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Brush Up on the Benefits of Brushing

Teeth brushing has multiple benefits if done right. Most of us know how to brush our teeth; we’ve been doing it since we were young children. Unfortunately, some of us have picked up bad habits or never learned the proper technique. Regular trips to the dentist can provide more guidance, but if you are visiting regularly, you probably aren’t getting the most up-to-date advice.

If you’re going to brush, why not brush up on the basics and do it right to reap all the benefits? We’ve put together a helpful guide to get your brushing back on track and keep your teeth looking and feeling good for many years to come.

What Benefits Does Teeth Brushing Provide?

Teeth brushing twice a day, flossing once and limiting sugar as recommended by the American Dental Association, can help you enjoy lifelong dental health. You’ll have fewer cavities and a reduced risk of developing gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. Gum disease has also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and other preventable diseases like heart disease, pneumonia and more. Additionally, brushing your teeth twice a day will help ensure your breath smells fresh and your teeth remain clean and sparkling.

How Does Plaque Harm My Teeth and Gums?

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that grows on everyone’s teeth. When we eat sugars, the plaque creates an acid that can eat away at tooth enamel and cause cavities. It’s important to brush the plaque away at least twice a day and floss to keep the plaque from building up between teeth.

Plaque that stays on your teeth will eventually harden into tarter, the yellowish substance often seen where your teeth meet your gums. Tarter will cause gingivitis, or gum inflammation. Your gums may look swollen and puffy, and they may bleed when you brush your teeth. A dentist or dental hygienist can remove tarter with special instruments and show you how to keep plaque from building up again. This will reverse gingivitis and prevent it from potentially turning into a more advanced form of gum disease. Untreated advanced forms of gum disease can cause teeth to loosen and fall out. You want to avoid periodontal disease (advanced gum disease) at all costs since the treatment is invasive and it’s the main reason adults lose teeth.

What’s the Right Way to Brush My Teeth?

These tips will help you get the most out of your oral care routine:

Choosing a Good Toothbrush

Select a toothbrush with rounded, soft bristles. Soft bristles bend and reach into small spaces. Brushes with bristles with varying heights clean your teeth better. If you have sensitive teeth, choose an extra soft toothbrush. If you have difficulty getting your toothbrush to your back teeth, try a smaller child’s toothbrush. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or whenever the bristles fray.

Selecting a Fluoride Toothpaste

As long as you choose a fluoride toothpaste in paste or gel form with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, it’s a matter of personal taste. Mint, bubble gum or other flavors are all equally effective provided they have fluoride and the ADA stamp of approval. You only need a pea-size amount on a wet toothbrush. Kids only need a tiny amount, about the size of a grain of rice, on their toothbrush. After brushing, just spit any remaining toothpaste out; don’t rinse. This keeps the fluoride on your teeth. Also, if you’re using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, the ingredients need to sink in your teeth.

Developing a Good Brushing Technique

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle pointing toward your gums. Use circular motions to clean the front and back of all your teeth. Hold the brush flat against the chewing surfaces of your teeth to clean them as well. The process should take two minutes. Time yourself if necessary; many people believe they brush for two minutes, but they don’t. Be sure to brush every morning and before going to bed at night. Lightly brushing your tongue will remove bacteria and help freshen your breath.

There’s an old joke; a patient asks his dentist which teeth he should concentrate on brushing. The dentist replies he should brush only the ones he wants to keep. Some people have a tendency to concentrate on their front teeth, which are the ones people see. Cleaning every tooth with your toothbrush is essential to good dental health.

Flossing

The ADA recommends flossing daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and dislodge bits of food stuck there. You can use waxed or unwaxed string floss, dental tape or a water flosser. Talk to your dentist about the most effective option for you. For example, you may find dental tape the most effective if you have sizable gaps between your teeth or a water flosser if you have limited manual dexterity. According to a Centers for Disease Control study, less than 32 percent of American adults floss daily, despite its importance in helping prevent cavities and gum disease. You’ve probably heard it before, but flossing works wonders and is very important to your overall dental health! It’s better to late than never.

Mouthrinses

Drugstore aisles are filled with a dizzying array of mouthrinses. You can find ones with fluoride, ones that control bad breath and ones that control plaque. The ADA Seal of Acceptance ensures the product’s claims are backed up by studies proving its effectiveness. Remember, generic mouthrinses with no therapeutic benefit may give you fresh, minty breath, but offer no other benefits. They only cover bad breath, but do not treat the cause. Most mouthrinses are not suitable for young children unless they are specially formulated for them.

More Effective Brushing and Flossing Lead to Better Dental Health

If you want to keep your smile clean and healthy, an effective at-home oral care routine is a necessity. It’s also essential to see your dentist regularly for an exam and professional teeth cleaning. Together, you and your dentist can protect your smile. It’s one of your greatest assets, and you need to take care of it if you want to keep it.

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