Just because you have a toothbrush and use it doesn’t mean you’re brushing effectively. Did you know that it’s possible to go through the motions of oral care and still fall short of proper tooth brushing practices? Failing to brush well can lead to cavities, gum disease or even worse—tooth loss or dental implant failure.
Here at Stuart J. Froum DDS, we’re not just passionate about fixing oral health problems. More than that, we love equipping our Manhattan patients to avoid these problems altogether. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of toothbrush tips to start the new year right.
Whatever your oral condition looks like right now, we encourage you to re-examine your brushing habits for a brighter and healthier smile. These tips can help!
Some people think that hard-bristled toothbrushes are best since they should be able to remove more plaque and debris, but this is incorrect. One recent study shows that toothbrushes with hard bristles can lead to receding gums and enamel loss. Nobody wants to accelerate tooth decay during oral care times, so be sure to brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Bonus tip: Look for toothbrushes approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). This will ensure that all parts of your brush—including the bristles—are safe for use in the mouth.
If your toothbrush head is too small, you may not do an adequate job of cleaning every part of your teeth. But if you pick a toothbrush that’s too large, you may have difficulty brushing in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth.
Your best bet is to pick a toothbrush size you’re comfortable with. Leave smaller toothbrushes for kids and find a brush head size about 1 inch long.
Bonus tip: As for toothbrush handles, bristle patterns or head shapes: choose styles that you feel comfortable with. When it comes to oral health, the way you brush is still more important than minor toothbrush specifics.
Your tooth brushing technique is one of the most important things to consider for your oral care routine. Some people brush too strongly, thinking that this will effectively eliminate plaque. However, this isn’t a good idea even if you’re using a soft-bristled brush. Brush gently but thoroughly for maximum health and effectiveness.
Another mistake that people make involves brushing in a straight line across teeth. Dental professionals agree that brushing with a circular motion promotes healthy gums and targets a larger surface area across your teeth. Straight strokes can help, but try gentle circles across your smile next time you brush. Your gums will appreciate the love!
Bonus tip: Don’t neglect the molars near the back of your mouth! Make a habit of brushing every part of these hard-to-reach teeth—not just the tops. Plaque can easily build up in your mouth to accelerate cavities, but thorough brushing can halt decay and keep every part of your mouth clean.
Brushing your teeth shouldn’t be a sprint to the finish line every time you start. Even the best toothbrush technique won’t make a difference if you rush your oral care habits, so take your time!
The ADA says that people should spend 2 minutes brushing their teeth twice a day, and we recommend the same. 2 minutes ensures that you will cover every part of your teeth. Also, brushing parts of your mouth that you’ve already covered can ensure that bacteria and plaque are handily removed.
How long do you spend brushing your teeth? The ADA also shares that Americans spend about 1 minute and 52 seconds brushing—8 seconds short of the recommended time. We know our Manhattan patients can do better. Start today!
Bonus tip: If you’re not used to brushing for 2 minutes or longer, then use a timer or stopwatch. This takes the guesswork out of solid toothbrush times and encourages thorough cleaning.
As part of your daily oral care routine, don’t forget to brush your tongue as well! This is important because your tongue actually carries the largest amount of bacteria within your mouth. If these bacteria aren’t eliminated, it can lead to halitosis (bad breath) and even tooth decay later on.
To clean your tongue, use the tongue cleaner found on the backs of many popular toothbrushes. If this feature isn’t present, regular toothbrush bristles will do. Reach from the back of your tongue to the front and from side-to-side with gentle pressure. Lastly, don’t forget to rinse with water when you’re done.
Brushing your tongue is an important part of preserving oral health, so stay consistent in 2017. You’ll find your breath much fresher and your smile even healthier!
Bonus tip: Instead of a toothbrush, you can also use a tongue scraper to clean your tongue. This plastic or metal tool is specifically designed to keep your tongue clear of bacteria. Regardless of what instrument you use, the most important thing is to stay consistent in brushing your tongue.
There are enough toothpaste varieties on grocery store shelves to leave anyone’s head spinning. But we recommend a good fluoride toothpaste to keep tooth decay at bay. Sodium fluoride and similar ingredients are great at removing bacteria that wreak havoc among your teeth.
Bonus tip: While it’s true that too much fluoride can harm your teeth, we don’t recommend eliminating this ingredient from your oral hygiene habits unless you’re allergic to it. Just use fluoride in moderation. If you combine this tip with the others, you’ll be safeguarding your smile from cavities like nothing else.
There are unique advantages to both brushing before and after you eat.
If you choose to brush after you eat, you can immediately remove enamel-eating bacteria that starts forming after your meal. Besides that, you’ll be able to brush away food particles from the crevices of your teeth and your breath will feel fresher too.
However, there is one unique advantage to brushing your teeth before you eat. Certain acidic foods like oranges and other citrus fruits can weaken tooth enamel temporarily. Brushing your teeth shortly after consuming these foods can damage your teeth if you’re not careful. In such cases, either wait 30 minutes after consuming acidic foods before brushing or brush before eating.
Bonus tip: Dental experts are divided on whether you should brush before or after you eat. The most important thing is to brush and stay consistent with other oral care habits as well.
In addition to brushing your teeth, we want to remind our Manhattan patients of the importance of daily flossing. If you don’t floss once a day, your oral health will suffer no matter how well you brush.
Flossing helps your teeth because it removes bacteria and food particles where your brush can’t reach. It also stimulates your gums in a healthy way. Just remember to floss close to each tooth with care to ensure that your gums aren’t damaged in the process.
Bonus tip: It doesn’t really matter whether you floss before or after brushing your teeth. As with tooth brushing, the important thing is that you do it.
Lastly, rinsing with a good mouthwash is a great way to complete your daily oral care routine. This can prevent tooth decay and gum disease, reduce plaque and freshen breath all at once. Just remember not to use mouthwash as a substitute for brushing your teeth. Nothing can replace regular tooth brushing!
Bonus tip: If you’re sensitive to fluoride or alcohol, use a natural mouthwash. These rinses can freshen breath without the alcohol burn!
If your oral health doesn’t look great right now, don’t worry. Resolve to see Dr. Stuart J. Froum in 2017! After we examine your teeth, we’ll know just the right treatments that can revitalize your smile for this new year.
Brushing your teeth is an important oral care habit, but so is seeing a good dentist at least twice a year. Schedule an appointment with us today, and make the coming year your best yet for oral health!