Are we maximising the benefits of brushing our teeth?

The simple task of brushing our teeth seems so easy for us, but are we doing it properly?

We have brushed our teeth for as long as we can remember and with time we have created bad habits. What we don’t want is brushing our teeth to be pointless. Here’s a list of mistakes we make when brushing our teeth and how we can fix them:

You brush too soon – We like to think that brushing straight after eating is the best way to remove any food remnants. It makes sense but it’s actually best to leave cleaning until at least 20 to 30 minutes after eating. This is because after we eat, acids from foods and drinks are still sitting in our mouths. This means using brushing will now act as an abrasive and erode away your enamel with the acids in your mouth. 

Tip – To take away some of the acids, simply wash your food down with plain water after you have eaten. It is advised to wait at least  30 minutes to an hour for any brushing after eating. 

Using a mouthwash after brushing – Mouthwash freshens our breath and removes any residual toothpaste from our mouths, so we like to finish our brush with a rinse. Unfortunately, you are undoing your brushing by rinsing with mouthwash straight after brushing. The ingredients in your toothpaste usually take up to 20 minutes to work and coat your teeth to protect them from a day of eating and drinking. 

Tip – You will achieve the best results from your mouthwash by using it as a ‘freshen up’ at different times of your day, when you are not brushing.  

Brushing too quickly – Brushing your teeth too quickly will save you possibly one minute of your day, but it will not do its job with cleaning up the bacteria in your mouth. Ideally, brushing your teeth should take 2- 3 minutes, breaking down each quadrant of your mouth into 30 second sections. This is enough to break down the bacteria and brush away any plaque build up. 

Tip – Playing your favorite song in the morning will not only put you in a good mood but it can also help you time your brushing. The same goes for your evening brush. Research has shown that as long as you spend at least one part of your day brushing thoroughly and flossing, it will do wonders for your teeth and oral health. 

Forgetting your gums – Brushing your whole tooth actually means your gum line, too. Bacteria can live in the gums and often cause gum disease, so it’s important to take appropriate care of our gums when we brush. 

Tip – It is recommended that you tilt your toothbrush to a 45 degree angle and brush up and down along the gum line on the outside of your teeth and tongue side. 

Brushing all the surfaces of your teeth – It is very common to miss out the tongue side of your teeth, but leaving this area often causes calculus, where a large amount of plaque builds up. It will become inflamed and hard to get rid of. 

Tip – Brushing the surfaces and both sides of your teeth in small circular up and down motions will get rid of plaque correctly. 

Keeping your toothbrush too long – We don’t have a use by date displayed on our toothbrush, so it’s often used for longer than it should. Bacteria start to harbour and grow in your toothbrush as it wears. The bristles start to become misshapen, discolour and fray.  Throw out the brush and replace it!

Tip -You should change your toothbrush or tooth head every 3 to 4 months and store in a dry place. A wet brush will only breed more bacteria and germs. 

Choosing the right brush – The right brush is different for everybody. It is hard to choose the correct brush when you are faced with a hundred in the supermarket. Using brushes too big/ small and too hard/soft can have negative impacts on your teeth. Using a toothbrush too big and too hard for your mouth will only wear down your teeth and irritate your gums. 

Tip – Choosing the right brush for you is making sure you use the right size for your mouth and teeth. If you have teeth in hard to reach places, choose a brush with an angle. Softer bristles are often better than the harder ones.  If you’re unsure, ask your dentist at The Mall, who will be able to advise you.

Using too much toothpaste – You should be using about a pea sized amount each time. If you use more than that your mouth may mistakenly feel cleaner than it really is. Using the right amount of toothpaste will help you to keep track of how clean each tooth is, and if you have been brushing for long enough.

Establishing a routine which applies these tips can lead to healthier teeth and gums.

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