Brushing is the most effective method for removing harmful plaque from your teeth and gums. Getting the debris off your teeth and gums in a timely manner prevents bacteria in the food you eat from turning into harmful, cavity causing acids.
Most dentists agree that brushing two times a day for two minutes is the minimum; if you use a fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before bed at night, you can get away without using toothpaste during the middle of the day. A simple brushing with plain water or rinsing your mouth with water for 30 seconds after lunch will generally do the job.
Since everyone's teeth are different, see me first before choosing a brushing technique. Here are some popular techniques that work:
- Use a circular motion to brush only two or three teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth.
- Place your toothbrush next to your teeth at a 45-degree angle and gently brush in a circular motion, not up and down. This kind of motion wears down your tooth structure and can lead to receding gums, or expose the root of your tooth. You should brush all surfaces of your teeth - front, back, top, and between other teeth, rocking the brush back and forth gently to remove any plaque growing under the gum.
- Don't forget the other surfaces of your mouth that are covered in bacteria - including the gums, the roof and floor of your mouth, and most importantly, your tongue. Brushing your tongue not only removes trapped bacteria and other disease-causing germs, but it also freshens your breath.
- Remember to replace your brush when the bristles begin to spread because a worn toothbrush will not properly clean your teeth.
- Effective brushing usually takes about two to three minutes. Believe it or not, studies have shown that most people rush during tooth brushing.
Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?
It's possible to brush your teeth effectively with a manual toothbrush. However, an electric toothbrush can be a great alternative to a manual toothbrush, especially if you have arthritis or other conditions that make it difficult to brush well. An electric toothbrush's bristle movement might even help you remove more plaque from your teeth and improve your gum health.
If you choose to use an electric toothbrush, make sure the toothbrush is comfortable to hold and easy to use. Your dentist might suggest a model with a rotating-oscillating head or a head that uses ultrasonic pulses to move the bristles. Other features, such as adjustable power levels, timers and rechargeable batteries, are optional. Follow the manufacturer's instructions about when to replace the head to ensure the toothbrush continues working effectively.
Whether you choose an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush, remember that what's most important is daily brushing and flossing.