Story by Cheri Woodsmall
One of the very first things people notice about us is our smile. Most of us don’t give our teeth a whole lot of thought beyond whether they are white enough or if there’s something stuck in them. But your mouth houses a pretty complex and delicate ecosystem, and there’s a lot more going on in there then you probably realize. So let’s get busy taking care of business.
10 Ways You Might Be Brushing Your Teeth Wrong!
Brushing your teeth is the first step to stopping this whole nasty process. But it’s not as simple as sticking a brush in your mouth – keep in mind that there is a right and a wrong way to brush your teeth.
1. Your toothbrush bristles are too hard.
When you bought your toothbrush did it say “Soft” or “Extra Soft” on the package? No? Then it’s probably the wrong toothbrush. Hard bristles can weaken tooth enamel and can harm gum tissue. You also want the head of the brush to be small enough to easily reach all your teeth.
2. You’re holding your toothbrush too tightly.
If you’re holding your toothbrush with a tight grip, it’ll make you more likely to saw away in a manner that can wear away your enamel. Find a brush with a handle that is easy to hold with a light grip.
3. And at the wrong angle.
The American Dental Association recommends holding the surface of the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle to the front of your teeth. Then, brush in small strokes (think one-tooth-at-a-time) or in tiny circles. Don’t forget the insides, too, as well as the chewing surfaces.
4. You skip brushing before bed.
That’s seven or eight (or 11) uninterrupted hours for bacteria to do their dirty work, irritating your gums and causing tooth decay, and for plaque to harden into tartar.
5. You forget to brush your tongue, too.
Your tongue is actually one of the biggest sources of bad breath on account of all the microbes and food debris that gets stuck on it. Get that gunk off. According to the ADA, studies have shown that just brushing your tongue can reduce bad breath by as much as 70 percent.
6. You aren’t flossing.
There is a reason your dentist is always giving you a hard time about it. The food hiding between your teeth harbor bacteria that cause tooth decay. Oh, and PS – can you say Dragon Breath?
7. Your toothbrush is as old as your youngest child.
Bristles become worn over time, which makes them less effective at cleaning and potentially more damaging to the teeth. Plus, cracked or broken bristles are sweet havens for bacteria. Get a new brush every three or four months, and don’t forget to replace it after a bad cold or the flu.
8. You disinfect your toothbrush constantly.
This seems weird, right? This can actually just make your toothbrush age faster. The best way to clean your toothbrush is to rinse it thoroughly under the tap and store it upright to air-dry.
9. You keep your toothbrush in a covered holder.
It’s OK for protecting it while traveling, but routinely storing your brush in a closed, moist container is more conducive to microbial growth.
10. You use your spouse’s toothbrush.
Your body is not prepared to fight of someone else’s germy germs, however, so using their toothbrush increases your risk of infections.
Your Toothpaste Does Matter
Whitening, Tartar Control, Cavity Protection, Sensitive. The list goes on and on. So what toothpaste is right for you? Looking beyond the ADA seal of approval, it is really up to your personal needs as to which paste you choose.
Paste or gel – most toothpastes contain abrasive agents. These scratchy materials remove the bacteria, stains and food from teeth.
Mint, cinnamon, bubble gum – which is your flavor? With the abundance of choices, you can fill your medicine cabinet with enough tubes to have a flavor a day.
Fluoride – this one is a gimme. Bacteria loves to feed on the starches and sugars that stay on your teeth after eating. A toothpaste with fluoride helps protects your teeth from the acid that is released when this happens.
Swish, swish, ahhh. Nothing like the freshness of a clean mouth. But one mouthwash is not always like another. To do its duty, look for one that kills bacteria, reduces plaque, helps control tooth decay and prevents gingivitis. As with any oral concerns, your dentist is your best bet to offer advice on which one is best for you.