.
Mistake #2: Brushing infrequently. “I’m always amazed by adults who brush only once a day or skip a day,” said Oliver Roberts, DMD, who practices at the Coast Dental Willow Bend office on State Road 54 in Lutz, FL. How often should you brush? At least twice a day, but no more than three times a day.
Mistake #3: Brushing too hard. Brushing too hard or too often can cause gums to recede over time. Along the same lines, using the wrong type of bristles can hurt your mouth, instead of help. Ask your dentist what type of toothbrush is the best for you.
Mistake #4: Brushing improperly. Don’t brush straight up and down or just side-to-side! Dentists recommend brushing in a circular motion, with the toothbrush inserted at a 45-degree angle. This helps remove bacteria and food particles trapped beneath your gum line.
Mistake #5: Always starting in the same place. Are you a creature of habit? Most people are. Some dentists think that people may brush more vigorously when they begin brushing, and then grow either tired or bored by the time they finish brushing – and those last few teeth may not get the attention they deserve. If you change up your routine, those teeth will get the care they need.
Mistake #6: Skipping the inside of your teeth. Plaque can grow on the any tooth surface, including the inside ones. “Your back teeth, the molars and pre-molars, are angled near the bottom where the teeth attach to the bone. If you don’t position the toothbrush correctly, you can’t reach that part. Improper technique is one reason a lot of people end up with cavities on these teeth,” explains Dr. Roberts.
Mistake #7: Skipping a quick brush of your tongue. The tongue needs some attention too. Give it a quick brush at the end or use a tongue scraper to help kill bacteria that live on the tongue and help freshen up your breath.
Mistake #8: Not rinsing your toothbrush after you’re done. Just think of all the bacteria that your toothbrush has just scraped off your teeth and tongue. Do you want it to stay on the toothbrush? Gross! Pop the toothbrush under the faucet before you put it back in the toothbrush holder.
Mistake #9: Not replacing your toothbrush when you should. If you’ve been sick, you’ve had more germs than usual in your mouth, and those germs are getting transferred to your toothbrush. Make sure you change toothbrushes about three days after the illness so you don’t reintroduce the bacteria to your body. If you’ve been healthy, then changing your toothbrush every three months is usually sufficient. If the bristles appear worn or frayed before then, you may want to change your toothbrush even more often. To extend the life of your toothbrush, consider a toothbrush that has an integrated ultraviolet sanitizer that kills common bacteria and viruses on the brush heads. Ask your dentist about the best option for you.
Mistake #10: Giving up. If your teeth hurt when you brush, or you see pink in the sink, don’t stop brushing! No matter what condition your teeth are in, doing nothing is worse than doing something. Please make an appointment to see a dentist and find out what is going on. The doctor is not going to berate or belittle you for the condition of your teeth. He or she will diagnose the problems and create a treatment plan so you can eat, kiss, smile and laugh for a long time to come!
Lutz dentist Oliver Roberts, DMD, has been a practicing dentist since 1979. He provides general dentistry services to patients starting at age 12. His services include bone grafting, dental implant restorations, extractions, periodontal disease management and veneers. His office is located at 23036 State Road 54, Suite 403, Lutz, FL 33549.
Written By: Beth Gaddis
Reviewed By: Oliver Roberts, DMD
Reviewed By: Charbel Klaib, DMD
Reviewed By: Cindy Roark, DMD