Welcome to the second installment of our ongoing blog series, “50 Tips to a Brighter Smile.” We’re committed to full-body health and wellness and tooth brushing is a great way to start the day and end the day on a health-minded note. A healthy, bright smile is a huge part of our personality, inspires self-confidence, and delights those around us. Still, far too few treat their teeth the way they should. Consider these shocking findings from National Smile Month, a UK-based nonprofit:
1 in 4 adults admit they don’t brush twice a day, including a third of men.
1 in 10 admit they regularly forget to brush their teeth.
42% of adults use just a toothbrush and toothpaste for their oral care.
Only 31% of adults use mouthwash.
Shockingly less than a quarter of adults use dental floss regularly.
1 in 3 people have NEVER flossed their teeth.
Brushing only once a day means your 33% more likely to develop tooth decay.
Tip #11: Pick the Right Brush
Choosing the best toothbrush can seem incredibly daunting, we get it. We’ll keep it simple by boldly stating that there’s really only 1 rule: whatever you do, make sure your toothbrush has soft bristles. Other than that, have fun and pick a brush that fits your mouth and your personality.
If you like the action of a power brush, go for it. If you prefer the silence of a manual, that’s fine, too. If you want to complicate matters, look for a toothbrush that has been tested and approved by the ADA, fits comfortably in both your hand and mouth, and make sure the brush is free of sharp edges and that the material is durable enough to last up to three months.
Tip #12: Brush at Least Twice a Day
There’s absolutely no way around this one. Plan on brushing your teeth at least twice a day. We recommend hitting the sink after breakfast and after you’ve finished your morning coffee. Your second trip to the sink should occur right before bed. Others may recommend doing so immediately upon waking and again after dinner.
The bottom line here: brush twice a day, whenever you’re most likely to make it a habit. We guarantee that gum disease, bad breath, and cavities are far more time-consuming and painful than committing to twice daily brushings.
Tip #13: Brush for Two Minutes
Sticking a brush in your mouth for 30 seconds just doesn’t cut it. Set the timer on your phone, find an old-school egg-timer, or play your favorite pop song. Whatever you do, brush for 2 full minutes. It’s especially important to foster healthy tooth brushing habits in children and adolescents. If tooth brushing time is synonymous for meltdown time, consider downloading a kid-friendly app like Brusheez.
Tip #14: Nice and Easy Does It
Don’t take your frustrations out on your teeth. You’re not cleaning your bathroom grout, you’re taking care of your mouth. Plaque doesn’t stick to your teeth like glue, a gentle brushing will remove any residual plaque and bacteria. Brushing too hard can damage the enamel and may cause your gums to recede.
Although your dentist will be able to tell you if you’re over brushing, Look out for these common over-brushing signs: receding gum, sensitive gums, worn enamel, and cavities on the roots of your teeth.
Tip #15: Massage Your Teeth
Instead of moving your brush in a harsh back and forth motion, think of brushing your teeth as a mini-tooth massage. Start from your gum line and go in a gentle, circular up-and-down motion. This not only does a better job removing plaque than a back-and-forth scrub, but it’s much more gentle on your gums.
Plan on spending about 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth to ensure even coverage. Routine, gentle brushing removes plaque deposits each day, but if there are areas that you consistently miss, the bacterial film known as plaque may build up and harden into tartar.
Tip #16: Brush Your Gums
Using a gentle hand, position your brush at a 45-degree angle to the gumline. This helps ensure that the bacteria that linger at the base of your teeth is gently and effectively removed. If your gums bleed after brushing, this may be a sign of gum disease. Schedule an appointment to see a dentist immediately. You should also rinse with an antimicrobial rinse to kill any germs that may be associated with gingivitis.
Tip #17: Use Fluoridated Toothpaste
Toothpastes that are rich in fluoride fight tooth decay and other periodontal diseases. Fluorine is a naturally-occurring element that can also help repair damage to tooth enamel. Fluoride prevents tooth decay by removing plaque, which is essentially a thin film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. Twice daily brushing removes plaque and fluoride also strengthen your teeth.
Tip #18: Clean Your Brush
It makes a lot of sense, right? But how many of us take the time to wash our brush? Make sure that you thoroughly rinse your brush after each use and store it in a clean, dust-free location that’s at least two feet from the toilet.
Avoid enclosed toothbrush holders that can promote bacterial growth, store your brush bristle side up, and don’t let your bristles touch those of another brush. If you’re taking things to the next level, give your brush a little dose of hand soap to help ensure it’s clean and hygienic. Just be sure to rinse it well!
Tip #19: Be Methodical About Brushing Your Teeth
Now that you’re brushing at least 2 times each day for 2 minutes at a stretch, it’s time to make sure that you’re brushing your teeth in the proper order. Start with the front of your teeth, move to the back surfaces and then move on to the chewing crevices, gums, and tongue. If your kids would benefit from a visual reminder (and if you would benefit from not sounding like a broken record), download a copy of this “How to Brush” infographic from the ADA. Or, check out this great video:
Tip #20: Give it a Minute
If you’re committed to brushing your teeth after every meal, you probably feel the urge to brush soon after the last bite has been swallowed. Surprisingly, it’s wiser to wait a minute or two. Rise with water and then allow your saliva to naturally rinse the acids off your teeth for approximately 15 to 20 minutes before hitting them with an abrasive toothpaste.
In fact, the Mayo Clinic recommends that if you’re planning on eating or drinking something that’s highly acidic, brush your teeth before chowing down. To further keep the effects of acid erosion to a minimum, try to limit between meal snacking
Looking for more great tips to a brighter smile? Download our free Ebook, “50 Tips to a Brighter Smile.”