Do you remember the first time you learned to brush your teeth?
For most of us, probably not. In fact, almost all children have their parents brush their teeth for them before transitioning to handling this daily hygiene habit on their own.
Over a lifetime, the average person will spend 852 hours (or 35.5 days) brushing their teeth. But did you know that many people still brush incorrectly?
While other daily habits like washing your hair or bathing can be accomplished in numerous ways with a positive outcome, brushing your teeth incorrectly can lead to significant oral health problems later. This video gives a refresher course on teeth brushing best practices that will make the question of “how to brush your teeth” a lot easier with these detailed visuals.
What are you brushing with?
To ensure you’re brushing right, the best place to start is to examine the brush you’re using. The diverse universe of toothbrushes and bristle types can be dizzying, and using the wrong product can actually be detrimental to your mouth. Toothbrush bristle varieties come in “soft,” “medium” and “firm.”
If the bristles on your toothbrush are too hard, you may be causing your mouth more damage than good but creating abrasions along the gum line. Try using a toothbrush with soft or medium bristle strength to give you gums a break. In addition, take a look at the head of the toothbrush you’re using right now. If the bristles are frayed or bent in odd directions, there is a good chance you’re pressing too hard when brushing.
Focus on the technique
This is where the above visual is especially helpful in visualizing the best brushing technique.
- First, angle the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. This angle allows you to massage the gums while you also brush your teeth.
- Next, examine the motion you use to run the bristles against your teeth. Some people use a tight circular motion while others prefer long, back and forth strokes.
Experts recommend using long strokes to ensure all surface area is covered; however, if you have unique gaps in your teeth or have periodontal implants, your dentist may suggest alternative brushing patterns.
- Finally, make sure that you are brushing all parts of your mouth. The means you are tackle the front, inner and chewing surfaces of your tooth and your tongue!
Your tongue is just as much of a target for bacteria as your teeth are, even if it is not at risk for developing cavities itself. These bacteria can lead to bad breath and even tooth damage. Because of this, it’s helpful to physically remove the bacteria by brushing or cleaning.
Brushing is just one part of oral health
While brushing is an integral—and arguably the most important—part of your oral health routine, it’s important to remember it is just one part.
By combining proper tooth brushing with flossing, the use of mouthwash and professional teeth cleanings periodically, your routine will create a bacteria-busting trifecta! According to a survey published by Delta Dental, 30% of Americans don’t brush their teeth enough (in terms of time per cleaning or number of times a day they brush). A more shocking finding of the study showed 23% of Americans have gone two or more days without brushing their teeth AT ALL in the past year. Not only does this lead to bad breath, it can lead to significant oral health issues.
Remember: it’s recommended to brush at least twice a day for two minutes. Utilize these tips to boost your oral health and protect your pearly whites!