Brushing our teeth everyday should be a no-brainer right? You would think so, but brushing the right way actually involves 2 important elements – technique and time. Besides helping to remove plaque and tartar buildup, brushing your teeth properly twice a day can help to stave off gum disease, tooth decay and halitosis (aka bad breath). So to help you maintain optimal oral hygiene, here is a step-by-step guide to help you brush your teeth the right way.
The correct way to brush your teeth in 5 simple steps
1. Use the right amount of the right toothpaste
Firstly, let us talk about toothpaste. It is recommended that you choose a fluoride toothpaste as it is clinically proven to combat cavities effectively. Besides keeping tooth decay at bay, this hardy mineral also helps to fortify the enamel of your teeth and eliminate pesky cavity-causing bacteria. Moreover, it is imperative that you read the ingredients list properly to ensure that your toothpaste is triclosan-free. Although triclosan has antibacterial properties, it is carcinogenic in nature and carries the risk of cancer in the long run. So to err on the side of caution, it is best to avoid toothpastes that contain triclosan in general. Now that you have chosen the right toothpaste, you will only need a pea-sized amount of it for every session of teeth-brushing.
2. Apply the right pressure and technique
Next, brushing the right way lies in the technique and how gentle you are with your teeth. To brush your teeth effectively, aim your toothbrush towards your gum line and hold it at a 45 degree angle. Then, use gentle circular motions to massage the bristles onto your teeth and gum line. Remember, never brush side to side or vigorously as these habits can cause premature receding of the gums and increase the sensitivity of your teeth.
3. Make sure no tooth is left unbrushed
Do not forget to brush the inner and chewing surfaces of your teeth!
After brushing the front sections of your teeth, it is essential to brush the inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth as well. To brush the inner surfaces of your teeth, hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and use gentle outward motions to help remove plaque at the inner gum line. Finally, use gentle back and forth motions to brush the surfaces of your molars.
4. Dedicate 3 minutes to teeth-brushing
On top of using the right technique, it is essential to spend at least 3 whole minutes brushing your teeth each time. This will give you about 45 seconds to thoroughly brush each section as well as the harder to reach spots like your back molars and wisdom teeth.
5. Spit but do not rinse immediately
Finally, after all that brushing, it is time to spit out any excess toothpaste. But instead of rinsing your mouth immediately with water, we recommend leaving the fluoride residue on your teeth for at least 30 minutes to maximize its preventative effects against tooth decay.
The FAQs of teeth-brushing
Here, we will be tackling some of your most frequently asked questions on dental hygiene.
1. How often should I change my toothbrush?
As a rule of thumb, you should be replacing your toothbrush once every 3 to 4 months or when the bristles start to fray and wear out. Whichever comes first.
2. Should I floss before or after brushing my teeth?
The best time to floss is right before brushing your teeth. Flossing your teeth regularly at least once a day will help to dislodge food debris between your teeth and prevent plaque and gum disease in the long run.
3. How do I clean my tongue properly?
While brushing, you can either use your toothbrush to gently buff the surface of your tongue or you can use a tongue scraper to effectively remove the buildup of bacteria.
4. Electric vs manual toothbrush – which one is better?
Although electric toothbrushes are obviously incredibly easy to use, it really all depends on your personal preference. Both types of toothbrushes are great as long you ensure that you brush all surfaces of your teeth properly and use fluoride toothpaste.
5. Does it matter what type of bristles I use for my toothbrush?
In general, brush heads with soft to medium-soft bristles work best for most people. However, it is best to opt for soft bristles if you are currently having sensitive gums. No matter what type of bristles you use, the golden rule of thumb is to just brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day.
6. Should I use a mouthwash after brushing my teeth?
No, you should not. Although using a fluoride mouthwash can help to prevent tooth decay and gum infections, we do not recommend using it right after teeth-brushing. This is because the mouthwash would simply wash away the concentrated fluoride coating on your enamel left behind by your fluoride toothpaste. So instead of using it right after brushing your teeth, you can gargle your mouth with it after a meal to help dislodge food debris and eliminate cavity-causing bacteria. On that note, remember to avoid any food and drink for at least 30 minutes after using a fluoride mouthwash. Children should not be using mouth rinses unless advised to do so by a dentist.
7. When should I use an interdental brush?
Interdental brushes are not an alternative to dental floss. But, they are particularly useful if you have difficult-to-reach gaps in between your teeth. Like flossing, it is best to use an interdental brush before brushing your teeth to help dislodge food debris trapped in between your teeth. Also, it is an effective way to clean your teeth if you have braces and are unable to use a floss for the time being.
8. What is the best time to brush my teeth?
The habit of brushing your teeth twice a day is non-negotiable if you want to maintain optimal oral hygiene. That being said, the best time to brush your teeth is once before bedtime and the other at any other time in the day, preferably in the morning.
9. How do I prevent stains on my teeth?
Besides brushing your teeth regularly and thoroughly, our advice is to avoid frequent consumption of foods that are high in acid and/or sugar content. This includes sweets and teeth-staining drinks like tea and coffee. However, if you are an avid tea or coffee drinker, you can try drinking from a straw instead to prevent the liquid from staining your teeth.
10. How often should I get a dental checkup in a year?
To eliminate the buildup of tartar and prevent gum disease, it is best to get a thorough professional clean at least once a year. Your dentist will advise you on the intervals between appointments based on your risk to decay and gum disease. It is preferable to have a checkup more frequently if you are prone to getting recurring gum infections. Recurring gum infections tend to crop up when there is an impacted wisdom tooth or poor oral hygiene.
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