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Brushing Up on the Benefits of Brushing

We learn as kids to brush twice a day, however, often we don’t learn all the little, necessary tricks to make brushing the most effective it can be. Our parents bought us toothbrushes and toothpaste and helped us floss, so we didn’t learn everything we need to know as adults. A quick refresher course for adults is useful, especially if it stresses the importance of good oral hygiene. It’s easy to cut corners when you’re busy or too tired to floss at night, but that will only create larger problems in the future.

What Are the Advantages of a Consistent Toothbrushing Routine?

Staying consistent with your toothbrushing routine has multiple advantages. Everyone wants a bright, clean smile to show off. Brushing twice a day removes bacteria in your mouth, eliminating odors. It also helps remove stains, keeping your teeth whiter and brighter. Cleaning your teeth also keeps plaque from building up in your mouth. Plaque will cause tooth decay and gum disease, both mostly preventable dental diseases if you catch them in time.

Why Should I Worry About Plaque?

Everyone gets plaque. It’s the sticky gunk that makes your teeth feel dirty. It’s full of bacteria, but if you get rid of it by brushing and flossing as recommended, it isn’t too much of a problem. If you allow it to sit on your teeth, the acid in plaque will eat away at your tooth enamel and cause cavities. When plaque stays on your teeth too long, it hardens into a yellowish substance known as tartar. Brushing and flossing can’t remove tartar; you have to get a professional teeth cleaning and have a dental professional remove the tartar using special instruments.

Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. It’s caused by tartar irritating your gums and causing them to swell. If you have gingivitis, you may see blood coming from your gums when you brush your teeth. Dentists routinely treat gingivitis with professional cleanings and recommendations for better at home dental care.

Unchecked gingivitis can advance to a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Periodontitis will cause your gums to recede and it will make the bone and soft tissue that hold your teeth in your mouth deteriorate. Without treatment to halt the disease’s progression, you could lose teeth. Studies also link periodontitis to a number of other medical conditions, like heart disease and pneumonia and complications during pregnancy.

Toothbrushing Practices to Keep Your Teeth in the Best Possible Shape

There are small things you can do that will make your morning and evening oral hygiene as efficient as possible. These include:

1. Choosing the Best Toothbrush
A good toothbrush is essential for removing plaque from your teeth. You should use a brush with soft bristles of different heights that can fit in the nooks and crannies. Toothbrushes come with different sized heads; find one that lets you reach all your teeth easily. A toothbrush should last three to four months before it starts to fray and needs replacing. Always rinse your toothbrush after use and store it upright, so it dries completely and doesn’t serve as a breeding ground for bacteria. You wouldn’t want bacteria on a toothbrush that you are going to use to remove the bacteria that grows in your mouth.

2. Using Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride toothpaste strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent cavities. If works best if you don’t rinse your mouth with water when you are finished brushing. A small amount of fluoride needs to stay on your teeth to protect them. It does not matter whether you use a gel or paste, as long as it has fluoride in it and it’s approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Children age six or under are the only ones who shouldn’t use a fluoride toothpaste.

3. Brushing Systematically
If you’re not using an angled toothbrush, hold your brush at a 45-degree angle and point the bristles toward your gums. Use a gentle circular motion to brush, cleaning the front and back of each tooth. Clean the tops of your teeth as well. Once you’re done, you can brush your tongue to remove bacteria.

The process should take 120 seconds or two full minutes. Most people overestimate the time they spend brushing their teeth. Try using a timer to make sure you’re brushing as long as you should. There are apps that will time your brushing time if you prefer a high-tech approach.

4. Flossing Daily
A recent ADA study found only 16 percent of American adults always floss daily. An alarming eight percent never floss. Flossing is an important part of controlling plaque buildup. It cleans between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. There are different types of interdental cleaners besides string floss, like dental picks and water flossers. Use whatever works best for you, as long as you clean between your teeth at least once a day. A water flosser, like a Waterpik, is ideal for people with limited manual dexterity or individuals with braces or dental bridges.

5. Using a Mouthrinse
Your dentist may recommend a fluoride mouthrinse to help prevent tooth decay. He or she may also suggest an antibacterial mouthrinse to control plaque and reduce your chance of developing gum disease. If you find yourself using a mouthrinse to control bad breath daily, ask your dental professional if there is an underlying medical reason for your chronic bad breath. Some mouthrinses can only mask bad breath, they cannot fix the cause of it.

Getting Back to the Basics of Brushing

Using a good toothbrushing technique is important for keeping your teeth and gums in good shape. You also must use the right tools that meet your individual needs. Other ways to ensure your continued dental health is to see a dentist for regular exams and teeth cleanings and to limit your intake of foods and beverages with sugar. Your teeth and gums are very useful for chewing thoroughly, speaking so people can understand you, and flashing an attractive smile. They are worth taking care of in the best way you possibly can.

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