Seeing the dentist on a regular basis for routine checkups and cleanings is an important part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy and strong. But that’s just part of the story. Having a good home care routine is essential, and that starts with knowing the right way to brush.
Choose the Right Brush
To make sure you reach all the nooks and crannies around your teeth, opt for a toothbrush with soft bristles. Soft brushes also reduce the risk of gum irritation that can in turn lead to receding gums. Electric and manual brushes are both fine - just choose the one you feel most comfortable using.
Perfect Your Technique
Once you’ve got the brush, here’s the right way to use it:
- Place the bristles at the base of your teeth where they meet your gums, angling the brush slightly outward at about a 45-degree angle from your teeth. Gently brush or roll the bristles upward along the tooth surfaces, being sure to brush every tooth.
- Follow a pattern to make sure you don’t skip any areas. For instance, focus first on the outer surfaces of your upper and lower teeth, then the back surfaces and then the chewing surfaces.
- Use short strokes and be gentle. While it may seem like a stronger brushing motion will remove more plaque, using an aggressive “scrubbing” motion can actually damage your tooth surfaces and your gums.
- Pay special attention to cleaning the gum line, the area where disease-causing plaque is most likely to be found. Also take some extra care around your hard-to-reach back teeth and around restorations like bridges and crowns.
- Finally, gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria that can cause cavities and bad breath.
Replace your toothbrush every three months or more often if it shows signs of wear.
While technique is really important, it’s also important to make sure you brush for the right amount of time. Most of us brush our teeth in the morning when we’re rushing to get out the door or just before bed, when we’re so tired, all we can think about is drifting off to sleep. And that means it’s tempting to speed through brushing so we can get on to whatever’s next on our list. But that’s a big mistake. Plenty of studies show you’ll get the best results from aiming for about two minutes with each brushing session - and studies also show most people rarely hit that two-minute mark.
For kids (or fun-loving adults), consider a toothbrush that plays music for two minutes or go the DIY route and hum a two-minute song. Use your cellphone’s stopwatch or timer function or invest in a simple timer to leave on your bathroom counter.
Refresh Your Skills
Just because you’ve been brushing your teeth for most of your life, that doesn’t mean you can’t use some professional guidance to help improve your technique - and your results. Be sure to ask your hygienist or your dentist for feedback about your brushing technique. They can look for areas where your brushing habits need improvement and provide you with helpful tips to make sure you keep your teeth and gums as healthy as can be. Plus, they can demonstrate the right way to floss so you remove as much plaque as possible without harming your gums.
If it’s been awhile since your last dental checkup or if you have questions or concerns about your oral health, we can help. Give Princeton Center for Dental Aesthetics & Implants a call, 609-924-1414 and schedule an office visit so we can help you enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.