Teeth brushing is often underrated and overlooked, but it’s probably the most important thing you can do for your oral hygiene.
Brushing your teeth at home is a must, but many people don’t realize that visiting your dentist on a regular basis is too. Both at-home and in-office cleaning is needed to keep away plaque and tartar.
A basic professional cleaning cost as little as $50 and up to $200, and this doesn’t include any other tests or procedures. So good oral hygiene starts with brushing your teeth at home (which is free!).Creative Commons
How To Brush Your Teeth?
Believe it or not, there is confusion in the general public about how to brush your teeth and at what frequency. We conducted a survey of Authority Dental readers and found some interesting results.
How Many Times a Day Should You Brush Your Teeth?
The American Dental Association recommends you brush at least twice per day, preferably after each meal. Fortunately, most of our readers know to follow those guidelines, but many stated they do not brush that much (or they brush much more often than that).
From our sample, we found that 1 in 3 Americans (32.8%) brush their teeth just once a day and 8.6% of people brush once every few days. On the other hand, half of Americans brush the recommended twice a day. Interestingly in an ideal world you would wait for 30-40 mins after eating before brushing in order to minimize the damage to enamel. This gives time for your saliva to neutralise the acid in your mouth.
We should emphasize the importance of brushing before you go to bed. The bacteria involved in tooth decay (mutans streptococci) multiplies 30 times overnight if you didn’t brush your teeth before bed.
For How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth?
When it comes to duration, how many minutes should you brush your teeth at one time? The ADA recommends brushing for 2-3 minutes each brushing session. Just over half of Americans follow those guidelines (56.5%).
Over a third (36.4%) of respondents don’t brush for long enough, and 7% brush for too long, which can damage the tooth enamel and cause what dentist’s call Toothbrush abrasion, wearing away the gum and causing sensitivity.
Proper Brushing Techniques
On top of brushing 2-3 times per day for 2-3 minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, the ADA suggests some other tips for brushing your teeth. One is to place the toothbrush on the gumline at a 45-degree angle, gently brushing with short strokes. It is more of a vibration that a scrub which is the stroke that most often leads to wear. This helps remove plaque both above and just below the gingival margin.
For cleaning the inside surface of the front teeth, you should position the toothbrush vertically and use short strokes moving up and down.
Whatever technique you use, the ADA says, you should cover every surface of all your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Here are just a couple general tips to keep in mind while brushing:
- Be gentle to your teeth
- Don’t rush the process
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Replace your toothbrush on a regular basis (about every 3 months)
- Think about brushing like massaging your teeth
- Don’t forget to brush/massage the gumline
- Wait 30-40 minutes after eating before brushing
What Happens When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth?
This is where things get scary. What detrimental effects will occur if you don’t brush your teeth on a regular basis?
Bone Loss And Periodontal Disease
Everyone knows you can get cavities if you don’t brush your teeth, but it can also lead to, or worsen gum disease or periodontal disease that is characterised by irreversible bone loss to the support of your teeth.
Bacteria, if not brushed off the teeth, can cause gum inflammation in susceptible individuals that leads to the bone being “eaten away” . These changes are irreversible and pockets can develop that lead to difficulty cleaning. It is a viscous cycle that continues over many years until the teeth become loose.
Regular checks from the dentist can help identify if this is a problem for you and treatments to slow the progress can be given. Normally this is cleaning under the gum with local anesthetic but can require surgery in more extreme cases.
This one is somewhat obvious. We’ve all experienced this side effect of not brushing.
When food particles and plaque stay inbetween your teeth they will ferment and give off an unpleasant odour. Brushing and flossing can help prevent this from being a problem for those who are close to you. Unfortunately, gum and mints don’t solve the problem, they only temporarliy cover it up.
How is gingivitis different from periodontal disease? Gingivitis is basically the stage before periodontal disease and is reversible. Gingivitis occurs when your gums become swollen, sore, inflamed and bleed in response to plaque gums.
Enamel is basically a shield for each tooth. If enamel wears down, that’s bad news for your mouth and oral health and can lead to sensitivity and yellowing of your teeth.
If you aren’t brushing and flossing properly and are eating too much sugar, you are also at risk of developing decay or cavities in your teeth. These will need to be treated by a dentist but can easily be prevented with great oral hygiene.
This one is also obvious. Eating and drinking things that have dark pigments, like tea, coffee, and wine, can leave stains on your teeth. Smoking is also a big culprit for staining as well as for gum disease.
Brushing and flossing at least twice a day is a good start to fighting stains, but despite your best efforts, visiting the dentist on a regular basis is often necessary.
This one may surprise you, a connection between periodontitis and diabetes has been established for some time.
We’re not saying that poor oral hygiene leads to diabetes but people with diabetes do show a much higher incidence of periodontitis and are much more at risk or irreversible bone loss.
This is another surprising related issue to not brushing your teeth. The mouth is a huge reservoir for bacteria and these can easily get into the blood stream and cause inflammation in the body.
Inflammation in the body is responsible for many conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s disease, according to Dr. Brent Rusnak, dentist and founder of River Run Dental.
What? Premature birth can happen because of poor oral hygiene? Yes, it’s actually true.
According to a dentist based in California named Dr. Nirav Shah, gum disease can lead to either low birth weight or premature births. It plays into taking care of yourself as a whole person to have the healthiest birth and child possible, and oral care is a part of that.
Teeth Brushing FAQ (Tips)
Now let’s address some of the most commonly asked questions about brushing your teeth as well as some teeth brushing tips.
What is the best type of toothbrush for everyday use?
You have a few options when it comes to toothbrushes. You can go with an electric toothbrush, or you can get a regular toothbrush. There are even now charcoal toothbrushes available. The most important factor is your brushing technique, so the toothbrush you use is really more of a preference.
Try to use a soft toothbrush, which is a brush with soft nylon bristles with rounded ends. This allows you to clean your teeth and gums effectively without possibly damaging them.
Is electric toothbrush better than manual?
The American Dental Associations says, “Either manual or powered toothbrushes can be used effectively.” So the question of “better” or “worse” maybe isn’t the right angle, unless you think better or worse for each individual.
According to our study, most Americans (65.4%) use a regular, manual toothbrush. On top of that, just 36.4% of Americans meet all of the recommended criteria for brushing their teeth properly.
How should you care for your toothbrush?
There are many things you can do to take care of your toothbrush. Here are some basic rules to follow:
- Don’t share your toothbrush with anyone. Doing this can easily spread germs and bodily fluids.
- Rinse your toothbrush with water after using. This gets off all the toothpaste and debris.
- Store your toothbrush in an upright position with a toothbrush cover to avoid toilet and sink splashes from getting on it.
- Putting your toothbrush through the dishwasher can ruin it.
- Don’t keep your toothbrush covered as this can encourage bacteria growth.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, per the recommendation of the American Dental Association.
Is it important what kind of toothpaste do you use?
Yes. According to the ADA, you should use toothpaste with fluoride in it. Although opposers to that idea say you should make your own toothpaste.
And then there’s the idea of using charcoal toothpaste for whitening your teeth, which is a controversial topic on its own. Some people say it works great, others say it can be damaging to your teeth and you should use regular whitening toothpaste.
If you’d like to play it safe and follow the rules of the experts, you should use a toothpaste that includes fluoride.
When is the best time for brushing teeth?
The ADA recommends brushing 2-3 times per day, preferably 30-40 minutes after each meal.
Should you brush your gums?
Yes, the ADA says you should brush (or “massage”) where the tooth and gums meet to help prevent gum disease. This is where most plaque collects.
Can you brush your teeth too much?
Yes, you can. Brushing too much can wear down your teeth’s enamel, which can lead to a host of problems. It’s best to stick to the suggestion of brushing 2-3 times per day and it is important to use the proper technique.
Are there apps that can help with my oral hygiene?
Yes! There are plenty of apps that can help remind you to brush and also judge how well you’re doing. One we recommend is Dentacoin, a website and app that seeks to provide good dental care that’s affordable, thanks to their use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency payment.
- The ADA recommends brushing 2-3 times per day for 2-3 minutes each time, brushing gently each time.
- If you don’t brush your teeth every day, you can run into many oral and health issues that can affect not just your mouth but also your heart and pregnancy/birth.
- Most of the most commonly asked questions about brushing can be answered with a simple, “Follow the recommendations of the ADA.” As of right now, that’s the safest road to take.