You may think you’ve got a handle on brushing your teeth. After all, you do it twice a day, every day. But having experience doesn’t necessarily mean having expertise, and it’s easy to get complacent with your brushing and flossing when you have to do it so often.
Unfortunately, getting lazy with your toothbrushing can lead not just to bad breath or unattractive teeth, but to cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss. That’s why it’s a good idea to “brush up” (pun intended!) on your oral hygiene routine every once in awhile.
Use the Right Tools
First things first: Are you using the right toothbrush? It’s important to have a toothbrush that makes your brushing routine easy and effective. This means choosing a brush that isn’t too big, so it fits easily inside your mouth and lets you get to all the nooks and crannies. It also means choosing a brush with soft bristles (too-stiff bristles are not only less effective, but they can actually damage your enamel and hurt your gums.) And don’t forget to change out your toothbrush every three to four months! A old, worn out toothbrush isn’t as effective as a new one.
Electric toothbrushes aren’t necessarily better than traditional toothbrushes, but they also aren’t worse. Maybe you struggle with the fine motor function of brushing, or maybe you just plain want one. One thing they really help with is if they have a timer that ensures you brush for two full minutes, something people often struggle with. If an electric toothbrush will energize your brushing routine, go for it!
It’s also important to choose a fluoride toothpaste, since fluoride helps prevent cavities.
Be Thorough, but Gentle
Even the best toothbrush can’t clean your teeth on its own. You can use all the right tools, but if you don’t brush your teeth properly, you could still be allowing decay and disease to flourish in your mouth.
While it may seem like brushing harder is getting more plaque and food debris off your teeth, gentle brushing is actually more effective. Plus, brushing too vigorously can wear down your enamel. Instead, brush with gentle circles along the gumline of each tooth, front and back.
Bacteria can thrive on your tongue, too, so it’s worth a second to brush your tongue as well. There are even toothbrushes that have tongue cleaners on the reverse side of the head, to make it easy.
And of course, you can’t forget flossing! If you aren’t flossing, there are whole sections of your teeth that simply aren’t getting cleaned. You should floss once a day. This will help prevent cavities and keep your gums healthy by defending against gum disease.
Listen to the Experts!
If you’re not sure if your brushing routine is up to snuff, your dentist is the one to ask! Those regular checkups aren’t just a thorough cleaning, they’re also an opportunity for your dentist to see how you’re doing and watch out for warning signs of decay, disease, and other oral health problems.
Ask for feedback on your brushing and flossing performance and your dentist will be happy to give it. They can even provide tips on how to brush and floss the right way.