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Brush Up on the Benefits of Brushing

You probably don’t think much about brushing up on your brushing skills, but that may be what you need to ensure that you have good dental health. If your tooth-brushing skills have deteriorated over time and you now spend maybe a half-minute brushing in the morning, maybe some refresher tips can help you boost your tooth-brushing skills while you improve your oral hygiene.

Why Is It So Important to Frequently Brush Your Teeth?

When you eat or drink, especially foods or beverages that are high in carbohydrates and sugar, bacteria remain in your mouth in the form of plaque, which is a very sticky substance. If plaque isn’t removed at least daily, then it will encourage the growth of bacteria, which is harmful to your teeth and gums. Plaque has been linked to serious health issues such as diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, and pneumonia. The more often you brush and floss, the less plaque there is in your mouth.

How Does Plaque Destroy My Teeth and Gums?

When plaque isn’t removed through brushing and flossing, it settles in the spaces between your teeth and gums. Eventually, it will become calculus, which is a very hard substance that can only be removed by a dental professional. Underneath the calculus, the bacteria continue to multiply. In time, they will destroy your teeth and gums.

Initially, the bacteria in plaque will irritate your gums and cause inflammation. This is the first stage of gum disease, also called gingivitis. At this stage, your gum disease can be completely reversed if it’s treated properly. When left untreated, gingivitis will become periodontal disease and will begin to destroy the ligaments that hold your teeth in your gums, and you could lose all or some of your teeth. Additionally, the bone in your jaw could deteriorate, and you could lose your facial structure. At this point, your gum disease can’t be reversed. Your only option is painful and expensive reconstructive dentistry. However, all of this can be prevented by using good oral hygiene that includes proper brushing and flossing techniques.

What Proper Brushing Habits Provide Healthy Teeth?

If you have questions on the proper methods for brushing and flossing, then your dentist is an excellent resource for answers. You can also consider the advice of the American Dental Association on the best techniques for maintaining good oral hygiene, which is:

  • Brushing: Make sure that you brush all your teeth and don’t skip any. This may sound obvious, but we usually brush when we’re not awake or we’re exhausted and not as attentive as we should be. If there are additional issues such as a toothbrush that’s the wrong size, a sensitive tooth, or issues with manual dexterity, then it’s easy to miss a tooth or two. If you have a sensitive tooth and the sensitivity doesn’t abate, then be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist because you may have an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
  • Brush at least twice a day: When you brush after each meal or snack, then you minimize the amount of time that bacteria remain in contact with your teeth and gums. This can dramatically increase both your oral health and physical health.
  • Checkups and cleanings: No matter the quality of your oral hygiene regimen, the American Dental Association recommends that you have regular dental checkups. Twice yearly is optimal, but at least once a year. Your dental hygienist can provide a deeper cleaning than you’re able to, and your dentist may be able to spot minor issues before they escalate.
  • Equipment Selection: Your toothbrush should be sized to fit your mouth. If it’s too large or too small, then it will be less effective than it should be. It needs to have bristles that are firm enough to remove bacteria and plaque, but not so firm that they damage your tooth enamel. Many dentists now recommend battery-operated toothbrushes over the manual type. The battery-operated ones brush in the proper motion, and patients brush longer since it’s easier. They’ve also been shown to reduce plaque and gingivitis better than manual toothbrushes.
  • Equipment replacement: No matter which type of toothbrush you select, you should change it every three months or sooner if you notice that the bristles are becoming worn. Change it immediately after you’ve been sick, and be sure to store it standing upright and away from other toothbrushes. It needs to air dry, so avoid storing it in a closed container because that encourages mold and bacteria growth.
  • Flossing: It’s as important to floss as it is to brush. Flossing can reach areas that are inaccessible to your toothbrush, so you’ll remove more bacteria and food particles when you floss as well as brush. Ideally, you should floss after every meal or snack. If you only floss once each day, it should be just before bedtime, and don’t eat anything before going to bed.
  • Technique: To ensure that your brushing technique is as effective as possible, the American Dental Association recommends that you mentally envision your mouth divided into four sections. Spend at least 30 seconds brushing each section before moving to the next one, and be sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth. Use gentle pressure and hold your toothbrush at an angle to your teeth.
  • Tongue: Most people don’t brush their tongue, but they should. Your taste buds are in your tongue, making it a very rough and uneven surface – an ideal place for bacteria to hide. Brushing your tongue at least once each day will help remove hidden bacteria and provide you with fresher breath.
  • Motion: You can use a circular or an up-and-down motion. The motion isn’t as important as brushing for two minutes whenever you brush, and using gentle pressure.
  • Timing: Preferences vary, and it really doesn’t matter whether you brush first and then floss or floss first and then brush, as long as you brush and floss properly.
  • Toothpaste: Toothpaste selection is highly personal, but there are so many available that you’re sure to find one that suits your needs. Just ensure that your selection carries the American Dental Association seal of approval.
  • Rinsing: No matter the quality level of your oral hygiene regimen, it can be improved by the use of an antibacterial mouthwash. Even after flossing and brushing properly, there may be a bacterial residue in your mouth. Using an antibacterial mouthwash will eliminate most of those bacteria and provide you with the freshest mouth and breath possible. It’s also a good emergency substitute for brushing and flossing for those rare occasions when brushing and flossing isn’t feasible.

Can I Restore Healthy Teeth and Gums If I Brush Better and More Often?

Although your brushing and flossing regimen won’t fix some issues, such as an abscess or deep cavity, it can prevent them from forming in the future. When you practice good oral hygiene, you’ll have not only better dental health but better physical health.

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