No doubt, you heard it just about every day from your mom or dad when you were a kid. Go brush your teeth. If you were like most kids, though, you ran into the bathroom, spent 20-30 seconds vigorously scrubbing your teeth, and out the door you went, anxious to join the neighborhood football game.
Wouldn’t it have been nice if we would have known then what we know now about oral hygiene and how it affects our overall health? Unfortunately, we didn’t. But even as adults, some of us may not understand that yes, it is important to brush our teeth twice a day. What is even more important is how we brush our teeth.
A 20-minute lightning-fast scrub just does not cut it these days. Teeth should be brushed for a minimum of twice a day, for at least two minutes per brushing. Taking the full two minutes is the only way to ensure that you properly brush all your teeth, your gum line, as well as your tongue (yes, you need to brush that too!).
So in the spirit of “it is truly never too late,” let’s examine how to properly brush our teeth to achieve the best results possible (and a bright white smile certainly doesn’t hurt either).
Start with the equipment
First things first…make sure you are using the right utensils. There are a wide range of toothbrushes, electric or manual, that are available in any pharmacy or store across the nation. It can be a bit tricky knowing which one to choose. You should look for a comfortable handle, with a brush that easily fits inside your mouth. If you still have your natural teeth, you should look for “soft” bristle strength. Electric or manual really does not matter, as long as you are using the proper technique, which brings us to step number two.
Too much or too little
Brushing your teeth after every meal is ideal, but it is not wise to be a compulsive brusher, and think that the more you brush, the whiter your teeth will become. Too much brushing can lead to gum irritation and bleeding. So stick with the basics and just brush after every meal, and do not skip. Plaque only needs 12 hours to harden into tartar build-up. Don’t give it that chance.
Which way is up?
The direction in which you brush your teeth is important as well. Some people make the mistake of brushing horizontally across their teeth. This is only moving the bacteria, and not actually removing it. Place the bristles of the brush directly on your gum line at a 45-degree angle, and use short, soft strokes moving up and down your teeth.
The starting line
You may not think about it much, but try alternating your brushing routine by starting in a different quadrant of your mouth. We tend to be creatures of habit, and if you always start in the upper right quadrant, your left side may be getting the short end of the stick, or brush in this case. Alternate where you start in your mouth, so all of your teeth are getting equal attention.
Those are just a few tips to consider when it’s time to brush. Teaching children at a young age the proper techniques of brushing will help ensure their trips to the dentist are filled with stickers and prizes, and not cavities.