Teeth Brushing: Do This, Not That

Teeth Brushing: Do This, Not That

Brushing your teeth seems simple enough, right? Squeeze a dab of toothpaste on a brush, give your pearly whites a quick round of scrubbing, rinse, and you’re good to go.

Not so fast. Proper brushing takes more attention than most people give it. Mastering the art of toothbrushing is a habit that pays big dividends toward long-term oral health. Here are some key things to focus on:

Do This.
Give yourself enough time to brush. The American Dental Association recommends brushing for at least two minutes, twice a day. If at first this seems like an eternity, set a timer on your phone to keep yourself honest.

Not That.
Choose the wrong toothbrush. Selecting a toothbrush from the ever-growing selection at the supermarket can feel kind of daunting. But don’t over-complicate things. First, make sure whatever brush you choose has soft bristles that can bend, which helps remove bacteria and loosen plaque from your teeth and under the gumline. Pick a brush with a head size appropriate to your mouth and that reaches everywhere it needs to.within your mouth. Finally, consider investing in an electric toothbrush. Studies show people who use an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay, and hold onto their teeth for longer. The electric versions also come with a built-in two-minute timer — no guesswork on timing!

Do This.
Use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. But there’s no need to waste money on products with extra whiteners and additives, which can irritate sensitive spots on your teeth. Keep it simple, and your teeth will thank you for it.

Not That.
Brush your teeth like you’re scrubbing your dirty dishes. It’s oh-so-tempting to brush your teeth vigorously so they feel really “clean.” But plaque is actually soft and loose, so all that scrubbing is unnecessary—think about giving your teeth a “massage” when you brush.

Do This.
Use the right brushing technique. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums and ease your brush back and forth in short strokes, remembering to use a light touch. Brush the outer surfaces, the insides of the teeth, and the chewing surfaces. Give some extra love to those hard-to-reach teeth and any fillings or crowns, which are common traps for food.

Not That.
Brush your teeth horizontally. Instead, start from the gum and move vertically up and down in small, circular motions. This helps remove plaque by getting into the crevices of the teeth.

Do This.
Pay attention to your gumline. It’s easy to do a rush job and focus only on brushing your actual teeth. But you need to get those bristles under the 2 or 3 millimeters of tissue where your tooth comes outside the gum, where bacteria often lurk. Using a soft toothbrush with flexible bristles—and angling the brush at a 45-degree angle against the gumline—is the best way to ensure you’re reaching the gumline.

Do This.
Dispose of your toothbrush (or replace the head on an electric brush) regularly. After three months, excessive wear, or a recent illness, it’s time to toss your brush and get a new one.

Not That.
Rush to brush right after a meal. Seems like the logical thing to do, but brushing right after eating that burger or slice of pizza is a bad idea. The abrasives in toothpaste, combined with the acids left on your teeth from that meal you just ate, can erode the enamel of your teeth. It’s best to wait 15-20 minutes after eating before brushing—this allows the saliva in your mouth to work its magic on that acid.

Check out this handy visual on teeth brushing from the ADA—and remember, your team at CNS Dental is always here to answer questions and be your trusted resource for information on your dental health.