From a young age, we’re told we need to brush our teeth regularly, and whenever you visit a dentist, you probably hear the same message repeated back to you; “brush your teeth”.
Hopefully, you already know why brushing your teeth is so important. It’s the most effective way of reducing the risk of tooth decay. Good brushing habits also minimise the need for treatment to repair or replace damaged teeth.
You may think that you’ve got cleaning your teeth down to a fine art, but you may have picked up a few bad habits throughout your life.
Here are eight tips to make sure you’re really taking care of your teeth.
1. Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day
We’ve all done it. You clean your teeth in the morning to give yourself fresh breath to start the day, but then you neglect the nightly brush.
Brushing at night is essential. It helps remove any particles of food and any bacteria feeding off it and, in turn, reduces plaque build-up.
The time you choose for your morning brush is important, particularly if you drink acidic fruit juices with your breakfast. You’ll either need to brush your teeth before breakfast or wait for an hour after eating. This is because brushing immediately after drinking acidic drinks can damage your tooth’s enamel.
2. Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that strengthens tooth enamel. It can be found in toothpaste and is often added to tap water to improve our oral health.
Fluoride toothpaste is great for helping prevent tooth decay. Ideally, you should use a toothpaste that has 1,350 to 1,500ppm fluoride. If you’ve been told you’re at an increased risk of developing tooth decay, opt for a toothpaste with extra fluoride.
If swill your mouth with mouthwash, don’t use it immediately after brushing as this can wash away the fluoride from your teeth and cancel out its effect. Limit mouthwash use to other times during the day.
3. Brush for Two Minutes Each Time
Putting your toothbrush in your mouth and moving it around for a few seconds won’t help reduce the risk of tooth decay. To really remove any plaque or food debris that’s lodged between your teeth, you’ll need to be thorough; and this takes time.
If you want to be sure you’re hitting the mark when it comes to brushing, set a timer on your phone and brush for two full minutes each time.
During your two-minute clean, remember to brush each tooth from every angle. Once you’re done with your teeth, you can also brush your tongue. This helps remove any odour-causing bacteria.
4. Use a Soft Bristled Toothbrush
You may think that a firm brush used vigorously will scrub your teeth nice and clean, but unfortunately, it’s likely to do more harm than good. Brushing too fiercely can aggravate your gums and damage your enamel. Over time, a hard bristled brush may also cause receding gums.
Once your bristles start bending, it’s time to replace your toothbrush. Even if your toothbrush doesn’t seem to be too worn down, think about changing it every three or four months.
5. Avoid Charcoal Toothpaste
In recent years, there has been a rise in activated charcoal toothpaste hitting the market. Charcoal toothpaste is often marketed as a whitening treatment.
Although activated charcoal won’t do you any harm if you accidentally swallow it, it’s actually mildly abrasive. Brushing using charcoal toothpaste on a regular basis could damage your enamel and leave you at an increased risk of tooth decay.
6. Brushing Your Teeth With Braces or Aligners
If you’re straightening your teeth with a brace or aligner, your dental hygiene routine is more important than ever.
Fixed braces can become harbours for food debris and plaque. This is because of the way they’re designed. Brackets attached to your teeth have small indents which can be difficult to clean. Added to this, the wires that run across your teeth can easily clog up with food.
Increasing the number of times you brush your teeth will help keep them clean. Brush three times a day, at least an hour after a meal, and just before you go to bed at night.
Using interdental brushes will help you get around each bracket and under every part of the wire. You’ll need to be meticulous and get into a strict routine of gently brushing around each part of the brace.
If you wear aligners such as Invisalign, there’s less risk of food and plaque getting stuck; however, because your aligner is pressed against your teeth for 22 hours each day, there’s a chance that you’re trapping plaque bacteria in place. With good hygiene, this shouldn’t be a problem.
it’s vital you keep both your teeth and aligner clean at all times. The great news is that you can take your aligner out to make brushing easier. You may want to take a travel toothbrush and toothpaste with you wherever you go so that you can clean your teeth and aligner after every meal.
7. Go Electric
Research suggests that electric toothbrushes can be more effective in comparison to manual brushes, particularly those with rotating heads.
Of course, your personal preferences and your own dental hygiene habits are important when it comes to choosing between electric and manual toothbrushes. Choose a brush that suits your lifestyle. For instance, if you brush your teeth on the go, choose a manual toothbrush. If you’re looking for a deeper clean at home, go electric.
As with cleaning your teeth with a manual brush, go gently with your electric toothbrush. Change the head every three months, or when the bristles start to bend.
8. Look After Your Toothbrush
Once you’ve brushed your teeth, rinse your toothbrush with water and stand it upright in a cup or an open holder so that it can dry naturally. If it’s being stored with other people’s toothbrushes, their heads shouldn’t touch each another. Don’t put it in a closed container as this will cause bacterial buildup and may lead to your brush becoming mouldy.
Visit Your Dentist
Brushing your teeth properly will help reduce the risk of tooth decay, but even with the highest standards of care, it’s always essential to visit your dentist every six months. A routine visit will highlight any areas of concern, hopefully giving you enough time to make changes to your routine or get treatment.
To schedule your next dental appointment at our Chessington, Cheam, Stonecot, or Sutton clinics, get in touch today.