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Brush Up on the Benefits of Brushing

Brushing your teeth is one of those basic habits that we do daily without thinking. However, we’re so accustomed to this habit that we often become lackadaisical about it, which causes our oral health to deteriorate. Brushing and flossing correctly and frequently take just a few minutes of your time, but can have lifelong positive results.

Why Should I Be Concerned About Brushing My Teeth?

Since everything that goes into your mouth will ultimately travel to the rest of your body, it’s important to make sure that bacteria and disease have as little chance of entering as possible. Brushing up on your brushing skills can minimize the number of bacteria and germs that can enter your bloodstream and improve both your physical and oral health. Poor oral health has been linked to serious diseases such as diabetes, heart attacks, pneumonia, and stroke. The few minutes you spend each day brushing and flossing properly can provide you with lifelong health benefits, so it’s time well spent.

Is Plaque Really Harmful to My Teeth?

After you eat or drink, a sticky substance called plaque remains in your mouth. It’s the substance that makes your teeth feel fuzzy, and it’s full of bacteria. When not removed through proper brushing and flossing, the plaque settles in the crevices of your teeth and gums and causes inflammation in your gums. This is the beginning of gingivitis, which can be cured if treated at this stage.

However, if the plaque isn’t removed, it becomes calculus, which is a very hard substance that can only be removed by a dentist. Untreated gingivitis can cause you to lose your teeth. It can destroy your gums and erode your jawbone. It can also cause facial distortions, but it can be prevented by a program of good oral hygiene.

What’s the Proper Way to Brush for Healthy Teeth?

If you’re unsure about the proper method for brushing and flossing your teeth, you can ask your dentist for advice. Also, the American Dental Association recommends following these procedures for the best dental health:

Brushing

  • Brush each tooth: We assume that when we brush, all of our teeth receive the benefit. However, this isn’t always the case because some teeth are hard to reach, or you may have a sensitive tooth. You’ll probably tend to avoid sensitive teeth, but they’re the ones that need the most attention. A highly or suddenly sensitive tooth usually indicates a local infection or irritation, so it should receive extra attention.
  • For the best results, brush your teeth in the morning and before you go to bed. This ensures that the acids and bacteria from your food don’t remain on your teeth throughout the night. Twice-daily brushing means that your teeth have had less contact with the acids and bacteria, so you’re not as likely to develop decay or cavities.
  • Tongue: Your tongue has a very rough surface – that’s where your taste buds are located – which makes it the ideal surface for bacteria to hide. Brushing your tongue at least once daily will help to remove decay-causing bacteria, and you’ll have fresher breath as well.

Dentist Visits

  • Cleanings and checkups: Even though you may have an excellent oral hygiene regimen, the American Dental Association recommends that you have regular dental checkups and cleanings. Every six months is optimal, but you should have annual checkups at a minimum. Sometimes, issues can crop up that will only be noticed by a dental professional, so it’s important not to skip your scheduled checkups and cleanings.

Brushing and Flossing Equipment

  • Equipment: Make sure that you thoroughly clean your toothbrush after each use. Sometimes, minute food particles can become lodged between the bristles, and they’ll encourage the growth of bacteria. When your toothbrush is clean, store it upright and apart from other toothbrushes. It should have room to air dry. Don’t cover it or store it in a closed container because that will encourage the growth of bacteria and mold.
  • Equipment replacement: Every three months, you should replace your toothbrush. If the bristles become worn, then replace the toothbrush. If you’ve been sick, replace your toothbrush when you’ve recovered.
  • Toothbrush choices: Your toothbrush should fit comfortably in your mouth. If it’s too small, it will require more brushing time. If it’s too large, it may not be able to reach all the areas of your teeth. The bristles should be stiff enough to remove the bacteria and plaque but not so stiff that they damage your tooth enamel. Many dentists now recommend battery-operated toothbrushes because their patients are more inclined to brush longer and be more meticulous in their brushing habits.
  • Toothpaste: There’s a mind-boggling variety of toothpaste available now, so it may be difficult to decide which is the best for you. Your dentist is the best source of information on the type of toothpaste you should be using, but make sure that it carries the American Dental Association seal of approval.

Flossing and Rinsing

  • Flossing: Daily flossing should be an integral part of your oral hygiene regimen. Ideally, you should floss after each meal or snack, but at a minimum, you should floss before you go to bed.
  • Rinsing: Dedication to brushing and flossing should be an integral part of your daily hygiene routine, but rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash can provide additional protection against cavities and decay. For those times that you’re unable to brush or floss during the day, an antibacterial mouthwash can provide similar benefits.

Technique and Timing

  • Technique: Whenever you brush, imagine that your mouth is divided into four sections and brush each section for a minimum of 30 seconds. Be sure to brush all surfaces of your teeth – inside, outside, top, and bottom. Brush with gentle pressure so that you don’t damage your tooth enamel, and hold your toothbrush at an angle to your teeth.
  • Motion: Whether you use a circular motion or a back-and-forth motion, it’s important not to press too hard. Doing so can cause striations in your tooth enamel and hasten the need for restorative dental work.
  • Timing: It doesn’t matter whether you brush first or floss first as long as you brush and floss at least twice daily and brush for at least two minutes each time.

Can Proper Brushing Really Improve the Health of My Teeth and Gums?

Proper brushing and flossing skills are essential for healthy teeth and gums. Over time, many of us shorten our entire brushing time to the 30 seconds that should be allotted to each quadrant. Brushing at least twice daily for at least two minutes each time, flossing at least once daily, and using an antibacterial mouthwash will improve the health of your teeth and gums. With proper care and maintenance, your teeth can last a lifetime.

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