If you’re like the rest of us, brushing your teeth is probably one of the first things you learned. You probably learned it so early on that it comes naturally to you. Most likely, you haven't given it any attention since then.
But as you get older, something to consider is, “Am I brushing properly?” That makes sense; there might come a time when we realize that our oral hygiene practices should be improved. Here are some pointers on how to wash your teeth correctly, with a reminder of the purpose behind it.
First, some justifications: Plaque is a biofilm made by bacteria that sticks tenaciously to your teeth and is easily removed by brushing. Acids produced by the bacteria in plaque damage the tooth's enamel and can result in tooth decay. Gum disease and poor breath can also be caused by plaque. In fact, plaque buildup is thought to be the only cause of nearly 90% of dental diseases.
Fluoride in toothpaste improves tooth enamel and increases the resistance of teeth to decay, in addition to eliminating plaque. Additionally, brushing makes your breath smell better and your mouth feels cleaner. There is no one "correct" way to brush your teeth, but you may get them as clean as possible by using a variety of methods. So why wait? Let's practice brushing again straight away!
Using the Right Brushing Method
Pick a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles, carefully hold it in your fingers (not in your fist), and squeeze on a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Gently press the bristles against the outside of your upper teeth, close to the gum line, at a 45-degree upward angle.
Gently sweep the brush over the teeth and gums in back-and-forth motions. If you'd rather, you can also use an elliptical (circular) motion to clean the teeth.
Make sure to clean the areas in between your teeth. You can do this by sweeping food debris away from your gums.
Move to the area of your teeth next to the one you just finished brushing, and repeat. Continue until you have thoroughly cleaned the top row of teeth's outside.
To the lower teeth now. Repeat the process while angling the brush at a 45-degree angle downward toward the gum line. Completely clean the bottom teeth's outside surface.
Proceed to the upper teeth's interior. Clean the inside of the top teeth with gentle but thorough strokes while tilting the bristles up toward the gums.
Move to the inner surfaces of the lower teeth. Repeat the process while tilting the brush downward.
Here are the chewing surfaces now: Clean the ridges and valleys of the back teeth while holding the bristles flat on the molars. Apply this to each top and bottom tooth.
To finish, lightly brush your tongue to remove bacteria and improve breath.
Verify Your Work. Sparkly Clean?
How effectively did you brush?
Simply running your tongue over your teeth can give you a clue as to whether or not they are clean. If they feel slick and smooth, they probably are. If not, give it another shot. You can use a "disclosing solution"—a specific dye that reveals plaque and debris your brushing missed—to determine for sure whether you're brushing effectively.
One mistake people frequently make is not brushing for long enough—two minutes is typically the very minimum required for proper cleaning. Try brushing while listening to a popular song in the restroom; after the song is over, you're finished! But regardless of your musical preferences, using proper brushing techniques will greatly improve oral hygiene.