Dental hygiene is very important to overall health. However, dental care is most effective when done properly. Many people don’t realize that they’re taking care of their teeth incorrectly. If you’re worried you might be one of these people, read on to discover some helpful tips on proper dental care.
The Proper Way to Brush
Brushing teeth is a daily task. However, many people are unaware that there is a right and wrong way to brush their teeth. In fact, according to a survey by Men’s Health News, 90% of people brush their teeth wrong. Here’s the proper way to brush your teeth, starting with choosing the right toothbrush.
Certain toothbrushes are better for your oral health than others. Choose a toothbrush that’s comfortable for you to use, because the more comfortable it is for you, the more likely you are to brush your teeth. Many sizes and handle varieties are available, but these things are a matter of preference. The bristles, however, should be soft. Hard bristles are abrasive and can damage enamel.
In addition, your toothbrush should be stored in an environment that allows it to completely dry in between uses. Toothbrush cases and caps are great for storing your toothbrush during travel, but should not be used immediately after use as they will lock in the moisture, increasing the chance of bacterial growth. Don’t let this fact tempt you to skimp on rinsing your brush after each use, though; leaving the toothbrush un-rinsed can cause bacteria to grow, as well. In addition, you should replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, as it becomes worn out and is no longer as effective.
How to Brush
Brushing should be done a minimum of twice daily, at morning and at night. Too much brushing, however, can wear away enamel and irritate gums. To prevent this, professionals discourage brushing more than three times a day.
Brushing should take a total of about two minutes, spending about 30 seconds on each quadrant of the mouth. When brushing, the brush should be held at a 45 degree angle, using short strokes in a circular, up and down motion. Many people move their brush horizontally, but this can wear ridges in your enamel that cause teeth to become dull and rough. Don’t forget to get the inner surfaces of your teeth and your tongue, too!
The Proper Way to Floss
Flossing is often neglected, but is an essential part of your daily oral hygiene routine. Flossing gets in the tight spaces that your toothbrush can’t fit into. In addition, flossing has also been linked to the prevention of diabetes and other diseases. However, flossing is only effective when performed correctly; otherwise, it may cause more harm than good.
Choosing the Right Floss
There are many different types of floss available. You should use either nylon floss, which is multifilament, or PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) floss with one filament. While the nylon floss is much cheaper, its many filaments make it easy for the floss to tear or shred while in use. PTFE floss is one strand and therefore can easily slide in and out of tight spaces; however, it can be very expensive.
Floss is available in either waxed or unwaxed. Both are effective, so the choice is up to you. It’s better to use regular floss instead of harps or Waterpiks, however, as it’s the most effective.
How to Floss
To floss, cut off about 18 inches of floss. Wrap the ends around both of your middle fingers until only about 1-2 inches remains. Place in between two teeth and begin flossing in an up and down motion. Curve the floss around the base of each tooth to get any bacteria along the gum line. When you’re done, work the floss back down from in between the teeth and go to the next tooth. Be sure to always use a clean section of floss for each tooth, or else you will just be putting bacteria back in your mouth.
Flossing should be done once a day, either in the morning or at night. Some say that flossing should be done before brushing, because the bacteria and food particles removed with floss could be blocking the tooth’s exposure to fluoride if brushing is done first.
The Proper Way to Use Mouthwash
Mouthwash is probably the most overlooked part of oral hygiene with only 31% of adults claiming to use mouthwash. However, while mouthwash isn’t a necessary part of oral hygiene, it’s very beneficial in killing extra bacteria missed from brushing and flossing. It also helps to freshen breath and strengthen teeth.
Choosing Your Mouthwash
There are many types of mouthwash available: fluoride, antiseptic, cosmetic, and more. There is no one “right” mouthwash, so you should choose the one that best fits your dental needs. However, make sure that whichever mouthwash you choose is non-alcoholic. Alcohol dries out your mouth, which can promote the growth of bacteria because saliva has anti-bacterial properties. Mouthwash that contains alcohol could actually cause more harm than good, so be sure to stay away from alcohol-based products.
How to Use Mouthwash
After you’ve brushed and flossed, measure out 20mL of mouthwash and gargle the liquid for 45-60 seconds. Be careful not to swallow any of the mouthwash. After you are finished gargling, spit the mouthwash out and rinse with water, unless stated otherwise in the directions on the bottle. It’s best not to eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after use for maximum effectiveness.
If you use a mouthwash, you should use it one to two times a day. It can be used at any time of day, though some say it’s most effective in the afternoon so the fluoride can integrate into the tooth structure.
While brushing your teeth incorrectly is definitely better than skipping brushing all together, it’s not as effective and could potentially damage your teeth. For the best results, use the proper methods listed for brushing, flossing and using mouthwash. Talk to your dentist for more information on proper dental care.