Brushing is one of the best ways to make your teeth look--and feel--great. However, the act of brushing isn't enough. You need to make sure that you are doing it correctly, and frequently. Many people think that more is better, but you should actually only brush twice a day. Increasing the frequency can wear away the protective enamel on your teeth and lead to sensitivity and pain.
- Spend at least two minutes brushing (each time). Try dividing your mouth into four sections (two up top, two on bottom) and spend 30 seconds on each section.
- Don't brush too hard. Too much pressure can cause damage to your enamel, which is the protective covering on your teeth. Instead, brush in firm, but gentle, motions.
- Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle and brush in short strokes, making an up and down motion on each tooth.
- You should also brush the gum towards your chewing surface to stimulate your blood flow and maintain your antibacterial protection.
Flossing is critical for maintaining good oral health, yet it is a step that many people skip. Make sure to floss daily. You will be able to see improvement in your smile--your teeth will have less buildup, and your mouth will also feel clean. Flossing can also help prevent cavities and gum disease.
- Floss at least once daily to remove plaque from between your teeth. Dentists are split on whether it is best to floss before or after brushing. But they all agree that adding flossing to your daily routine is essential for having great teeth.
- Use about 18 inches of floss. Wrap the ends around both hands to give yourself a steady grip. Then move the middle part of the strand up and down between two teeth. Make a "C" shape with the floss. This will help you get the curved parts of your teeth. Repeat throughout your entire mouth.
- Don't floss too vigorously. Being aggressive near your gums can be painful and cause damage.
There are a wide variety of toothbrushes, pastes, flosses, and rinses available in drugstores and supermarkets. It's good to have a basic idea of what you need when you are choosing your dental care products. For example, most adults should use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. It has been shown to prevent cavities.
- Choose a toothpaste that you like. If you prefer a gel, that's fine. If you like the wintergreen flavor, that's fine, too. Dentists report that most brands function in essentially the same way. Picking one that you like best will encourage you to use it more often. The same advice goes for floss and mouthwash.
- Consider using an electric (or battery-powered) toothbrush. The advantage to these tools is that you basically just need to guide the brush. This will provide a more consistent stroke.
- Be aware that some mouthwashes simply freshen the breath. To make sure the one you are buying will be effective, look for one that contains fluoride and has the ADA seal of approval. Chlorhexidine is the best anti-bacterial substance that works to fight aggressive bacterial species.
Once you know the basics of proper oral hygiene, it is a good idea to make it a consistent part of your daily routine. Try getting in the habit of brushing your teeth at the same time each day. This will make it feel more natural, and you will be less likely to forget.
- Try buying two tubes of toothpaste at a time (one whitening, one flouride) and always having a back-up toothpaste. This way, you'll always be prepared to care for your teeth, even if the unexpected happens.