The majority of people in the US will brush their teeth every day. It is important to make sure that teeth are properly brushed in order to maximize the removal of plaque and to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Listed below are several brushing tips for you to optimize your oral health!
The first brushing tip that needs to be mentioned is to brush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line. Upwards for your top teeth and downwards for your bottom teeth. When the bristles are placed at a 45-degree angle, they are able to efficiently remove plaque hiding under your gum line.
Brushing strokes are very debatable. The American Dental Association (ADA) says to “gently move the brush back and forth in short, tooth-wide strokes.” These are basically short horizontal strokes. For the inside of your front teeth, the ADA recommends brushing vertically in short “up and down strokes”.
At the NYU Dental School, Director of Education for Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Courtney Quinn, says they recommend a small, circular motion for brushing. Dr. Quinn states "we recommend brushing half on the gums, half on the teeth”.
Regardless of which brushing method you choose, make sure to brush gently. You do not want to apply a lot of pressure on your teeth with your toothbrush. The circular motion of brushing is usually how kids are taught to brush.
It is fine to teach your child to brush this way, as it is probably hard enough to get them to do it, to begin with!
For the rest of us, extremely short horizontal strokes, almost like vibrations, would be optimal. You do not want to scrub half your mouth with one stroke! Stay in one place with very gentle strokes and then move on to another section of your mouth.
Clean two teeth at a time.
The key to this is gentle stroking. This is why it was said only ten times! Scrubbing hard puts you at very high risk of enamel erosion which can lead to tooth sensitivity. It is important to note that these tips are only applicable to manual toothbrushes.
It is critical not to over brush because not only will it wear away enamel, but it can wear away gum tissue which will lead to receding gums!
If you are using an electric toothbrush, do not perform any additional stroking!
The electric toothbrush will do all the work for you. All you need to do is move the brush gently from one tooth to the next. Adding excessive pressure or moving your electric toothbrush from side to side will be extremely damaging. Electric toothbrushes are definitely recommended for healthy teeth because they make thousands of strokes per minute.
Some of the better models make about 31,000 strokes per minutes compared to 300 of a manual toothbrush! Because of this, electric toothbrushes are generally able to remove more plaque than a regular toothbrush.
The downside is not everyone enjoys using an electric toothbrush because it can feel irritating to the teeth and gums, almost like a tickle. However, you do accustom to them quickly.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends to brush your teeth for 2 minutes 2 times a day. Now 2 minutes might seem like a short amount of time, but in brushing time it actually isn’t.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the average person only brushes for 45-70 seconds per day! That is less than half the time that the ADA recommends which is 4 minutes per day (2minutes x 2).
When referring to a study that had participants time themselves brushing their teeth, Ed Hewlett, DDS, professor of restorative dentistry and associate dean for outreach and diversity at UCLA School of Dentistry stated “some people thought they’d brushed for a couple of minutes, but it can be less than half a minute. Our perception of how long we’re brushing is not very accurate.”
To ensure you are bushing for a full two minutes simply use the timer on your phone. You can also get creative and play a video that lasts for a full two minutes. You can even invest in an electric toothbrush that has a built-in timer. Some electric toothbrushes will divide the 4 quadrants of your mouth into 30-second intervals!
Any way you choose is fine as long as you have completed the entire two-minute brushing duration. If you choose to brush 3 times a day that is fine too. Some people who have 5-6 meals per day might feel that their teeth feel “dirty” sooner so it is ok to add a third brushing session as long as you are brushing properly and gently. However, do not go overboard and brush more than three times in one day!
The most ideal times to brush your teeth is in the morning and in the evening. Dr. Richard Marques says "you should wait at least 30 minutes after eating to brush the teeth, otherwise the acid can damage the tooth surface. Brushing before bed is really important, as otherwise the food can sit against the surface of the teeth and cause them to decay overnight."
A great way to brush is to divide your teeth into 4 quadrants: Upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left. This will ensure you are brushing your mouth evenly and not just focusing the majority of your attention on a particular area of your mouth. Always start from a quadrant that you prefer, brush for 30 seconds and then go to the next quadrant. Make this a habit so that ultimately all of your teeth will be brushed equally.
There are three exposed sides of a tooth while brushing. These sides include the outer surface (buccal), the inner surface (lingual), and the chewing surface (occlusal). When brushing each quadrant for 30 seconds, it is crucial to divide each set of 30 seconds into three: 10 seconds per surface. The front bottom teeth are usually prone to plaque buildup which eventually calcifies into tartar. Tartar is hardened plaque and will not come off with simple brushing. Make sure to do a good job brushing in this area!
Flossing is very important to reach the adjacent tooth surface. Without flossing, the mesial and distal surfaces of your teeth will not be cleaned properly. This creates risk for gingivitis and cavities forming between your teeth.
Flossing removes the plaque in between your teeth just like a toothbrush removes plaque on the exposed surfaces of your teeth. If you have bleeding gums while flossing, this is an indicator that pathogenic bacteria are living in your mouth. If you remove bacteria from the gum line, your body won’t send blood cells to the area to fight the infection.
Ultimately, flossing will actually reduce the occurrence of bleeding gums. After a week of flossing, bleeding should completely come to a halt. If this isn’t the case for you it is very important to see your dentist.
When flossing, make sure to scrub both sides of the adjacent tooth. You should be flossing at least once a day. The best time to floss your teeth is before going to bed and after brushing so that you don't let plaque and bacteria linger in your mouth overnight.
Always use a fresh piece of floss about 18 inches long.
If this isn’t enough, simply take another piece, but do not use floss that already collected plaque in a previous tooth!
If you are pregnant, flossing is even more important because gum disease is linked to premature and low-weight birth.
Cleaning your tongue is just as crucial as brushing your teeth and flossing. Many people skip this step. Make sure you are not one of them! Your tongue is covered with bacteria and food particles that need to be swept away to maintain optimal oral hygiene.
“Your tongue is not smooth. There are crevices and elevations all over the tongue, and the bacteria will hide in these areas unless it is removed” says John D. Kling, DDS, of Alexandria, Virginia.
The bacteria that builds up on your tongue (and teeth) are known as a biofilm. Rinsing with water or a mouthwash will not get rid of the lower layers of the biofilm. The outer layers of the biofilm may be washed away or destroyed but this isn’t enough. The buildup of the bacteria on your tongue leads to bad breath and even tooth decay.
You don’t need a tongue scraper or a special tongue brush to clean your tongue. Your toothbrush will do just fine. Brush from as far back as you can reach and straight down. Do not apply much pressure. Brush your tongue twice a day after you have brushed your teeth. Make sure to rinse with water afterward!
Rinsing with water is absolutely necessary after brushing your teeth/tongue and flossing. Gargling with water is also a good idea to make sure you have washed out all the gunk and toothpaste residue from your mouth.
Using mouthwash is like the icing on the cake. It is not necessary but absolutely recommended. Mouthwash is not just used to freshen breath. “It can also reduce gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay, tartar, and plaque, and they can whiten,” says Mark Wolff, DDS, Ph.D., chair of cariology and comprehensive care at New York University College of Dentistry. Important to note that Mouthwash is NOT a substitute for brushing and flossing.
Regular brushing and flossing will not be effective for disinfecting all the oral pathogens in your mouth. Some companies claim that brushing and flossing alone will only clean 25% of your mouth. While this might not be exactly true, it still makes sense to use a mouthwash to ensure that your oral tissue, such as your inner cheeks, lower and upper gum-line, back of your tongue and throat are properly disinfected.
Blisque Organic Mouthwash is a great addition to your oral care regimen because it will not only kill bad breath and create fresh breath for hours, it will also fight oral pathogens and provide a pH balanced environment in your mouth to neutralize bacterial acids. It does not burn or string and will not stain your teeth blue or any other color. Blisque Organic Mouthwash is completely non-toxic so you can allow the residue to remain in your mouth after rinsing. In fact, allowing the mouthwash residue to remain is something that we recommend.
There are so many toothbrushes on the market to choose from today that it can become frustrating on which one to go with. Some things to look for in a toothbrush are the brush head size and bristles. The brush head of your toothbrush should not be overly large. A smaller brush head will be better at reaching those difficult to reach areas in your mouth (molars). Electric toothbrushes already come with small brush heads for your convenience.
When searching for a toothbrush, choose one that has “soft” bristles. Skip the “medium” and “firm” bristles. Soft bristles can gently get down under the gum line to remove plaque. "Your gum is like a little turtleneck collar, and you need to get under that collar," explains Dr. Cram. "Hard and medium brushes don't do that and can actually abrade the gum.”
Going with an electric toothbrush is a great choice. Electric toothbrushes are able to remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush because of the amount of strokes they are able to achieve in a short amount of time. As mentioned before, electric toothbrushes also have built-in timers and some even let you know when you are brushing too hard!
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you change your toothbrush 3-4 times per month or even sooner if your bristles frayed.
When a toothbrush is manufactured, a machine cuts a group of bristles to make them the same height. At this point, if you took the nylon bristles under a microscope you would see that they are extremely sharp and would wear away your precious enamel.
Fortunately, there is an additional manufacturing step that treats the bristles so that they are rounded into hemispherical, soft domes. This extra step is what makes the bristles safe to use on your teeth. After being rounded, the bristles are far less abrasive than when they were freshly cut and safe to use because they will not damage your enamel. The “roundness” of these bristles begin to sharpen following 3-4 months of use and will not be as effective at removing plaque. They will also ruin your enamel. So please make sure to change your toothbrush accordingly.
When Not To Brush
After you have finished eating your meal it is best not to brush because you will have acid remaining on your teeth from the food you just ate. For this reason, it is best to wait 15-20 minutes before brushing. Within this time frame, saliva will neutralize the acids in your mouth.
If you want to get the food remnants out of our mouth after a meal, simply rinse with water or mouthwash.
A combination of acids from food paired with the abrasives in the toothpaste can negatively impact your teeth because you are helping the acid erode your enamel.
Brushing For Teeth Whitening
Most people will brush their teeth in hopes of getting their pearly whites even whiter than they already are. We all have that obsession and are constantly looking for new ways for our teeth to get a shade brighter.
A teeth whitening session at a dental clinic will cost several hundred dollars.
However, a professional teeth whitening session will be much more effective than any over the counter product, including teeth whitening strips, whitening toothpastes, and whitening mouthwashes.
Always avoid whitening toothpaste products.
These are extremely abrasive to your teeth and will do much more harm than good. Also, remember not to brush hard. Brushing with heavy pressure will not make your teeth whiter, but what it will do is scrub away your enamel just like whitening toothpaste will.
Before reaching for your toothbrush holder remember the tips in this article. Just as with anything else in life, the main thing is to be consistent. Try not to break the habit. Do not apply these brushing tips only for the week prior to your dental appointment. Instead, follow them on a regular basis. It might seem like a lot of work at first but it only takes a few minutes of your day. In the long run, you will avoid several dental complications and save money!
Following these tips will lead to optimal oral health and a life full of beautiful smiles!