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Brushing Basics

Think you have dental care basics down and can’t possibly have anything new to learn? Well, you may be surprised, and what you don’t know, really CAN hurt you when it comes to your oral health. Brushing Basics Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and don’t forget — when you brush, don’t rush! You need to spend at least two minutes practicing proper brushing techniques each time you brush. We recommend electric toothbrushes with timers that signal when you should move from each of your mouth’s four quadrants to the next. This ensures all of your teeth get proper attention. The equipment you use to brush your teeth is as important as technique. Many people believe that a firm brush will give better results, but that’s not the case. A soft-bristled brush is almost always a better choice, especially when it comes to treating your gums right. Your gums are the foundation of healthy teeth, and it’s important to not abuse them by using a brush that’s too abrasive. A brush head that isn’t too large or too small is important as well. If your toothbrush fits your mouth comfortably, you’re more likely to brush for the proper amount of time. Fluoride toothpaste in a “flavor” that you like will also encourage brushing for longer periods. An electric toothbrush, while not inexpensive, can make brushing even easier, more effective, and less of what may seem like a “chore,” especially if you have arthritis or other physical limitations that may make it difficult to brush effectively with a manual toothbrush. Using the correct technique to brush is another important brushing basic. Holding the brush at a 45-degree angle where your teeth meet your gums, using firm but gentle pressure as to not irritate your gums or damage enamel, brush in small circles, two teeth at a time. Remember to brush the inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue. Practice good equipment hygiene. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing, and store your toothbrush in an upright position and let it air dry until using it again. Don’t routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers, which can encourage the growth of bacteria. If you have concerns about bacteria, UV toothbrush sanitizers can be purchased inexpensively, and many electric brushes come with this feature already included. Know when to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three months. If your brush head becomes frayed or worn before three months, replace it anyway. A small investment in a fresh brush can mean the difference between clean teeth and healthy gums, and the beginnings of gingivitis when plaque and bacteria aren’t being removed effectively. Don’t forget, in addition to brushing (and flossing!), you should see your dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and check up. Give our Ann Arbor dental practice a call today at 734-677-2156 to make an appointment or schedule a consultation. –Dr. Shannon Norman-Kotre, DDS


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