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All Posts in Category: Brushing

how to brush teeth

How to Properly and Effectively Brush Your Teeth

The American Dental Association has recently made great strides in educating parents about childhood cavities. Because the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 42% of children have cavities in their baby teeth, the need to educate parents on proper oral hygiene is critical to instilling proper oral hygiene habits. Unfortunately, children aren’t the only ones suffering from dental problems. The American Dental Hygienist Association estimate that up to 75% of adults suffer from gum disease and may not even realize it (yet). Because many dental problems can be traced back to improper care, it is important to review the proper steps for effectively brushing your teeth.

Start with the right tools

The basics of brushing start with using the right brush and the right toothpaste. When choosing a new toothbrush, consider the following:

  • Bristles: Although there many types of bristles available, most dentists recommend a soft-bristled brush as those are much gentler on the gums.
  • Head size: It may be tempting to get the larger head to cover more area at once, but a smaller head can reach into the smaller areas, particularly the teeth furthest back.
  • Powered or non-powered toothbrush: A powered brush is a smart choice especially for those with compromised dexterity.

Regardless of which toothbrush you select, it is important to replace your toothbrush often: every three months or when the bristles start to show wear, whichever comes first. Some toothbrushes even have colored indicators that fade away when the brush is worn out. Also, consider tossing your toothbrush after a cold to prevent re-contaminating yourself.

What kind of toothpaste should I use?

Shopping for toothpaste can be overwhelming, but know that there are certain formulas for certain needs including gingivitis, plaque and tartar control, and sensitivity. If you are unsure which paste is best for you, your dentist can suggest one for you. However, regardless of what your specific dental needs are, you should choose a toothpaste with fluoride to help prevent tooth decay. Children, however, will need a training toothpaste, which usually does not have fluoride.

How to brush your teeth properly

Once you have the right brush with the correct toothpaste for your needs, you can start to brush your teeth. The first rule, and usually the most often broken rule, is the duration of brushing. Proper brushing should take at least two full minutes.

  1. Apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to your brush.
  2. Hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle and brush the outer surface of each tooth by moving the brush in a gentle circular motion. Avoid using excessive pressure and scrubbing back and forth too roughly as the delicate gums can be easily irritated.
  3. Repeat for the inside surface as well.
  4. Next, brush the chewing surfaces (tops) of your teeth. It is okay to “scrub” this section as you are not causing friction on the gums during this part.
  5. End by brushing your tongue. Bacteria can build up in the grooves of your tongue, which contributes to bad breath.

Follow these steps twice each day, once in the morning and once before bed.

 

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choosing the right toothpaste

Your Complete Guide to Choosing the Right Toothpaste

All of the toothpaste on the market today is designed to clean your teeth, but not all of them accomplish that task equally. Some products have the potential to harm your teeth, while others simply don’t do enough to protect your teeth. Determine the right balance of extra features and core cleaning power to find the toothpaste that is best for you.

ADA Approval

First, make sure you choose a product approved by the American Dental Association and displaying the seal on its packaging. There are plenty of fluoride-free, organic, and all natural options tested by the ADA for both safety and effectiveness at keeping the teeth clean. Products without these seals have not necessarily been tested for their claims and quality, so you’re gambling with the health of your mouth by using them.

Focus on Needs

Consider what your teeth need the most to choose a toothpaste with the right extras. Whitening toothpaste can’t always replace professional whitening from a dentist, but it does work to prevent surface stains that cause your white smile to lose its brightness after treatment. Most toothpastes tend to target one of more of the following conditions or needs:

  • Sensitivity, in the gums and teeth, from mild to severe pain
  • Fluoride products are essential for kids, adults who don’t get enough of it in their diet, and people with diabetes and many other conditions
  • Anti-cavity, which most products cover but which should always be checked
  • Anti-gingivitis, ranging from over the counter to prescription products for healthier gums.

Watch Out

There are a few products you don’t want to use on your teeth, and they’re often sold as cosmetic products rather than medically tested toothpaste. Any whitening toothpaste with a very abrasive ingredient, ranging from natural walnut shell to plastic microbeads, can leave your teeth with enamel damage that is permanent and hard to treat. Activated charcoal powders can also discolor teeth along with eroding your enamel. Look for toothpaste products that reinforce enamel rather than damaging it.

Picking a Toothbrush

Of course, the toothpaste still needs to be applied to the teeth with the right tools to effectively protect you from cavities and gum disease. The wrong toothbrush can damage your enamel, scratch your gums, or fail to remove trapped food from between your molars. Only use soft bristled brushes unless given advice from your dentist to the contrary. For most people, stiff bristles are too hard for their gums. The tip of each bristle should be rounded and not pointed or square so that food debris and tartar comes loose with each sweep. Replace your brush every three months even if it still looks new and fresh since bacteria can build up over time.

Need more advice about what to do to take care of your teeth? Make an appointment with your dentist for a routine cleaning or a timely inspection. You can discuss your concerns without feeling rushed and determine if your current oral health practices are sufficient for keeping your smile bright, healthy, and strong.

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