Brushing your teeth is an essential part of your daily oral hygiene routine. By brushing and flossing twice per day for at least two minutes, you can prevent gum disease, remove plaque, and prevent tooth decay.
Why Two Minutes?
It is important to brush for the full two minutes so that you can be sure you have removed any food and plaque that has built up on your teeth since your last brushing. The bacteria in plaque feed on the sugars found in our food, so removing both food and plaque is imperative for preventing tartar buildup. Tartar causes permanent tooth decay and gum disease (such as gingivitis and periodontitis) and is difficult to remove on your own. Spending two minutes brushing is a little bit of work with a huge payoff.
What Does Brushing Do?
Strengthens Tooth Enamel
Brushing is important for many reasons. Brushing strengthens your tooth enamel, making it less likely that you will suffer from tooth decay. Your dentist can repair mild tooth decay (better known as cavities), but if cavities are allowed to progress they can lead to a list of problems including swelling or pus around your tooth, damaged or broken teeth, chewing problems, and pain. In rare cases, severe cavities can evolve into a tooth abscess, which can cause a severe or even life-threatening infection.
You may have heard of ionic toothbrushes. These brushes are part of a new generation of toothbrushes, and studies have shown that they can remove more plaque and reduce the amount of bleeding associated with gingivitis. Ionic toothbrushes use negatively charged ions to repel plaque from areas of the tooth that the brush can’t reach. This, in turn, allows you to remove more plaque than with an ordinary toothbrush. Negatively charged ions move from the brush’s shaft, through your hand, and to your teeth. There they push the plaque off your teeth so it can be caught in your toothbrush bristles and removed.
How Should I Brush My Teeth?
Proper brushing technique is key to keeping your teeth and gums happy and healthy. To ensure your teeth are getting cleaned thoroughly make sure you:
- Brush at least twice per day. You should also brush after you eat anything sweet or sticky, and avoid letting food sit on or between your teeth.
- Don’t rush. Make sure you are spending the minimum two minutes. If you find yourself rushing find a song that is at least two minutes long and play it while you brush your teeth, so you know you are spending the time you need to.
- Use the proper technique. Hold your brush at a slight angle (about 45 degrees) and aim the bristles towards the section where your gums meet your teeth. Gently brush your teeth and gums with short back-and-forth strokes and be sure to brush the inside, outside, and chewing surfaces of your teeth as well as your tongue.
- Keep your toothbrush clean. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after you use it, and store it in an upright position so it can air dry. You should also make sure it is kept separately from other toothbrushes to avoid cross-contamination. When you travel, you likely have a container or cover that you use to keep your toothbrush clean. Do not store your brush in here after you use it, but instead let it air dry. This will prevent the growth of bacteria, mould, and yeast.
- Replace your toothbrush regularly. On average your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head will need to be replaced every three to four months. However, if your toothbrushes bristles become frayed or irregular before that time, you should replace your brush. Worn out toothbrushes are less effective, and may not allow you to remove all the plaque and food from your teeth.
Brushing your teeth is an important part of your at-home oral hygiene routine. Spending two minutes giving your teeth a thorough once-over is a small but effective way to invest in your oral health.