Patients often ask why is it important to brush your teeth. Gum disease is one of the most prevalent illnesses in the world, and a leading cause of many oral health concerns. Untreated gum disease can lead to a host of other complications like periodontitis, teeth falling out, and even increased risk of heart disease. Yet preventing gum disease is one of the easiest things people can do — in the comfort of their own home.
Why Brushing Your Teeth Is Important
Brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day isn’t a meaningless mantra from the dental community — it’s essential medical advice! Just by brushing and flossing twice a day, you can prevent almost all gum disease. Doing so thereby also helps prevent more severe complications and more complicated medical procedures, like root canals.
Brushing your teeth also helps prevent tooth decay. Teeth that aren’t cleaned regularly will become home to many bacteria that start to eat the tooth away. In mild cases, this can result in the need for fillings. In more advanced cases, crowns, inlays, or onlays may be needed to partially restore a tooth.
All of these conditions require expensive, time-consuming processes and procedures to fix. Meanwhile, brushing and flossing your teeth costs a few dollars a month. What would you prefer?
Brushing Tip 01 – Choosing The Right Toothbrush
Not all toothbrushes are made equal, and not all people require the same toothbrush.
For most adults, a small-medium sized brush head with soft to medium, rounded-ended nylon bristles are your best bet. The head of the brush needs to fit into all areas of the mouth. The bristles cannot be too hard or coarse, or else they’ll scrape away the enamel from your teeth and cause more harm than good.
Children will need child-sized brushes, but with the same type of bristles.
There are specialist toothbrushes out there for people with sensitive teeth, irregularly shaped teeth, or motor control who can’t easily hold a toothbrush. Your Port Stephens dentist will be able to recommend the right type of brush to suit your needs.
Electric toothbrushes with heads which rotate in both directions simultaneously have been shown to be better at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes. Power toothbrushes can be used by anyone, even children, and can make cleaning more thorough.
Brushing Tip 02 — How To Brush
The main goal of brushing is to remove plaque and bits of food from on and around your teeth. This prevents bacteria from building up and getting out of hand.
- Don’t aim the bristles directly at the teeth. Instead, tilt the bristle tips to a 45-degree angle against your gumline. Use small circular movements to move the bristles over all of the surfaces of the tooth.
- Start by brushing the outer surface of each tooth, making sure to keep the bristles angled against your gumline.
- Repeat with the interior surfaces of your teeth.
- Brush along the biting surfaces of your teeth, paying attention to the molars at the back.
- Finish off by brushing your tongue — this will freshen your breath and help remove bacteria in your mouth.
As suggested, you should brush twice a day with fluoride teeth, morning and night.
Brushing Tip 03 – Young Children
Teaching kids to brush their teeth can be a bit difficult. We recommend taking them to a dentist when they’re young, where oral hygienists will be only too happy to help you — and your child — learn the proper method of brushing their teeth.
Some things you can do at home include:
- Help them with holding their brush at first. Special brushes with oversized handles help kids hold onto brushes properly. Brushes with small handles might need to be padded up for children to grip them properly.
- Lead by example. Brush your teeth with your children so they can see how it’s done. Help them with getting the brush over their teeth and cleaning every surface.
- Buy “disclosing pills.” These are pills which mix with saliva for 30 seconds before being spat out. They make plaque turn a different colour, usually red. This helps children see exactly where the plaque is so they can concentrate on those areas when cleaning their teeth.
Brushing Tip 04 – Braces and Invisalign
People undergoing orthodontic treatment need to adapt how they brush their teeth.
For Invisalign, you can brush and floss your teeth as regular. Remove the aligners, perform your oral hygiene, and put the aligners back in. However, if you’re worried that brushing too soon after a meal — or you eat acidic foods and know brushing too soon after will erode your enamel — you can switch to a soft-bristled brush and very gentle brushing motions. This allows you to brush soon after eating without worrying while getting your aligners back in quickly.
For traditional fixed braces, you will need to treat the braces as additional tooth surfaces to brush. Start by rinsing your mouth with water, to help dislodge food particles. When you brush, you need to brush the tooth between the gum line and the bracket, and from the bracket to the biting surface of the tooth. Also brush the top, bottom, and front of the bracket itself. This can make brushing take longer, and is a bit more difficult to manage, but it’s important to be thorough to keep the teeth protected.
Brushing Tip 05 — Dentures
Dentures need to be cleaned just as much as your teeth do. However, as they are not made of enamel and dentine, the tools and processes are a little different.
Dentures use special denture brushes. Rinse the denture thoroughly, then use a moistened denture brush to brush the surfaces gently. Brushing too hard will cause damage to plastic or metal parts over time.
Brush gums, tongue, and any remaining natural teeth with a regular toothbrush and fluoride paste.
Rinse with mouthwash or water.