Like a car engine, your mouth needs routine maintenance to keep it in top working condition. If you neglect it, things start to go wrong and you’ll wind up in a dentist’s chair begging the doctor to fix it. Quickly.
Luckily, all you need to do to stay out of the dentist’s chair is a little brushing and a little flossing. Just ten minutes out of your day, tops. It’s that easy. All you need are the right tools.
How old is your toothbrush? If it dates back to the last century, run, don’t walk, to the nearest store and buy a new one. It’s a good idea to replace your toothbrush every three to four months. However, if the bristles look worn, replace it right away so you don’t hurt your gums.
All toothbrushes are not created equal. Select one with soft, nylon bristles that have round ends for kinder, gentler polishing. Also look for a brush with a small head so you can easily reach every nook and cranny in your mouth. When buying toothpaste, make sure you pick a winner. Look for one with the Canadian Dental Association Seal of Acceptance – your guarantee that it’s been proven safe and effective. You may want to keep an extra brush at work (or in your locker if you’re a student).
How long do you spend brushing? Most of us spend less than a minute. To keep your pearly whites both pearly and white, brush them for three or four minutes twice a day using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. That way, you can be sure you won’t miss any spots the next time you brush.
Tips for Effective Maintenance
There are many different ways to properly brush your teeth. Since tooth position and gum condition varies from person to person, you should check with your dentist to determine what’s best for your mouth. Here are some effective tips to get the job done.
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and gently brush both teeth and gums in a circular motion. This technique removes harmful bacteria at the gumline where they mostly hide.
- Gently brush the outer and inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of all your teeth.
- Use the tip of your brush to clean the inside surfaces of your front teeth with a gentle up-and-down stroke.
- Be sure not to brush your teeth too hard or use a hard-bristled toothbrush. This can cause your gums to recede and wear down the tooth structure. These conditions can lead to tooth sensitivity.
- Last but not least, remember to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
Flossing…A Little Bit of String Goes a Long Way
You can floss before or after brushing, but it is every bit as important as brushing. Flossing gets those areas between the teeth that no toothbrush or rinse can access. Without it, the risk of bad breath and gum disease increases.
Many of us have floss in our cupboards but never use it. By flossing every day, you can keep that nasty plaque from hardening. To help build the habit, try to brush at the same time every day. According to a Johnson & Johnson consumer survey of daily flossers, most find it’s easiest to floss right before bed. That way your teeth are nice and clean for the 6-8 hours you’re asleep!
It’s up to you what kind of floss you use – waxed or unwaxed, flavoured or unflavoured, even high-tech flosses to thoroughly clean those extra-tight spaces. To make the job even easier, you can buy a floss holder that holds floss tight for you.
Prefer to take care of business the old-fashioned way? Here’s a sure-fire way to handle your floss and thoroughly clean your teeth:
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the rest around the same finger on the other hand. This finger will take up the floss as it is used. Only keep 3-4 inches of floss between your fingers at any one time.
- Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth, using a gentle rubbing motion. You will need to place one of your fingers with floss on it in your mouth, next to the tooth you are flossing.
- When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a “c” shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth. If you notice some bleeding, don’t worry. You likely have gingivitis from not flossing regularly. The good news is this will not happen if you floss regularly and properly.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently run it along the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions.
- Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Be sure not to forget the back side of your last tooth.
That’s it! You’re done. Stick to this routine, and, at your next six-month check-up, your dentist will tell you to smile on.