What is the Best Technique for Brushing?

There are a number of effective brushing techniques. Patients are advised to check with their dentist or hygienist to determine which technique is best for them, since tooth position and gum condition vary. One effective, easy-to-remember technique involves using a circular or elliptical motion to brush a couple of teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth.

 

Place a toothbrush beside your teeth at a 45-degree angle and gently brush teeth in an elliptical motion. Brush the outside of the teeth, inside the teeth, your tongue, the chewing surfaces and between teeth. Using a back-and-forth motion causes the gum surface to recede, can expose the root surface or make the root surface tender. You also risk wearing down the gum line.

 

Soft or hard bristles?

 

In general, a toothbrush head should be small (1″ by 1/2″) for easy access. It should have a long, wide handle for a firm grasp and soft, nylon bristles with round ends. Some brushes are too abrasive and can wear down teeth. A soft, rounded, multi-tufted brush can clean teeth effectively. Press just firmly enough to reach the spaces between the teeth as well as the surface. Medium and hard bristles are not recommended.

 

How long should I brush?

 

It might be a good idea to brush with the radio on, since dentists generally recommend brushing three to four minutes, the average length of a song. Using an egg timer is another way to measure your brushing time. Patients generally think they’re brushing longer, but most spend less than a minute brushing.

 

To make sure you’re doing a thorough job and not missing any spots, patients are advised to brush the full three to four minutes twice a day, instead of brushing quickly five or more times through the day.

 

Should I brush at work?

 

Definitely, but most Americans don’t brush during the workday. Yet a survey by Oral-B Laboratories and the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) shows if you keep a toothbrush at work, the chances you will brush during the day increase by 65 percent.

 

Getting the debris off teeth right away stops sugary snacks from turning to damaging acids and catches starchy foods like potato chips before they turn to cavity-causing sugar. If you brush with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before going to bed, you don’t even need to use toothpaste at work. You can just brush and rinse before heading back to your desk. If you don’t have a toothbrush, rinsing your mouth with water for 30 seconds after lunch also helps.

 

Tips to improve your office brushing habits:

 

  • Post a sticky note on your desk or computer as a reminder to brush teeth after lunch.
  • Brush teeth right after lunch, before you become absorbed in work.
  • Store your toothbrush and toothpaste at work in a convenient and handy place.
  • Make brushing your teeth part of your freshening-up routine at work.
  •  When brushing at the office or away from home, it’s important to make an extra effort to keep your toothbrush germ-free.

Tips on how to properly store and care for your toothbrush at work:

 

  • Always store your toothbrush in a travel container.
  • Dry your toothbrush after use and before returning to its container.
  • Change the toothbrush you take to work more often than your toothbrush at home to avoid bacteria build-up.

How Long Should I Brush?

When it comes to brushing your teeth, you may think that is one area where you don’t need help. But most people are only brushing one-third of the suggested time. Check this out::

 

The average person brushes:

 

Two minutes a day

14 minutes a week

12.1 hours a year

38.5 days in their lifetime

 

The average person should brush:

 

Six minutes a day

42 minutes a week

36.4 hours a year

122 days in their lifetime

How Do I Choose and Use a Toothbrush?

Angled heads, raised bristles, oscillating tufts and handles that change colors with use: you name it, toothbrushes come in all shapes, colors and sizes, promising to perform better than the rest. But no body of scientific evidence exists yet to show that any one type of toothbrush design is better at removing plaque than another. The only thing that matters is that you brush your teeth. Many people just don’t brush long enough. Most of us brush less than a minute, but to effectively reach all areas and scrub off cavity-causing bacteria, it is recommended to brush for two to three minutes.

 

Which toothbrush is best?

 

In general, a toothbrush head should be small (1″ by 1/2″) for easy access to all areas of the mouth, teeth and gums. It should have a long, wide handle for a firm grasp. It should have soft nylon bristles with rounded ends so you won’t hurt your gums.

 

When should I change my toothbrush?

 

Be sure to change your toothbrush, or toothbrush head (if you’re using an electric toothbrush) before the bristles become splayed and frayed. Not only are old toothbrushes ineffective, but they may harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Toothbrushes should be changed every three to four months. Sick people should change their toothbrush at the beginning of an illness and after they feel better.

 

How do I brush?

 

Place the toothbrush beside your teeth at a 45-degree angle and rub back-and-forth gently. Brush outside and behind the teeth, your tongue and especially on chewing surfaces and between teeth. Be sure to brush at least twice a day, especially after meals.

 

How long should I brush my teeth?

 

You should brush your teeth at least two to three minutes twice a day. Brush your teeth for the length of a song on the radio, the right amount of time to get the best results from brushing. Unfortunately, most Americans only brush for 45 to 70 seconds twice a day.

 

Which is better, an electric or manual toothbrush?

 

Electric toothbrushes don’t work that much better than manual toothbrushes, but they do motivate some reluctant brushers to clean their teeth more often. The whizzing sounds of an electric toothbrush and the tingle of the rotary tufts swirling across teeth and gums often captivate people who own electric toothbrushes. They are advantageous because they can cover more area faster. Electric toothbrushes are recommended for people who have limited manual dexterity, such as a disabled or elderly person and those who wear braces. Sometimes, it takes more time and effort to use an electric toothbrush because batteries must be recharged, and it must be cleaned after every use.

 

How do electric toothbrushes work?

 

Electric toothbrushes generally work by using tufts of nylon bristles to stimulate gums and clean teeth in an oscillating, or rotary, motion. Some tufts are arranged in a circular pattern, while others have the traditional shape of several bristles lined up on a row. When first using an electric toothbrush, expect some bleeding from your gums. The bleeding will stop when you learn to control the brush and your gums become healthier. Children under the age of 10 should be supervised when using an electric toothbrush. Avoid mashing the tufts against your teeth in an effort to clean them. Use light force and slow movements, and allow the electric bristle action to do its job.

 

Don’t Rush the Brush, Brush to the Beat!

Despite the variety and advancements in toothbrushes today, people don’t brush long enough to get the best results, reports the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

 

“Since many people brush during the morning or at night with the radio on, I tell my patients to brush for one song,” says Luke Matranga, DDS, past president of the AGD. “That’s about three minutes  the right amount of time to get the best results from brushing.”

 

“People will swear that they’ve brushed three to four minutes, but the average person brushes for less than a minute. This is not long enough to reach all areas of the mouth and scrub off cavity-causing bacteria,” says Dr. Matranga.

 

Generally, a toothbrush should have a long, wide handle with soft bristles. Be sure to brush on both sides of the teeth and the tongue. Change toothbrushes every three to four months before their bristles become frayed. Toss the toothbrush after an illness to avoid harmful bacteria harbored in the bristles.

 

Electric toothbrushes are a great option for those who have limited dexterity, such as older people or arthritis sufferers, and are effective for people with braces since the rotating heads can clean hard-to-reach areas.

Don’t Let Good Hygiene Habits Hibernate!

Don’t Let Good Hygiene Habits Hibernate!

Winter is a busy time for most; with all of the parties, dinners, shopping, celebrations, and altered schedules, it’s difficult to remember all of the tasks that are routine in the “off months.” That’s no reason to forget to practice good oral hygiene, however, especially with all of the starchy, sugary treats present that could wreak havoc on dental health.

 

A comprehensive oral health care plan is the best way to fight chances of periodontal disease, according to an article in the November 2007 issue of AGD Impact, the Academy of General Dentistry’s (AGD) monthly newsmagazine. Dentists recommend that patients brush thoroughly twice a day, floss once a day and rinse with mouthwash when necessary to remove plaque and keep the mouth free from bacteria.

 

Regular care is recommended because of the small amount of time it takes for bacteria to invade the mouth, even if it’s clean. Studies have shown that plaque will regrow on teeth that are completely clean within three to four hours of brushing.

 

AGD spokesperson June Lee, DDS, MAGD, has noticed in her practice that the most common habit her patients ignore is flossing. “Although flossing requires patience and dexterity, with time and experience, a person can learn to floss more quickly and still be effective,” she says. “In our fast-paced world, many people don’t have the patience to give flossing a chance to become second-nature, but it can tremendously improve their oral health.”

 

Hygiene tips for a stellar smile:

 

  • Brush with the radio on – dentists recommend brushing for the entire length of a song.
  • Use fluoridated, antimicrobial toothpastes and mouth rinses.  They help to make the tooth structure resistant to decay.
  • Keep oral hygiene products at work.  Studies show that the chance of a person using them during the day will increase 65 percent.
  • Talk to your dentist about new products you’re using, as all products are not suited for all people.
  • Skip the caffeine. Avoiding caffeine before a dental appointment can make you less anxious.
  • Communicate. Use hand signals to inform the dentist that you are uncomfortable, and talk to your dentist about your specific fears.

5 Habits That Destroy Your Smile

Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Steven A. Ghareeb, DDS, FAGD, offers advice on how to keep your smile healthy and pretty by avoiding these five bad oral health habits.

 

  1. Not flossing

Brushing your teeth twice a day is important, but many patients don’t realize that flossing at least once a day is just as critical to achieving—and maintaining—a healthy smile. Flossing removes the cavity-causing bacteria left behind from food particles that get stuck between teeth. “Although bleeding and irritation sometimes can occur when you first start flossing, it’s important to keep at it,” says Dr. Ghareeb. “Your gums will toughen up and your oral health will be better for it.”

 

 

  1. Brushing too soon after eating

Consuming acidic foods and beverages, such as sports and energy drinks, citrus fruits, wine, and tomatoes, can erode tooth enamel—the glossy outer layer of the tooth. Brushing your teeth too soon after eating and drinking these items can cause more damage because you are essentially brushing the acid into the teeth, not getting rid of it. Instead, you should rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and beverages and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your pearly whites!

 

 

  1. Not replacing your toothbrush often enough

Not only are old toothbrushes ineffective, but they also harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections. Toothbrushes should be changed every three to four months. “It’s also important to change your toothbrush after you’ve had a cold,” says Dr. Ghareeb.

 

 

  1. Excessively bleaching your teeth

Overzealous bleaching can cause your teeth to look unnaturally white and increase tooth sensitivity. Before using an at-home bleaching product, talk to your dentist. “He or she can advise you on proper use of these products as well as which type of bleaching system will provide you with the best results,” says Dr. Ghareeb.

 

 

  1. Using a hard-bristled toothbrush

A hard-bristled toothbrush coupled with an aggressive brushing technique can cause irreversible damage to your gums. Use a soft toothbrush and gently brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle, in a circular motion. Using a back-and-forth, sawing motion causes the gums to recede, and can expose the root of the tooth, making teeth extremely sensitive.

Chocolate And Your Teeth

Under most circumstances, dentists are not fans of candy. The sugar in candy is the favorite food of bacteria that cause tooth decay.

However, when it comes to chocolate, certain types may actually be good for oral health! To be clear, this is not a blog post in which we give you a free pass to eat all the chocolate you want. Only certain types of chocolate have any health benefits, and too much of even the healthiest kinds probably isn’t a good thing.

All Chocolate Is Not Created Equal

How can you tell where any given chocolate falls on the spectrum from most processed to least? It helps to know a little about how chocolate is made. The most important ingredient is the cocoa bean. After fermenting, the beans can either be roasted and made into cocoa powder, or cold pressed into cacao powder, which retains more of the original nutrients. You’ll get the most nutrients from cacao nibs or powder, but the stuff is pretty bitter and the chocolatey taste isn’t as strong.

If you’d rather stick with the chocolate you’re used to, there are still factors to consider. The main ingredients in a chocolate bar are cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk (if it’s milk chocolate). White chocolate is made with cocoa butter and sugar and contains no cocoa solids, so it has none of the beneficial nutrients. Milk chocolate tends to contain at most 10 percent cocoa solids, so the tiny amount of nutrients from the cocoa beans is offset by a ton of sugar. Not a healthy choice. But let’s talk about dark chocolate.

The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, particularly 70 percent cocoa (or cacao) or higher, is where you’ll start hearing buzzwords like “superfood.” That’s because the cocoa bean is full of healthy antioxidants–specifically, polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins–and dark chocolate has enough cocoa in it to keep most of them. Bonus points: there isn’t much sugar.

Antioxidants have all kinds of benefits for overall health, but let’s focus on oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath, and antioxidants play a crucial role in all of those. They help stabilize and strengthen your own oral tissues, protect against cell mutation, and make it harder for harmful bacteria to flourish.

Chocolate Still Isn’t Everything

Like we said before, this blog post isn’t a license for you to eat as much chocolate as you want. No matter how full of antioxidants it is, dark chocolate still doesn’t replace other important oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments. If you love to snack, however, you might consider swapping a few items heavy in processed sugars for dark chocolate or cacao nibs. Your teeth will thank you!

The Bare Bones Of Gum Recession

No one looks forward to getting “long in the tooth” because of gum recession.

However, while tooth length might be an accurate yardstick for judging the age of a horse, age is not the culprit behind receding gums in humans. Gum recession is simply such a gradual process that it can take decades before the effects are noticeable.

Not All Gum Recession Is Avoidable

There are many contributing factors to gum recession, and some unfortunately include genetics. Some people simply have fragile gums or don’t have enough jaw bone covering the front of the roots of their teeth to support gums up to the crowns. The good news is that many of the other contributing factors can be controlled, and even if you’re predisposed to gum recession, there are ways to minimize it.

Bruxism Versus Your Gums

Chronic teeth-grinding, or bruxism, causes a whole host of problems for your oral health, and one of them is increasing your risk for gum recession. All that grinding puts too much pressure on the gums, so they begin to retreat. Bruxism can be a difficult habit to break, especially if you’re doing it in your sleep, but you can minimize the damage to the jaw bones, gums, and teeth by using a mouth guard.

Overbrushing Damages Gum Tissue

It might sound counterintuitive, but you can actually brush your teeth too much. Or, at least, too hard. Brushing teeth isn’t like scrubbing the grime out of tile grout; gums are not built to withstand the abrasive assault of hard-bristled brushes (and neither is the enamel on our teeth). Soft bristles are actually ideal for scrubbing away plaque and massaging the gums without damaging them. The same principle applies to flossing; you should definitely floss once a day, but go easy on those gums.

Tartar Buildup And Gum Disease

When plaque isn’t removed by brushing and flossing, it will eventually harden into tartar, which can only be removed by dental professionals. This means that the longer you go without a routine dental cleaning, the more tartar builds up along your gum lines, which puts you at risk for gum disease. Speaking of which…

In the early stages of gum disease, also called gingivitis, the health of your jaw bones is not yet at risk, which is good for avoiding gum recession. If your gums are tender, swollen, and bleed easily, it’s likely gingivitis. You can combat it with healthy brushing and flossing habits, but it’s also wise to bring the problem to us.

If untreated, gingivitis advances to become periodontitis. This is when gums start pulling away from the teeth and the integrity of the jaw bones is compromised. There are many risk factors for gum disease, including smoking, hormonal changes (like during pregnancy), diabetes, and dry mouth as a side effect of medications. At this point, better oral hygiene habits aren’t enough and professional treatment is absolutely necessary.

Maintaining Your Post-Invisible Aligner Smile

While traditional wire braces are still the most efficient at straightening teeth, fixing crowding, and correcting an underbite or overbite, invisible aligners have become an attractive alternative in recent years.

Being able to get all the benefits of braces with such a low-profile appliance that can be removed for brushing, flossing, and eating can make the orthodontic process far more palatable. But what’s next after you’ve progressed through every aligner tray and your teeth are perfectly aligned? What will it take to maintain the smile you’ve always wanted?

Wear Retainers As Recommended

In some cases, the final invisible aligner tray can be used initially as a full-time retainer and eventually as a nighttime one after the patient’s teeth are correctly aligned. In others, a separate retainer will be recommended, and those tend to be sturdier. No matter what type of retainer you end up with, be sure to follow the care instructions in order to keep it clean and effective as long as possible.

The reason it’s important to use retainers after the teeth are straight is that it can take around a year for the periodontal ligaments–the tiny connective tissue fibers that hold our teeth in place in our jaws–to get used to the new position. Without retainers, your teeth will be in danger of shifting back to the position those ligaments were used to.

Stay On Top Of Your Oral Hygiene

The most important component of post-aligner dental health is how well you take care of your teeth. That means maintaining good habits, such as:

  • brushing for two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • flossing daily with traditional floss, interdental brushes, or a water flosser
  • avoiding sugary snacks and sodas that supercharge bad oral bacteria

DIY Teeth Whitening Trends: Fact Or Fiction?

Trends impact just about every aspect of life, from slang and fashion to which toys are collectibles this year and which fad diet everyone’s aunt is doing.

Most trends are harmless symptoms of an ever-evolving society and culture, but when they affect the ways we take care of ourselves, they can become serious. In recent years, do-it-yourself teeth whitening has been a “trendy” topic, so let’s take a look at a few of the more popular methods.

Charcoal Versus Tooth Enamel

As counterintuitive as it seems to rub black powder on your teeth and expect them to become whiter, the rationale behind the idea makes sense. Charcoal is extremely porous and absorbent, and has been used even in hospitals to safely neutralize toxins. In theory, it could do the same for your teeth.

However, charcoal isn’t just porous, it’s also abrasive. Even as it absorbs harmful compounds from your mouth and disrupts bacterial populations, it could also be scraping away your enamel, doing more harm than good. Until we know more about the effects of charcoal on teeth, it’s safer to give that home remedy a pass.

Lemon Juice: Dissolving Stains Or Dissolving Teeth?

The enamel on your teeth is the hardest substance in your body, but it is extremely susceptible to erosion by acid. Your saliva keeps the pH in your mouth balanced to protect your enamel, but any time you eat or drink something acidic, that pH is disrupted and your teeth are vulnerable. Using lemon juice on your teeth in hopes of whitening them is, therefore, likely to cause a lot of enamel erosion, and once that enamel is gone, it’s gone for good.

Oil Pulling: An Ancient Folk Remedy

Oil pulling involves swishing oil (typically coconut, sunflower, sesame, or olive oil) around in one’s mouth for up to twenty minutes. Proponents of oil pulling claim it has numerous health benefits, including teeth whitening, but the American Dental association doesn’t recommend it because there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims.

Strawberries And Bananas

Strawberries do contain some citric acid, but they also contain malic acid (particularly when ripe), which actually can give your teeth a whiter appearance. Bananas contain potassium, magnesium, and manganese, all of which promote healthier teeth and can help remove surface stains. So these two do-it-yourself teeth whiteners may actually provide some benefit! Both fruits still contain sugar, however, so you should still brush your teeth with dentist approved toothpaste after eating them.

Curious about those whitening mouthpieces that emit blue light you see all over social media? Watch the video below to learn whether or not they’re really effective:

Stick To The Science

Trends like charcoal toothpaste and lemon juice mouthwash will come and (hopefully) go, and occasionally we’ll discover remedies that do have benefits, like strawberries and bananas, but the best benefits to our teeth will always come from dentist-approved methods. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day, avoid sugary drinks and snacks, and schedule regular dental appointments.

If all of these good habits aren’t keeping your teeth white enough, talk to us about safe, professional whitening options.