How’s your brush stroke? Just because you’ve been brushing your teeth for as long as you can remember it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re brushing correctly.
In fact, you may actually be causing a little dental damage to both your tooth enamel and your gum line. Luckily, you’re never too old to re-learn how to brush your teeth.
Here are some tips to help you brush your teeth like a pro.
- You Go Back and Forth – Stay the course and keep it circular. Horizontal strokes along your gum line can erode your gum tissue. Instead of the horizontal stroke, angle your tooth brush at a 45 degree angle, aim for your gum line, and gently brush in short, circular strokes.
- Brushing Too Hard – More brush power won’t make your teeth any cleaner to cleaner or healthier, but it may cause some damage to your teeth and gums, such as a receding gum line. If you notice that your gums bleed after brushing, you may need to ease off your power stroke. Think of it like you’re massaging your teeth, not scrubbing them (to death). One tip – check the bristles as your brush. If they bend, you’re brushing too hard.
- Your Bristles are Too Stiff– Don’t be so hard on yourself! Harder bristles aren’t going to make your teeth cleaner either. They’re actually more likely to wear down your tooth enamel. Loosen up with a softer bristle, which are actually more effective at cleaning than hard bristles. And if you’re the sensitive type, don’t take it personally; just consider using a toothbrush with extra-soft bristles.
- You’re Too Fast – Life’s short, brush longer, well, at least for two minutes. If you’re brushing correctly, with not too much force and the correct bristles, two minutes is adequate for cleaning and helps your teeth absorb toothpaste fluoride. How do you know you’ve reached 2 minutes? Use a timer on your phone. One benefit of electric brushes is that they have self-timers to help guide you through the two minutes.
- It’s OK to Say Goodbye – There comes a point in every relationship with your toothbrush when you’re just going to have to move on. And this doesn’t make you a bad person. Tossing your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months is actually condoned by the American Dentist Association, as bacteria and food particles start accumulating on the bristles and the handle. Use electric? Be sure to change heads and to also clean the handle.
- Neglecting Hard to Reach Areas – Your front teeth usually get all glory, but don’t forget to spread the love when it comes to cleaning your molars, as well as the inner surfaces of your teeth. Which area gets forgotten the most? The inner surface of your lower front teeth.
- Ignoring Your Tongue – Don’t leave your tongue out of your daily toothbrushing. Your tongue contains a lot of bacteria from what you eat and drink. It’s also a prime culprit for bad breath. Clean the front, and even the back, of your tongue. You’ll feel cleaner. And everyone around you will appreciate it too!
- Forgetting the Gum Line – Bacteria loves to hang out within your gum line too, but that’s the area we often forget to clean. The longer bacteria lingers in this area, the more likely it can lead to gum disease. You can effectively reach this area by titling your brush at a 45 degree angle and gently reach the area where your gums meet the teeth.
- Rinsing Your Mouth with Water After Brushing –The moment water enters the mix it cuts down
- You Don’t Mix it Up – Every day is a new day, yet most of us start brushing our teeth in the same place. So, what’s wrong with this? By the time you reach the last portion of your daily brushing, you may wind up paying less attention to a particular area of your teeth because you want to hurry up or you’re bored. The American Dental Association actually recommends starting in a different place each time so that all your teeth receive the same amount of tender loving care.
- You Didn’t Rinse Your Brush – Don’t give bacteria an opportunity to linger on your toothbrush. Always rinse off your toothbrush to remove any food debris and toothpaste.
Good oral hygiene starts at home. Adding a few of these tips into your daily tooth brushing will go a long ways towards protecting your teeth and gums, while also keeping them free of plaque and cavities. It will also compliment your semi-annual teeth cleanings and help reduce any unexpected dental issues during your dental exams. Now that’s something to smile about.