Brushing and flossing are essential parts of keeping your teeth and gums healthy, but did you know that there are right and wrong ways to go about your oral hygiene routine? Here are some helpful tips for getting your dental health back on track.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day. Use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen tooth enamel. Fluoride is the best defense against tooth decay because it strengthens your tooth enamel to ward off decay. You can find it in different forms, including topical treatments, mouth rinses, and toothpaste.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging your gums. The soft bristles of a toothbrush are gentle on the gums, and they effectively remove debris from between teeth and along the gum line.
You can use an electric toothbrush or a soft-bristled manual toothbrush when you brush your teeth. Talk to your dentist about which one may be best for you before investing in one. If you’re trying to decide between a manual or electric toothbrush, you might benefit from doing a little research to see which one will better suit your needs and lifestyle. Electric toothbrushes tend to be more expensive than their manual counterparts, but they may be worth the extra money if they make it easier to keep your smile clean and healthy.
Choose a toothbrush with a soft-bristle head, preferably one that’s labeled as “extra soft” or “soft.” Hard toothbrushes with stiff bristles can actually damage healthy tooth enamel and even scratch the gums. Even with a “soft” brush, you should still be careful while brushing your teeth, being sure to use a gentle back-and-forth motion as you clean every surface of every tooth.
Choose a soft-bristled brush with a head that is small enough to reach all areas of the mouth, including the back of the mouth and tongue, to effectively remove food particles and debris from teeth. No matter what type of brush you use, brushing too hard or using a horizontal up-and-down motion can wear down enamel and even cause gum recession. Instead, use a circular motion with a soft-bristled brush to remove plaque gently and polish the teeth.
Be gentle on the gums as well. The bristles of your toothbrush should never touch your gum tissue, as it can lead to inflammation or damage. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when brushing with a manual toothbrush, and be sure to replace your brush at least every three months.
The tongue harbors a large number of bacteria and buildup that needs to be removed. Besides brushing twice a day, use a tongue scraper to remove excess buildup of plaque and food particles from the tongue each day. Tongue scrapers can be found at most drug stores.
Toothbrushes should be replaced sooner if the bristles are frayed or if they have been used with any type of medication that can discolor the bristles, like blood thinners or chemotherapy drugs. Your dentist will be able to recommend a replacement schedule based on your usage habits.
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