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Posted on: January 12, 2021
Brushing Up on the Benefits of Brushing
Think you know everything there is to know about brushing your teeth? Many of us learned how to brush and floss as children, but as adults, we tend to cut corners. People get busy and tend to take less time with their oral hygiene routine, especially if they have nice white teeth. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the high rates of tooth decay in adults prove many adults don’t brush or floss as often as they should. This quick refresher will show you why it’s important to take good care of your teeth now, before problems develop.
Why Should I Worry About Brushing My Teeth Twice a Day?
Brushing your teeth thoroughly twice a day and flossing once is enough to protect your teeth from plaque buildup which causes cavities and gum disease. You also want to brush and floss to keep your breath fresh. The bacteria in plaque causes odors; think morning breath. Additionally, having teeth that look clean and also feel clean gives you the confidence to smile often. Professional and social situations are easier when you have a dazzling smile to show off.
Why Is Plaque Buildup So Detrimental to Your Oral Health?
Dental plaque is a bacteria-laden sticky film that attaches itself to your teeth. Plaque is unavoidable, but if you brush twice daily and floss once a day, you can avoid it from building up on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque produces acids that attack tooth enamel. When it sits too long, cavities form. Plaque can also harden into a substance called tartar, which you can’t brush away.
Tarter often occurs at the gumline, where you can easily miss plaque when brushing and flossing. Tartar will irritate your gums, causing them to swell and appear red. They will also easily bleed. Gum inflammation is known as gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. A dentist or dental hygienist can scrape away the tartar and help you develop a better dental care routine to reverse gingivitis.
Untreated gingivitis may turn into a more advanced stage of gum (periodontal) disease. You may notice pus forming between your teeth, your gums receding and your teeth migrating. You need treatment to control the infection and prevent eventual tooth loss. The chronic inflammation can also have an effect on the rest of your body. Advanced periodontal disease is linked to complications during pregnancy, heart disease and respiratory issues.
How to Make Toothbrushing More Effective
We all brush our teeth, but many of us don’t do it right. If you want to brush like a dental professional, try these suggestions:
1. Use a Soft Bristle Toothbrush
Dentists suggest soft bristle toothbrushes with rounded ends and bristles of varying heights. Soft bristles are effective at removing plaque, but they won’t damage teeth and gums. Hard bristles don’t bend well either, making it difficult to clean in small spaces.
Keep your toothbrush clean by rinsing it after every use and storing it in a cup or toothbrush holder. Don’t put your toothbrush in your medicine cabinet where it can’t air dry. Don’t place your toothbrush in a holder where it can touch anyone else’s toothbrush either. Replace your toothbrush every few months; the bristles won’t be effective if they are more than four months old as they fray.
2. Always Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Always look for fluoride toothpaste containing The American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. You can find a vast array of types and flavors, some of which may also whiten your teeth or make them less sensitive. Never rinse your mouth with water after brushing; just spit out any excess toothpaste. To take advantage of the fluoride protection or additional capabilities, you need a small amount of the toothpaste to remain on your teeth. Fluoride toothpaste isn’t for children age six and under, unless they are supervised by an adult.
3. Make Sure to Brush All the Surfaces of Your Teeth
Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle with the bristles aimed at the gums. Use a circular motion to brush the front and back of all your teeth. You can use a back-and-forth motion to clean the tops of your teeth. Brushing your tongue will also remove plaque and help keep your breath smelling fresh and clean. It should take you at least two minutes to do a thorough job. Brush every morning and evening, at least twice a day. You can brush more often, however, you should avoid brushing immediately after a meal.
4. Floss Before Brushing
Flossing removes plaque from between your teeth where it’s hard to reach with a toothbrush alone. You should floss at least once daily, making sure to clean both sides from between every tooth. It may be challenging to reach between your molars, but this is where most cavities occur. If you have trouble flossing, ask your dentist about alternatives, such as flossers powered by water or air.
If you are worried about the order of things, dentists don’t have a preference for brushing before you floss or flossing before you brush. Pick the order which allows you to maintain the most consistent routine. If you need to change something, discuss it with your dentist to get their opinion first.
5. Use a Mouthrinse if Desired
The American Dental Association says mouthrinses are not essential, but they can be helpful for people who need extra fluoride or protection from plaque. Most people use mouthwash to eliminate bad breath, especially after eating foods known to cause odors, like onions and garlic. If you have bad breath all the time, make an appointment with your dentist to discover the root cause instead of just masking it. If your dentist suggests a mouthwash for therapeutic reasons, look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance so you know you’re getting an effective, safe product.
Brush Your Way to a Healthy Smile
You can’t overestimate the importance of good oral health. Brushing and flossing as recommended is one of the best ways you can ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy. Regular dental exams and teeth cleanings, along with limiting foods and drinks loaded with sugar, are also important. Wouldn’t you like to keep your great smile for as long as possible?