First of all, let me tell you, I hate to floss. While I'm aware that dental health is important, I haven't always put it first. That being said, I have made some big changes in the last five years and learned a lot along the way.
You have your teeth for your entire life, with a bit of luck and some basic care. Why not make the most of them and get to know what you need to do in order to give your teeth the love they deserve. I hear a lot about body love, but what about teeth? Don't they deserve a little love?
This old adage of "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" can certainly apply to your teeth.
You will probably be surprised to learn that, according to the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, 37.9 million Americans came to require dentures in 2020. Don't let yourself become one of the statistics. Get your dental health in check and find out if you are brushing your teeth properly.
To start, brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes is the first line of defense against bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. Those are three things you don't want to be known for and 4 minutes a day is not long.
Don't feel like brushing? 2% of the population admits they don't brush AT ALL. Well, the consequences of not brushing can be quite severe. Here are but a few:
- Stained teeth
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Bad breath
- Long-term health problems
The key to keeping your smile looking and feeling great throughout your life is vigilant preventive care. This starts at home, with brushing your teeth.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes each time, but it's not as easy as just go round and round.
Common Mistakes People Make When Brushing Their Teeth
Too Much Pressure
The harder you brush, the better it is, right? Wrong. Compulsive or over-vigorous brushing can lead to oral health problems and put your mouth at risk for dental abrasion, tooth sensitivity, and gum recession.
If you think you're brushing too hard, you probably are. A sure way to figure it out though is to simply check your toothbrush. If the bristles get flattened and frayed within a couple of weeks, you have your answer.
You Don't Replace Your Brush
How long have you had your toothbrush? If the only time you're replacing your toothbrush is when you go see the dentist, then you're certainly not replacing it as frequently as you should be. Sure, you might love the way it works or how it feels, but after three months, you should be heading to the store to get a new toothbrush.
Of course, if your bristles are frayed, the color has changed, or the brush looks in any way dirty, you should be replacing it far before three months.
You're Using The Wrong Toothbrush
There are so many toothbrush options at the store, it's easy to get overwhelmed and just pick whichever is cheaper. Let's get one thing straight: You may think stiff bristles will do a better job of cleaning your teeth but they increase your chances of dental abrasion and gum recession.
Most dental professionals agree that a soft-bristled brush is best for removing plaque and debris from your teeth. Also, size does matter and for once, smaller is better. A smaller brush can reach more of those hard-to-reach areas than a big one.
Brushing From Side To Side Or Straight Up And Down
It's recommended that you use a circular motion with a toothbrush placed in your mouth at a 45-degree angle. You want to make sure you go at it right so that you have the best line of attack to remove food particles and bacteria found on your teeth. Powered toothbrushes have the advantage here in that they are just more efficient. If you are older and losing your hand strength or dexterity, you might want to make the switch. While a top-of-the-line model can run you hundreds of dollars, you can find many affordable options for as little as $6 these days.
I personally use both. I primarily use my normal toothbrush but let my powered toothbrush do the work 4-5 times a week.
Make sure to brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
Brushing Too Fast
I have a little challenge for you. Next time you brush your teeth, turn on the timer on your phone. Be honest, did you brush for anywhere close to two-minutes? I was guilty of going too quick and spending just over a minute. As mentioned, we should be brushing twice a day for two minutes so even if you don't want to time yourself, brush for longer than you think you have to.
You Brush At The Wrong Time
Do you brush before breakfast or after? When we sleep plaque-causing bacteria in our mouths multiply. As gross as it sounds, this is why we sometimes wake up with a “mossy” taste in our mouth and “morning breath.” Getting in there with your brush right away puts an end to that mess, washing the bacteria away and coating our teeth with a protective barrier against acidic food. I get it, orange juice and toothpaste tastes gross, but the damage you are inflicting on your teeth is worse.
The best times to brush are as soon as you wake up and before bedtime.
You Ignore The Gums & Tongue
Bacteria LOVE to hide in your gum line and this is an area we often miss. This is another reason that a soft flexible brush will do the best work on your teeth. You need to do your best to get under the gum line using a sweeping motion. Then, brush your tongue to get rid of any bacterial residue that has gotten on your tongue during the brushing process. That will do the trick!
You Get Lazy
Look, I'm not here to judge. I got lazy. I just spent an arm and a leg getting my teeth to a "decent" condition. That's why I took the time to share what I've learned. This last tip is by far the one I've used the most. Just do it. Did I fall asleep on the couch and wake up to go to bed at 2 am and begrudgingly brush my teeth. Yes, I did. I don't want to get dentures and it literally took me 2 minutes. Chances are you'd rather have a full set of clean teeth than a mouth full of raggedy rotten ones. You need to brush twice a day for at least two minutes, and at least one of those times needs to be "exceptional." Brush, floss, use mouthwash, the whole shebang. If I can do it, so can you.
Now that you know how to properly brush your teeth here are the rest of the suggestions that The Mayo Clinic advises:
- Floss daily.
- Use mouthwash after brushing and flossing.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit sugary food and drinks.
- Avoid frequent snacking.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are irregular or splayed.
- Schedule regular dental checkups with X-rays and cleanings.