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Teeth Brushing: You Asked, We Answered!

woman brushing her teeth

Brushing your teeth can feel a lot like driving a car—you’ve been doing it so long now you’re on autopilot every time you saddle up to the sink. But proper brushing takes more attention than most people give it. With a little fine-tuning to your teeth brushing skills, you’ll reap the rewards of long-term good oral health.

  • How long should I brush my teeth?
    The American Dental Association recommends brushing for at least two minutes, twice a day. If at first this seems like an eternity, set a timer on your phone to keep yourself honest.
  • What kind of toothbrush do I need?
    Don’t stress yourself out when it comes to selecting a toothbrush. The biggest thing to look for is a brush with soft bristles that can bend, which helps remove bacteria and loosen plaque from your teeth and under the gumline. Be sure to choose a brush with a head size appropriate to your mouth size and make sure it reaches everywhere it needs to within your mouth. Finally, consider investing in an electric toothbrush. Studies show people who use an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay, and hold onto their teeth for longer. The electric versions also come with a built-in two-minute timer — no guesswork on timing!
  • What about toothpaste?
    A trip to the oral care aisle of the supermarket can feel a little mind blowing with the sheer number of options available. But there’s no need to waste money on products with extra whiteners and additives, which can irritate sensitive spots on your teeth. Keep it simple by using an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste, and your teeth will thank you for it.
  • What’s the best way to brush?
    Remember, the surface of your teeth isn’t like a pot that needs to be scrubbed vigorously to get clean. Plaque is soft and loose, so think about giving your teeth a “massage” when you brush. Now that you’ve got the pressure mastered, let’s talk technique. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums and ease your brush in quick strokes, using a light touch. Brush the chewing surfaces, the outer surfaces, and the insides of the teeth. And don’t forget about those hard-to-reach teeth in the back and any fillings or crowns, which are common traps for food.
  • Does it matter which direction I brush my teeth?
    Yes. We often see patients brush their teeth horizontally, but it’s best to start from the gum and move vertically up and down in small, circular motions. This helps remove plaque by getting into the crevices of the teeth.
  • Why do I need to brush my gums if I’m going to floss afterward?
    It’s easy to rush through brushing and neglect your gumline. But you need to get the bristles under the 2 or 3 millimeters of tissue where your tooth comes outside the gum, a little haven for bacteria. Here’s another reason that soft toothbrush is so important – its flexible bristles, angled at 45-degrees against the gumline, will help ensure you’re reaching the gumline.
  • When should I get rid of my toothbrush?
    Toss your toothbrush or replace the head on an electric brush after three months, excessive wear, or if you’ve been sick.
  • I’ve heard you shouldn’t brush right after eating. Why?
    It would seem wise to get all that gunk off your teeth right after eating a burger or plate of nachos, right? But the abrasives in toothpaste, combined with the acids left on your teeth from that meal you just ate, can erode the enamel of your teeth. Wait 15-20 minutes after eating before you brush, which allows the saliva in your mouth to work its magic on that acid. 

Check out this handy visual on teeth brushing from the ADA—and remember, your team at Loudoun Smile Center is always here to answer questions and be your trusted resource for information on your dental health.

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