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Brush Up on the Benefits of Brushing

We take our teeth for granted. They’ve been there as long as most of us can remember, and we assume that they always will be. However, you need to have good oral hygiene throughout your life if you want to keep your natural teeth. Proper brushing and flossing at least twice each day are starting points for good oral hygiene, but what’s the best way to brush?

Why Is It So Important to Brush Your Teeth?

After you eat or drink, a sticky substance called plaque begins to form on your teeth. Plaque is rife with bacteria and acids that immediately begin to attack your tooth enamel and cause decay and cavities. When not removed through brushing and flossing, plaque will settle between your teeth and gums and turn into a very hard substance called calculus that can only be removed by a dentist. Plaque also causes inflammation in your gums, which, left untreated, can turn into gingivitis. When you brush after each meal or snack, you remove the plaque and bacteria that can attack your teeth and gums.

Is It Really Harmful to My Teeth to Have Plaque?

Plaque is a very harmful substance that causes your tooth enamel and your gum tissues to degenerate. Eventually, plaque will cause you to lose your teeth and your jaw structure. It does this by turning into calculus and causing periodontal disease. Advanced periodontal disease will destroy your gums, attack the ligaments that hold your teeth in, and erode your jawbone. So yes, plaque is really that harmful to your teeth, and it should be removed at least twice each day through brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash.

What Brushing Habits Should I Have For Healthy Teeth?

Although it may seem like brushing is brushing, some methods are better than others. For example, brushing 10 or 20 seconds once or twice a day is better than nothing, but that’s about it. For optimal results, the American Dental Association recommends that you use the following guidelines for brushing and flossing your teeth.

  • Brushing: Ensure that you can brush all of your teeth. You may have issues with manual dexterity, your toothbrush may be the wrong size, or you may be unaware that you’re not reaching all of your teeth. Whatever the reason, be sure that your toothbrush is reaching all of your teeth. If you have a sensitive tooth, don’t ignore it. If it doesn’t get better, then schedule a dental visit.
  • Brush at least twice daily: When you brush after each meal or snack, you’re minimizing the amount of time that bacteria and food acids stay in contact with your teeth. This makes a huge impact on your oral health and considerably lessens the likelihood that you’ll develop decay, cavities, or plaque.
  • Checkups and cleanings: Even with the best oral hygiene regimen, you need to have regular dental cleanings and checkups. Not only can your hygienist notice areas that you might not be reaching with your floss and toothbrush, but they can provide tips on how to improve your daily routine. Your dentist can notice potential problems before they become major issues, so having an annual cleaning and checkup is definitely to your benefit. Semi-annual appointments are better, but if that’s not feasible, then make sure you have an annual appointment at a minimum.
  • Equipment: Make sure that you thoroughly clean your toothbrush after each use. Otherwise, bacteria can start to grow. Store your toothbrush upright and separate it from other toothbrushes. Let it air dry and avoid using closed containers to avoid the buildup of mold and bacteria.
  • Equipment replacement: Replacing your toothbrush every three months or if the bristles start to show wear will help you get the most from your brushing technique. If you’ve been ill, then replace your toothbrush when you’re well.
  • Flossing: It’s as important to floss as it is to brush. Dental floss can reach areas that may be inaccessible to your toothbrush, so be sure to floss at least once each day, preferably before bedtime.
  • Toothbrush choices: When you select a toothbrush, be sure to get one that fits comfortably in your mouth. It should be able to reach all of your teeth, and the bristles should be firm enough to remove bacteria and plaque but soft enough that they don’t damage your teeth. Many dentists recommend that their patients use battery-operated toothbrushes. They’re more efficient than manual types at cleaning the food detritus, and their patients will brush longer with a battery-operated toothbrush. Ask your dentist for recommendations if you’re unsure.
  • Technique: For the best brushing results, section your mouth into four areas and brush each area for at least 30 seconds. Use gentle pressure and hold your toothbrush at an angle to your teeth.
  • Tongue: Brushing your tongue at least once each day will help you to have fresher breath and a healthier mouth. Your taste buds are in your tongue, and they’re the perfect spot for bacteria to hide. Brushing your tongue will help reduce bacterial buildup and keep your breath fresher.
  • Motion: You can use a circular motion or an up-and-down motion; it’s just personal preference. Whichever motion you use, just be sure to brush each section for 30 seconds and use gentle pressure.
    Timing: Some people prefer to brush first, some prefer to floss first. The order doesn’t matter as long as you do both.
  • Toothpaste: There’s a toothpaste for every taste and budget anymore. It doesn’t matter which you use as long as it carries the American Dental Association seal of approval.
  • Rinsing: Even with the best oral hygiene regimen, you should still use an antibacterial mouthwash. There may be residual bacteria even after you’ve brushed and flossed, but mouthwash can remove them and leave your mouth as clean as possible. It’s also useful for those times that brushing and flossing aren’t feasible. An antibacterial mouthwash can remove bacteria and help your mouth stay as healthy as possible.

Will Brushing Improve the Health of My Teeth and Gums?

Proper brushing and flossing truly will help keep your teeth and gums healthy, as will the use of antibacterial mouthwash. Even though you’ve been brushing your teeth throughout your lifetime, brushing up on the basics of brushing will help your teeth and gums stay healthy.

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