A Guide to Brushing Teeth

Brushing your teeth is one of those things that should be beautifully simple. I mean, how difficult can it be? You’ve got the brush. You’ve got the toothpaste. You’ve got the teeth. It’s as easy as 1,2,3. Isn’t it? Unfortunately, no, it isn’t. The unpalatable truth is that if you are brushing your teeth wrongly or badly, it can be just as detrimental to your oral health as not brushing them at all.

Really, brushing your teeth well comes down to two things: time and technique. By time, we’re talking about the amount of time you spend each day brushing your teeth. Most dentists will recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day. Brushing your teeth less than twice each day will probably mean that you are not removing the trapped food and reducing the build-up of plaque regularly enough. Brushing your teeth more than twice each day can mean that you begin to damage your teeth, especially the hard-wearing outer enamel which is nature’s way of protecting them.

Dentists will also recommend that you should brush your teeth for between two and three minutes at a time. This will give you enough time to give your teeth and gums a thorough clean, ensuring that you use the right brushing techniques to clean right to the back and in between your teeth.

Which brings us neatly onto talking about brushing technique. As we mentioned above, if you brush your teeth too hard, it can damage the enamel and be detrimental to the health of your teeth in the long term. Brushing your teeth hard can also cause your gums to recede and your teeth to loosen.

Therefore, you need to strike a balance when you are brushing your teeth. Not too hard, yet firm enough to remove the plaque and tartar that builds up during any normal day. Experts recommend that, too protect your gums, you should brush your teeth with a downwards motion. So start at the top near your gums, then brush down, or if you are brushing your bottom teeth, brush up from the bottom. Alternatively, another option is to brush your teeth in a light circular motion.

You’ll find it is difficult to reach your back teeth using this technique, but do your best. It will help you maintain healthy gums in the future.

Of course, brushing your teeth is only part of the picture. There are plenty of other things that you can do at home to ensure that your trips to the dentist are easier. First of all, you should floss regularly. During the day, no matter what we eat or don’t eat, we all accumulate trapped food in between our teeth and gums. If this food is not removed, it will cause decay, gum disease and bad breath. Brushing usually removes some of this debris, but flossing is a far more effective way of getting rid of trapped food between your teeth. In short, if you are really serious about looking after your teeth, flossing is a good habit to get into.

Secondly, you should ensure that you are using the right toothbrush and toothpaste. If you pay a visit to the supermarket, it can be a little overwhelming when you look at all the products on sale. Do you need a soft, medium or hard tooth brush? Should it have a small head or a large head? Does it need a flexible neck or a stiff one? And that’s before you’ve even started looking at the electronic versions…

Toothpastes are just the same. There are toothpastes with extra whitening power. Toothpastes with extra freshening power. Toothpastes that harden the enamel. Toothpastes that come in different flavours. Toothpastes that attack plaque. Toothpastes that contain fluoride. Which is the best?

If you are not sure that you are using the toothbrush and toothpaste that are right for you, you should ask your dentist what their view is. Most people are best using a soft or medium toothbrush with a small, angled head so that they can reach right to the back. Flouride toothpaste is usually the best for a healthy mouth too.

However, we’re all different and no-one knows your teeth better than your dentist. Ask them what they think and many practices will often stock the products that they recommend.