Most people think that brushing alone is enough to keep their mouths healthy, but as we’ve posted before, that’s definitely not the case. Brushing a minimum of twice a day correctly (ideally after every meal) and flossing are truly just the tip of the iceberg. Did you know?
- 32% of American adults only brush once a day! - 34% of American adults have gone one to three days without using their toothbrush. - 20% of Americans are driven to brush to avoid the stigma of bad breath, but only 18 percent are motivated to brush to prevent periodontal or gum disease — a potentially serious problem that impacts three out of four Americans. - 49% of Americans floss daily, while 10% never floss.
And even those adults who do brush at least twice a day and floss still often do not brush correctly — in other words, long enough, and with proper technique. What is proper tooth brushing technique?
First off, with a manual toothbrush, you must brush a minimum of two minutes. In reality, though, most people should be brushing longer if they’re using a manual brush — more like three to four minutes. Use short, gentle strokes, paying extra attention to the gumline, hard-to-reach back teeth and areas around fillings, crowns, or other restoration work. Concentrate on thoroughly cleaning each section as follows, holding the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle, sweeping the brush away from the gumline:
- Brush the outer surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth. - Brush the inner surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth. - Brush the chewing surfaces. - Don’t forget to brush your tongue! This removes bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Using a soft-bristled brush is generally recommended by most dental professionals to avoid damaging the gums with bristles that are too firm. Currently, most dentists will recommend an electric toothbrush over a manual, hands down. Although a manual brush is perfectly capable of keeping your mouth healthy, an electric brush is easier to use with proper technique, often include a timer so that users brush for the correct amount of time, and sometimes offer other added features to help maintain good dental health, such as gum massage or UV sanitizing of brush heads. Electric toothbrushes also excel at keeping teeth naturally white, while also cutting down on damage caused by those who tend to brush too hard. Electric toothbrushes basically do the work for you, and do it right.
Besides brushing, flossing teeth is also necessary for good dental health. Toothbrushes, whether manual or electric, can’t reach into tight spaces between teeth, where bacteria can build up and cause periodontal disease. To floss correctly:
- Begin with approximately 18″ of floss, and wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with - Holding the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth - Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Never snap or force the floss, as this may injure delicate gum tissue - Use clean sections of floss as you move to each new tooth
Besides brushing and flossing, using a toothpaste with fluoride is very important in maintaining the health of your teeth. In addition, eating a balanced diet, limiting snacking (especially of high-carbohydrate foods), and discontinuing the use of tobacco products are all key pieces of maintaining good oral health on a daily basis.
If you have questions about dental care, or would like to make an appointment at Dr. Kotre’s Ann Arbor dental practice, give us a call today at 734-677-2156.