Brushing our teeth is something that we are taught from a very young age. It is a customary daily routine for most people that is an important part of taking care of our teeth, our gums, and overall health. Children whine about completing the task and adults usually go through the motions as they consider all the days itinerary that lay in front of them. There are some of you who are gems, adults and children, who enjoy the routine or who have the appropriate understanding of why we actually do this.
Why do we brush?
There are a couple of reasons why we brush our teeth:
- We brush our teeth 2-3 times daily (yes 2-3 times, not once!) to mechanically remove bacterial colonies, food, and sugar from our teeth. The bacteria that collect on our teeth reproduce every 12- 24 hours. Do you really want to have generations of bacteria just collecting in your mouth?
- We also brush to remove stains and tartar from our teeth
- Lastly, brushing prevents food and bacteria from sticking to the teeth and around the gum line which greatly helps to prevent gum disease
How do we brush?
Most dental professionals agree that something called the “Bass method” of brushing is a technique that does a great job in removing bacterial plaque and food particles.
Step 1: Place the bristles of your toothbrush at a 45” angle where the tooth and the gums meet, or at the gum line.
Step 2: GENTLY, brush side to side and in small circles at least 10 times in one section. Roll the brush away from the gum line to flick all the loosened bacteria and food away from the gums. Overlap each of your sections as you move throughout the mouth so that no tooth is forgotten.
Step 3: Make sure to brush the inside surfaces of all teeth especially the inside of the lower front teeth. Also make sure to brush the biting surfaces of the back teeth.
The whole mouth should take approximately two minutes.
If using an electric brush, the brush will revolve for you, but you need to place it in the right area.
Do not brush your tongue please! Toothbrushes are for teeth. Tongue cleaners or scrapers are for tongues. They should be used at night for food removal from the tongue surface as well as a reduced gag feeling. They can be found at the pharmacy in all sizes to accommodate children and adults. Parents should monitor children’s use until they are confident children can effectively complete this task independently.
What is the best toothbrush?
There are a dizzying amount of brushes available to consumers - manual, battery operated and rechargeable. These days, many electric brushes have apps that can link to your smartphone and will tell you where and how long you need to brush!
The verdict: Both manual brushes and electric brushes are good. The key is they have to be used and they have to be used correctly! If your goal is to have healthy teeth, you can achieve that with any brush and dedication to your oral health. People who have arthritis and disabilities may benefit from an electric brush or battery operated brush because the handles of the brush have a larger diameter and are easily gripped during brushing.
Hundreds of years ago toothbrushes were made of horse hair and hogs hair – I think we can all say that our need to brush certainly seems more pleasant in this century, wouldn’t you agree?