Tooth Brushing Tips: Are You Using Your Toothbrush Ineffectively?
If you brush your teeth regularly, using toothpaste containing protective fluoride, you're likely to have good teeth. But your teeth may be less well protected than you think, depending how effectively you're brushing them. If your dentist is finding cavities, despite your efforts, this may be because you're using your toothbrush ineffectively. By adopting a logical approach and applying it systematically to every area of your teeth and gums, you can keep a handle on decay. Here are some guidelines to help.
1. Brush upwards from the lower gum, and downwards from the upper gum. This will sweep the sides of your teeth clean, just as a broom sweeps dust from a carpet. You'll need to almost close your jaw and stretch out your lips to reach this part of the back teeth, and pull your lips away when brushing the front area. Start each sweep at the gum, to ensure no food particles get lodged between gum and tooth, where rot and infection can quickly set in.
2. Brush the insides of your teeth. When you've brushed down all around the outside, do the same on the inside. This is not so easy, and you'll have to tilt the brush different ways to reach every part, so you'll need a loose wrist. As with the outsides, sweep food particles and plaque away from the gums to the tips of your teeth, from where they can be washed away.
3. Brush the backs of your furthest teeth. The 4 wisdom teeth at the back of your mouth may be hard to reach, but they need brushing like the rest, from gum to tip, including the backs of them, that face your tonsils and throat. To maintain effective sweeps of the brush right around this area, open your mouth wide and hold the brush loosely, tilting it at different angles, as necessary.
4. Brush the flat tops of your teeth - the parts you bite and chew with. This is the easiest area to reach, so keep it as a reward for all that fiddly maneuvering. Work your way systematically around both lower and upper sets of teeth, brushing at different angles to sweep out every last crumb from all the little dents and dips.
5. Hold the toothpaste froth in your mouth for a minute or so before rinsing out, to allow the fluoride to start taking effect. When you finally rinse your mouth out, don't rinse away every last drop of the toothpaste foam. If you can still faintly taste it, that's a good sign as it means you still have a tiny trace of fluoride left in your mouth to fend off the bacteria for a while.
6. Use a good toothbrush, and when the bristles start to wear down or go out of shape, exchange it for a new one. The bristles need to be straight and strong to be effective. When choosing between hard, medium and soft brushes, consider your personal needs. If your gums are swollen or liable to bleeding, a soft brush will be gentle on the damaged skin, whereas a hard one could interfere with healing. A hard brush, used with pressure, could possibly wear down your teeth's protective enamel, too, especially if it is already thin. However, you may feel the need of a hard brush for more effective brushing. If in doubt, ask your dentist for advice, or consult the online dental care sites and forums.
If you're brushing your teeth effectively and regularly, you're looking after them well. If you cut down on your sugar intake, you'll be protecting them even more. True, that may be easier said than done when you're passing a tempting cake stall, but an extra brushing after your sugar-drenched doughnut will help.