While brushing your teeth isn’t rocket science, there are more effective ways than others to go about it.
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day to remove plaque, a sticky film that contains bacteria and coats your teeth. When you eat sugar, these bacteria release acids that eat away at the enamel of your teeth, which leads to cavities. If not properly removed, according to the Mayo Clinic, this plaque can turn into tartar, a hardened version of plaque that makes it harder to keep your teeth clean.
The following are the best practices for brushing your teeth. Follow them, and you’ll have a beautiful smile that will last as long as you do.
Use the Right Toothbrush
Choose a toothbrush that’s not too big for your mouth, and opt for soft bristles rather than hard ones, which can damage your tooth enamel. If you have arthritis or other problems with your grip or strength, use an electric toothbrush.
Brush for At Least Two Minutes
A quick once-over with the toothbrush isn’t enough to keep your pearly whites pearly and white. You need at least two minutes of brushing time to adequately remove the plaque buildup and keep your gums strong and healthy. Inadequate brushing can lead to serious problems like gum disease, which can lead to the loss of your teeth and the need for dental implants, according to Milford OH dentist Timothy Kitzmiller, DDS, who recommends dividing your mouth into four sections–upper right, upper left, lower right, and lower left–and spending around 30 seconds on each section.
Use a Light Touch and the Right Technique
It doesn’t take a lot of pressure to remove plaque, and brushing too hard can damage the tooth enamel and cause gum pain. Be firm but gentle when you brush your teeth. The technique you use matters, too. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gumline, and brush with short up-and-down strokes. Make sure you get the back teeth and other hard-to-reach surfaces, and when you’re done, gently brush your tongue.
Choose the Right Toothpaste
Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride, which is essential for healthy teeth and gums. If you’re looking to whiten your teeth, alternate between regular toothpaste and the whitening versions. Using whitening toothpaste only can harm your teeth over time.
Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly
After a few months, toothbrush bristles lose their flexibility and begin to deteriorate. Buy a new toothbrush every three months. Choose a soft-bristled brush that fits comfortably in your mouth.
Store your toothbrush standing up in a holder, ideally in the medicine cabinet or other protected storage area far from the toilet, which can deposit germs on the bristles.
Get Regular Checkups
Visit your dentist twice a year for routine checkups and cleanings to help ensure healthy teeth and gums and a bright, happy smile. Early detection of dental problems can save you a lot of pain–and money.