Cleaning your teeth is one of those skills that everyone takes for granted. In fact, however, many people brush their teeth in completely the wrong way, resulting not only in a poor clean, which could lead to gum disease and tooth decay, but also unnecessary irritation and damage to their teeth and gums.
So here are some important points to remember when cleaning your teeth:
- To brush your teeth correctly and thoroughly you actually need to spend at least 2 minutes on the process – something most adults never do. Some of the new electric toothbrushes have built-in timers to help you maintain the cleaning process for long enough but an old-fashioned stopwatch and a traditional toothbrush will also do the trick.
- Brushing properly does not mean brushing harder – in fact, overly vigorous brushing can cause your gums to recede and lead to terrible teeth sensitivity. Use short, gentle strokes and be especially careful around the gum line – spend more time in this area, as well as the hard-to-reach back teeth. If you have any fillings, crowns or other restoration work, pay extra attention around these as well.
- A good order is to start on the outer surfaces of you upper teeth and then lower teeth. Move onto the inner surfaces of your upper and then lower teeth. Lastly, clean the chewing surfaces top and bottom. When brushing near the gumline, tilt your brush at a 45 degree angle and use gentle, rolling or sweeping movements away from the gumline.
- Brushing your tongue at the end can help with fresher breath as bacteria can accumulate on the surface of the tongue.
- If you are using a traditional toothbrush, it is best to choose one with a soft-bristled brush as this is believed by dental professionals to be the best for removing plaque and debris.
- Brushes with small heads are preferred also big head as they give better reach to all areas of your mouth, especially at the back.
- For many people, the new powered or electric toothbrushes are the better alternative as they give a much better clean, especially if you have limited manual dexterity.
- Whether traditional or electric, you should replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear and tear – or every 3 months, whichever comes first. In addition, it can be a good idea to replace your toothbrush after you have had a cold or other illness, as the bacteria and other pathogens lingering on the bristles can reintroduce infection into your body.
- If you find that your toothbrush is wearing down excessively quickly and you are constantly having to replace it, you may be brushing your teeth too hard and vigorously.
- Choosing the right toothpaste is also important. There is a wealth of choice on the market now and you can choose the right type for your teeth and situation, from tartar control to stained teeth, cavities to gingivitis and even cosmetic whitening. It is best to ask your dentist to recommend the best toothpaste for you rather than be swayed by marketing gimmicks.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly and you can follow with a mouthwash to further freshen your breath and keep bacteria at bay.
In addition to brushing daily, you should also try to floss your teeth at least once a day as most cavities result from food particles trapped between the teeth. These decaying bits of food can also attract bacterial infection and lead to gum inflammation. Flossing before bed is the best as you can be assured of clean teeth that will be free from attack from bacteria during the long hours of the night. Like toothbrushes and toothpastes, there is a now a host of different types of dental floss and dental tapes to choose from – ask your dentist to recommend the best type for you.