Are You Brushing Your Teeth the Right Way?
You know how to brush your teeth – don’t you? Parents instill this vital daily habit when we’re young, but as it turns out, the American Dental Association researches and updates their best brushing practices regularly. That could mean that it’s time to take another look at how you’re brushing those pearly whites. Some of the ADA’s recommendations are new and not that well-known outside of dentist offices. Here, we’ll share a few tips for you to upgrade your tooth-brushing game.
Contrary to how most people use their toothbrushes, you should angle your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward your gums for the most effective results. Angled brushing reduces destructive swipes against the gums as you brush, as side impacts of the bristles against your gums can cause some serious damage over time. This angle also increases the contact of the toothbrush bristles against tooth crevasses right next to the gums, helping to clean out leftover food bits and plaque that builds up in these areas. The spot between the tooth and the gum is known as the gum line, a term you may hear your dentist mention on your next visit to the office and a critical component of your oral health.
You may be used to brushing in wide strokes across multiple teeth at a time. The American Dental Association advises against this because it can spread dislodged foods across more teeth and doesn’t brush tooth surfaces evenly. Instead, use small, short strokes to maximize singe-tooth coverage. Because tooth surface is not even, using short strokes helps to ensure you clean every part of the tooth.
To boost your cleaning technique, use a short stroke on all sides of your teeth. Most people focus on the outside and chewing surfaces of their teeth but neglect the inside because it’s more awkward to reach. Since the inside surfaces are constantly exposed to saliva and semi-chewed food, they must also be brushed to effectively prevent tooth damage and plaque buildup.
You don’t need to brush all your teeth in the same way. In fact, the ADA recommends vertical brushing for your front teeth. Because the front teeth are so much larger in surface area than any of your other teeth, it’s far more efficient to use up and down strokes to clean them than side to side strokes. Though this somewhat contradicts the 45-degree angle rule, it’s nearly impossible to clean the inside of your front teeth in any other way. And since your front teeth get more exposure to bacteria from food and the outside air, vertical brushing could help reduce long-term problems.
You probably know that a good diet keeps your body in good shape, but current research supports a healthy diet for good oral health as well. Helpful bacteria can break down food particles and decrease the chance of getting cavities while eating a diet heavy in sugar or processed foods can decrease the presence of these microbes. Doctors may tell you that eating sugary foods increases the chance of getting cavities, but research also suggests it increases the chances of other painful problems like gingivitis and even periodontitis.
You need a lot less toothpaste on your brush than you think. While toothpaste commercials emphasize filling up your toothbrush with a full squeeze of toothpaste before brushing your teeth, a small amount will do the trick. You only need about a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to effectively clean your teeth. When you use this much toothpaste, you won’t struggle with overbearing minty flavor or that grainy feeling after rinsing out your mouth. As a side benefit, that tube will last even longer, so you can splurge on the kind you like best.
Brushing your teeth properly can help you stave off nasty tooth problems that would require frequent and exhausting (not to mention expensive) visits to the dentist. Eat well, brush with the right technique and use just enough toothpaste to get the job done to polish your teeth to perfection.