Brush your teeth! That’s what your parents told you time and time again. What most of us weren’t taught is HOW to brush our teeth and with what.
When it comes to brushing teeth there are a few very effective techniques. It’s best to check with your dentist or hygienist to decide which is best for you because tooth position and gum condition are unique to each person. Regular, thorough brushing is a very important step in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing removes the bacteria that promote tooth decay and plaque that can cause gum disease.
The first step is choosing a toothbrush. Anyone who has walked down the toothbrush aisle knows how confusing it can be. So many brands, sizes, colours, types of bristles; it can be a little overwhelming.
Here are some tips to helping you pick out the best hand held brush for your teeth. First, look for a smaller brush head, around 2 – 3 cm. This size brush can get to all areas of your mouth, all your teeth and your gums. Choose a brush with a wider longer handle and soft nylon bristles with rounded ends to clean effectively without hurting your gums. Some medium and hard bristled brushes can be too abrasive and wear down teeth and cause recession of the gums.
Then there are the toothbrushes you ‘plug in’. Electric toothbrushes work by using nylon bristles to stimulate the gums and clean the teeth in an oscillating motion. When first using an electric toothbrush, don’t worry if your gums bleed a little. The bleeding will stop when you learn to control the brush and your gums become healthier. Children under the age of 10 should be supervised when using an electric toothbrush. Avoid mashing the bristles of the brush against your teeth in an effort to clean them. Be gentle with yourself and your mouth; use light force and slow movements and let the toothbrush do its job.
On average, most people don’t use the proper technique when brushing with a standard toothbrush so electric toothbrushes can be a little more user friendly when it comes to reaching all areas of your mouth. Most people find they’re more thorough when it comes to getting in between the teeth leaving you with a cleaner feeling mouth. Just make sure you gently cover all areas of your teeth, gums and tongue with your electric toothbrush.
Then there are brushes like the Philips Sonicare© toothbrush. Dental patients have seen great results with these. There are three different engineering innovations that make up their brushing technology. First is the bristle velocity, which in simple terms means it creates a cleaning action that drives fluids deep into the tight spaces between your teeth and along the gum line. Then there are the contoured brush heads with precisely placed bristles to maximize coverage. The bristles are also very soft and rounded at the top by a diamond grinding wheel. Finally, there is the sonic part of Sonicare©. The brush produces a powerful cleaning action that is actually easier on your teeth than a manual or an oscillating toothbrush. It whips up the toothpaste and saliva to form an oxygen-rich foamy liquid; then directs that between and behind teeth, and even under the gum line where plaque bacteria live. As an added benefit, it also massages the gums with stimulates blood circulation.
For those of you who prefer the hand operated brushes; here are some tips on how to properly brush.
Place the toothbrush beside your teeth at a 45 degree angle and brush teeth with a gentle circular motion, pressing enough to reach the spaces between the teeth as well as the surface. Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth and don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath. Do not use a back and forth motion. This type of motion causes the gum surface to recede and that can expose the root surface or make the root surface tender – risking the wearing down of your gums.
Then there is the age old question, how long is long enough. Most people brush their teeth for under a minute – no matter which brush they use. Tooth brushing should take the same amount of time as it takes to listen to your favourite song on the radio. That’s right – you should be brushing for three to four minutes each session in order to ensure you’ve done a good job.
Some people carry a travel toothbrush with them to use at work. It will help with those quick office snacks like candy bars and potato chips that turn to acids and cause cavities. If you brush with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before bed; you may not need to use toothpaste at work; unless of course you had a lunch laden with onions and garlic. In that case, toothpaste and mouthwash are highly recommended for the sake of your fellow workers. Be sure to keep your toothbrush in a travel container and dry it after each use before returning it to its container. Change your brush at work often.
So there you have it, what to use and how to use it when keeping your mouth, teeth and gums in tip top shape. Your dentist will thank you – and so will your mouth.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.