You might be brushing your teeth twice a day but are you brushing the correct way?
Growing up as a child, you were probably told to brush your teeth a million times, whether it was from your parents or by your dentist, so don’t worry we won’t pester you with that.
Instead, we’re going to help you fight tooth decay and more serious issues that would lead to getting teeth pulled out with step by step instructions on how to brush your teeth, the type of brush you should be using, and other oral hygiene methods that will improve your oral health.
How to brush your teeth
Squirt a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto your brush. Using too much toothpaste will cause you to spit early and stop brushing. You also run the risk of swallowing more fluoride, which can lead to fluorosis.
Start at the back of your mouth with your toothbrush at the gum line on a 45 degree angle so that the brush is placed partly on your gums and begin gently brushing in short horizontal strokes. Be careful not to scrub too hard as you run the risk of causing your gums to recede, as well as damaging your tooth enamel.
Spend at least two to three minutes brushing your teeth. Repeat the motion above for around 20 strokes, allowing for adequate time per section. Work your way around your mouth so that you spend at least 15 seconds in each section.
Add a roll or flick motion when moving brush from gums to biting edge of tooth to help remove any plaque build-up beneath the gum line.
To make things easier, divide your mouth in 4 sections: top left, top right, bottom left, and bottom right. This means you should be spending around 30 seconds in each section.
Don’t forget to brush your molars. Place your toothbrush so that the bristles are resting on top of your bottom molars and begin to move your brush in and out from the back to the front of your mouth.
Repeat this process on all 4 sections to eliminate any bacteria.
Brush the underside of your teeth. The most commonly skipped part of brushing is the inside of the lower section. to make things easier, hold your brush in a vertical position, and again, add a roll or flick motion at the end to remove any plaque build-up beneath the gum line.
Repeat this process in each section.
Brush your tongue. Either using the bristles of your brush, or some brushes may have a scraper on the back of the head, gently scrub your tongue to remove any bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Rinse your mouth out. You may choose to rinse your mouth out with water or simply spit the leftover suds out. Research has shown that rinsing your mouth out completely actually removes the fluoride from your teeth, whereas some studies show there is no significant impact in doing so. It’s entirely up to you!
Mouthwash is optional, flossing is highly recommended.
We recommend brushing at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed to give yourself the best chance of fighting tooth decay.
What type of toothbrush should I use?
Soft nylon toothbrushes are the most effective at removing plaque and food debris caught between your teeth without irritating your gums and eroding your tooth enamel.
A common misconception is that hard bristles clean better when in fact it’s quite the opposite, as hard bristles can cause more harm. Make sure your toothbrush is small and compact enough to fit inside your mouth comfortably, allowing you to brush in those hard to reach places.
What about electric toothbrushes?
According to Australian Society of Dentists, an electric toothbrush helps loosen plaque, has timers to ensure you brush your teeth for the right amount of time, and come with variable speeds to help reduce pressure on sensitive teeth and gums.
It’s also great for people who suffer from arthritis or other conditions that limit dexterity.
However, manual or electric, both types of toothbrushes are equally as good and will get the job done in terms of removing plaque, providing proper technique is used.
How often should I replace my toothbrush?
When the bristles start to wear out they lose their flexibility and effectiveness to clean your teeth.
The Australian Dental Association recommends changing your toothbrush every 3 months or as soon as the bristles begin to splay, whichever comes first.
Make sure to always rinse your brush thoroughly and allow it to dry uncovered in an upright position.
What type of toothpaste should I use?
Brushing with toothpaste that contains fluoride is the most effective way to receive fluoride and fight tooth decay. We recommend consulting your dentist first as certain toothpastes can be quite abrasive and may cause pain with sensitive teeth.
Avoid using toothpaste for babies and toddlers up to 18months and use low-fluoride formulas for children 18months to 6 years old to prevent fluorosis.
What about activated charcoal? Using activated charcoal toothpaste helps remove stains, removes acidic plaque, provides fresh breath and may aid in good dental health. However, we recommend using charcoal toothpaste sparingly as it can be quite abrasive and cause a sanding/thinning effect on your enamel.
It’s best to consult your dentist before using activated charcoal toothpaste.
Should I use mouthwash?
Aside from defeating bad breath and killing harmful bacteria, using mouthwash can be more detrimental to your health than not using it at all. Alcohol based mouthwash can dry out your mouth, cause more cavities, and does not truly correct bad breath.
If you are using mouthwash, we recommend using one that is alcohol-free and all-natural. It’s always best to consult your dentist if you’re unsure.
At Alpha Dental we know that oral health can be a teething nuisance. That’s why we have made it our mission to provide a long-term and sustainable solution for your oral health. We take the time to listen to your individual needs before we create a plan, ensuring all your requirements and concerns are addressed. We fill in the gaps so that you can smile with confidence.