couple brushing teeth

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

From an early age, we are told how you should take care of our teeth, but are you supplied with the knowledge and techniques on how to properly take care of them?  Many people learn ineffective or damaging habits over time.  Without properly addressing your at home oral care, not only can these bad habits inflict a variety of problems on your teeth, but your overall oral and general health as well.


Frequency and Duration


Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth twice per day for at least two minutes each time. Many people make a mistake by only brushing once, typically when they wake up. During the day, your mouth is exposed to a lot of things that can cause decay when not removed. Brushing your teeth at least twice per day can be more important than you think. Your teeth cover a lot of surface area and each surface needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Allotting two minutes per brushing cycle twice a day aides in ensuring that  you are spending enough time cleaning each part of your mouth.


Choose the Right Brush


You are probably aware of the vast, extensive, and rather overwhelming selection of toothbrushes at your local grocery store.  Choosing the right tool for the job has great significance in providing a profound effect on success with your at home care. You want to choose a toothbrush that has soft bristle. A brush that is too hard has the potential to wear down the enamel on your teeth, and even cause damage to your gums.  A hard brush is useful in removing stuck on or stubborn build-up, but a soft brush is recommended for routine  maintenance. 

Not only should you choose the correct toughness of your toothbrush, but you should also consider the shape and length of your brush head, and what works best for your mouth and teeth. Within the multitude of options down the grocery store aisle, there is also a selection of brushes with different shapes designated for different purposes that should be selected based on what you want to accomplish. It is recommended that you replace your toothbrush every three months, after colds or illness, and/or the bristles are damaged and worn down. 


The Benefits of an Electric Toothbrush


When put into perspective, an electric toothbrush is essentially doing the fine motor skills that you should typically be doing with a manual toothbrush.  Electric toothbrushes provide more motion and attention to your tooth’s surface per second that the human hand and a manual brush can do.  This is why electric toothbrushes are found to decrease more plaque and gingivitis than manual toothbrushes.

Like manual brushes, there are different options for electric toothbrushes as well.  While most electric brushes are considered to be better and do more than your manual toothbrush, how do they compare to other electric toothbrushes?  There are many differences in these as well, but studies have shown that oscillating or rotating toothbrushes seem to work better than a toothbrush that simply vibrates.


Brushing Your Teeth


There are multiple methods on how to brush your teeth.  A helpful tool to help ensure proper and thorough brushing is to focus on one section at a time.  If you draw an imaginary line in-between the top two front teeth, and the bottom two front teeth, you now have four different sections: top right, top left, bottom left, and bottom right.  Considering it is suggested to brush your teeth in two-minute intervals, this leaves thirty seconds for each section.  Starting in whichever section you prefer, use circular strokes avoiding horizontal scrubbing.

The toothbrush should be held gently to the teeth and angled to ensure plaque disruption at the gum line, along with the tooth’s surface, without directly or firmly brushing gums in order to avoid damage such as scratches.  Scratches or scrapes have potential to become infected over time.  Following a pattern can help you obtain the best results and make certain you do not miss any areas.


Follow Up with Other Oral Hygiene Habits


While brushing is a great way to improve your oral health, you need to follow up with other oral hygiene habits.  Flossing at least once per day to get in-between the teeth and areas a toothbrush cannot reach, as well as incorporating a daily mouth rinse to aid in removing residual plaque are just as important as brushing. Combining several cleaning methods is the best way to ensure that you are practicing effective home care.


Ready to Get Started?


If you are looking for assistance in maintaining your dental health, contact Oakdale Dental Associates at 413-536-1782 to schedule your appointment. Our dentist and hygienists can help you come up with an effective and personalized plan tailored to your needs to improve your oral health.