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Brush Up on the Benefits of Brushing

Everyone knows they should brush their teeth, right? You would think so, but a study by the American Dental Association and Delta Dental shows differently. The ADA says you should brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. More than 30 percent of Americans go one day without brushing their teeth, and a smaller percentage go at least two days without brushing. A small portion of people are flossing their teeth each day. If you’re not brushing and flossing like you should, you may not realize why it is so important to do both regularly.

Why Should I Brush My Teeth?

Twice daily brushing removes plaque, which can cause decay and gum disease. It also makes your breath smell fresh and clean, and it helps keep your teeth stain-free. You need to keep your teeth in good condition so you can continue to eat your favorite foods and speak clearly, so people can understand you. Clean, healthy teeth and gums are also necessary if you want to keep your attractive, confident smile. Proper dental care helps to prevent tooth loss, but also heart disease, strokes, pneumonia and more, making good oral care essential to a health lifestyle.

Why Is Removing Dental Plaque Important?

Every day, plaque, a sticky film, forms on your teeth. If you don’t remove it by brushing and flossing, plaque can cause cavities. It can also harden into a hard, yellow substance called tartar. Tarter often forms near your gums, where it’s easy to miss while brushing. Tarter will cause gum inflammation or gingivitis. You may notice your gums are swollen, tender and they may bleed when you brush or floss. Gingivitis is reversible, but if left untreated, it can turn into a more advanced form of gum disease called periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is treatable, but not curable. If left untreated, you can lose your teeth from periodontal disease and the support structures that hold your teeth tightly in place erode.

Periodontal disease can also increase your risk of developing certain heart and lung diseases, like heart attacks and pneumonia. The disease also makes it harder for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar. Failing to take good care of your teeth can have a negative impact on your overall health.

Proper Teeth Brushing Techniques

These techniques will help you get the most out of your twice daily oral care routine. Effective teeth brushing starts with:

1. A Good Toothbrush

Use a soft bristle toothbrush. You may feel a hard bristle one would be more effective, but it’s not. Soft bristles bend and reach into places hard bristles cannot. You should replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or whenever the bristles appear worn or frayed. Always rinse your toothbrush well after use and store it where it can air dry. Putting a damp toothbrush away with a cap on it creates a breeding ground for bacteria, which you will introduce in your mouth the next time you use your toothbrush.

2. An ADA-approved Toothpaste with Fluoride

Wet your toothbrush and put a small amount of toothpaste on the brush (about the size of a pea). Use an American Dental Association approved toothpaste with fluoride. When you go to the store to buy toothpaste, you’ll find the selection overwhelming. It does not matter if you buy a gel or paste, or what flavor you buy, but it should be ADA approved.

3. Good Brushing Technique

Hold the toothbrush at an angle toward your gums and brush using a circular motion. Brush the outside surfaces, inside surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of your teeth, making sure not to miss any tooth. Dental professionals often split their mouth into four sections; the upper and lower teeth on the left and the upper and lower teeth on the right. Spending half a minute on each section ensures no one area, like the front teeth, get the most attention.

Brush for two minutes, setting a timer at first to make sure you’re brushing long enough. Spit out any extra toothpaste, but don’t vigorously rinse your mouth with water. Spitting and not rinsing helps keep the fluoride from the toothpaste on your teeth.

4. Flossing

Floss in the morning or evening. Most people floss before brushing their teeth so they can spit out the food debris the floss removes from between their teeth. Flossing is just as important for removing plaque as brushing because it cleans in between teeth, where most toothbrushes cannot reach. Plaque trapped between teeth can cause cavities and gum disease, but more people brush their teeth than floss them. Less than half of all Americans floss daily, and one in five don’t bother to floss at all.

5. Mouthwash

Use a mouthrinse if desired. Some just contain breath freshening ingredients which people like. These cosmetic mouthwashes temporarily make your mouth smell minty fresh, but they don’t treat the cause of the problem. Your dentist may recommend a specific type, such as a fluoride rinse, based on your unique needs. There are germ killing mouthwashes that work well at reducing plaque and treating gingivitis according to the American Academy of Dentistry. Whatever mouthwash you choose, look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance which indicates there is proof it will work.

These steps will help you see better outcomes at your semi-annual dental exams and teeth cleanings. If you’re missing any spots in your mouth, the dental hygienist will point them out during your cleaning and suggest a way to make sure you reach all areas of your teeth.

Keep Dental Disease at Bay with Proper Tooth Brushing

If you always brush correctly, you’ll enjoy better dental health. You’ll have fewer cavities and reduce your chance of developing gum disease. You’ll also save money as you’ll need fewer costly dental procedures. If you take care of your teeth and have regular dental exams, you could have them looking good for the rest of your natural life. Dentures are not an inevitable part of aging if you take the time to care for your teeth each day.

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