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Brushing Up on the Benefits of Brushing

There are many reasons people don’t brush their teeth twice a day like the American Dental Association recommends. Sometimes, young adults have good, strong white teeth and don’t see the need to brush like they should. They don’t understand the risks of not brushing regularly. Maybe they never learned, or they forgot. Unfortunately, their poor habits often catch up with them later in life. A refresher lesson in toothbrushing and the importance of a strong, regular dental care routine can help you enjoy long-term good dental health.

Why Should I Invest My Time in a Good Dental Care Routine?

Would you like to have morning breath all day? A morning routine, which if you floss at night, can take just two minutes. Surely, taking two minutes is better than wondering if your breath smells bad when you run into your boss on the way into work. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day also removes plaque. Plaque, if it’s allowed to build up, will lead to cavities and gum disease.

According to a recent study, a little over 30 percent of Americans only bother brushing once a day. A startling percent go several days without brushing and some percentage of people never brush at all. If you never brush your teeth, you will most likely lose them to advanced gum disease. Taking care of your teeth is much easier than replacing them, and far less expensive.

How Does Plaque Harm Teeth and Gums?

Plaque is a combination of bacteria and food debris which builds up on your teeth. It’s always present in your mouth, but if you let it build up, it can become harmful. If you don’t brush and floss every day and get professional dental cleanings twice a year, plaque will accumulate and cause bad breath and tooth decay. Plaque will also harden and turn into tartar, a hard, yellowish substance that you can’t remove yourself.

Plaque and tartar will likely cause gingivitis, the mildest stage of gum disease. Fortunately, gingivitis is reversible, so see your dentist if you notice your gums bleed when you brush your teeth. This isn’t normal. Untreated gingivitis can progress into a more advanced form of gum disease known as periodontal disease. Your gums may recede and you may notice pockets of pus between your teeth if you develop periodontal disease. If left unchecked, the disease will destroy the bone holding your teeth in place, causing them to become loose and wobble in your mouth. Periodontal disease is the main reason adults lose their teeth. Periodontal disease is an infection which can affect your overall health as well.

Preventing Dental Problems with Good Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene involves brushing your teeth twice a day, morning and night, for two minutes, and flossing at least once daily. Good habits to get into include:

1. Holding Your Toothbrush Correctly
Hold your toothbrush at an angle, pointing toward the gumline. Brush using a gentle circular motion, hitting all of your teeth front and back. Use a back-and-forth motion to brush the tops of your teeth. Make sure you brush every tooth. Also, brush your tongue gently to remove bacteria and help keep your breath fresh. You can use a tongue scraper if you prefer.

2. Use a Soft Toothbrush
Dental professionals suggest toothbrushes with soft, rounded bristles cut at different lengths. This type of toothbrush will clean best as they will fit into nooks and crannies. Hard bristled brushes can damage your tooth enamel and gums. Buy a new toothbrush every three or four months, or whenever the bristles appear frayed. Keep your toothbrush in a cup when you’re finished brushing, so it stands upright and dries. Don’t cover it or your toothbrush becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. You want your toothbrush to clean your teeth, not introduce more bacteria into it. Also, never share a toothbrush with anyone, even once.

You can use an electric toothbrush if you prefer, but it’s not necessary. If you have arthritis or another problem which affects your manual dexterity, an electric toothbrush may make doing a thorough job with your oral care easier.

3. Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Use toothpaste with fluoride, a natural mineral, to help prevent cavities. It will strengthen your tooth enamel, but only if you don’t rinse after brushing. Just spit out any excess toothpaste. Some people worry about getting too much fluoride since their municipal water is fluoridated. The amount of the mineral in drinking water is minimally effective for preventing cavities since it’s better when fluoride is applied directly to your teeth. Ask your dentist if you have any concerns about getting too much fluoride.

4. Floss at Least Once a Day
Flossing removes food debris and plaque from between teeth. Failing to remove plaque and food debris can lead to bad breath, decay and gum disease. According to the ADA, most people who don’t floss daily say it’s too time consuming. Using string floss correctly can take time, but there are other options, like a Waterpik, that can make cleaning between your teeth faster and easier.

5. Mouthwash
If you have excellent dental health, using a mouthwash is not absolutely necessary. Many people just like the minty, fresh feeling they get after rinsing with a mouthwash. If you need extra fluoride or need help to control plaque, your dentist may recommend a specific type of mouthwash. He or she will suggest you look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, as it’s proven effective and safe to use.

What’s Really Important About Toothbrushing

It’s easy to get caught up in the little details about toothbrushing. Should you get a manual or electric toothbrush? Should you brush before or after breakfast? Floss at night or in the morning? What’s most important is to brush all your teeth twice a day for two minutes and floss, using a water flosser, string floss or a threaded flosser, once a day. The details are important; but the most important component of a robust oral health routine is that it’s completed every day.

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