Admit it. Brushing your teeth is so second nature. You barely think about it but doing it is key for a healthy mouth. It can help you avoid problems like cavities and gum disease.
Sharpen your skills with these easy-to-follow tips:
Choose the Right Tool
Just any old toothbrush may not be the one for you. Think about the size of your mouth, says Richard H. Price, DMD, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association. “If you are straining to open wide enough to let the brush in, the brush is probably too big,” he says.
Electric or manual?
“It’s an individual preference,” says Michael Sesemann, DDS. Price agrees. “It’s not the toothbrush, it’s the brusher.”
Electric toothbrushes can make it easier to do a better job, especially if you have arthritis or other trouble with your hands, arms, or shoulders.
Give It Time
Are you brushing enough? Twice a day is recommended, but three times a day is best. It should take at least 2 minutes each time, which most people fall short on doing. Divide your mouth into four sections and spend 30 seconds on each.
Some electric toothbrushes have built-in timers and can track how you’re using it by syncing to your smartphone.
Don’t Overdo It
Brushing more than three times a day might not be ideal. That’s because too much can wear down your teeth’s outer shell, called enamel, and damage your gums.
Be gentle. It doesn’t take a lot of force to remove plaque!
Perfect Your Technique
Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums, and make an up-and-down motion. Use short strokes. Brush outer and inner tooth surfaces, back molars, and your tongue.
Don’t forget about those hard-to-reach areas! If you aren’t thorough, plaque has time to sit in your mouth and cause damage.
Switch Things Up
Do you always begin in the same place? Dentists say most of us do.
Pick Products Wisely
The kind of toothpaste you use matters. The ones that brighten or control tartar can be harsh. An increase in whitening particles can be harmful and sand away tooth structure.
Go back to plain old fluoride toothpaste. If you want to lighten your smile, you can always switch between whitening toothpaste and regular.
Control Your Sour Tooth
Energy drinks, diet sodas, and sour candies even healthy things like apple juice, orange juice, and coffee have acid that can soften tooth enamel.
If you do go for that stuff, wait half an hour before you brush. That gives your saliva time to restore tooth enamel.
Avoid ‘Potty Mouth’
Most of us store our brushes in the bathroom not the cleanest place in the house. To keep yours tidy, stand it up in a holder. If you leave it on the counter, you could expose it to germs from your toilet or sink. And don’t let two brushes touch if they’re stored together.
Let yours air dry — a moist brush is more likely to grow bacteria. Use a cover that lets air in when you travel.
Let It Go
How old is your brush? You should get a new one every 3 or 4 months. Also, give it the eye test. Once the bristles lose their normal flexibility and start to break apart, change your toothbrush. Frayed or broken bristles won’t clean as well.
If you can’t decide which toothbrush to buy, ask your dentist which kind is best.