According to Delta Dental, the average American spends 1,000 hours brushing their teeth over the course of their lifetime. Unfortunately, however, the American Dental Association asserts that most people use inferior quality brushes to take care of their teeth. Toothbrushes were invented in 1498 in China. Prior to that date, ancient civilizations were said to rely on “chew sticks,” small twigs with frayed edges, which they rubbed against dental surfaces, to remove plaque and debris. The modern nylon bristle toothbrush widely used today emerged in 1938. In between, people used boar bristles, which were the coarse hairs found on the back of hog’s necks.
Variety is the Spice of the ToothBrush
Today, the sheer volume of available toothbrushes is overwhelming: angled heads, raised bristles, oscillating tufts. With so many choices, which toothbrush should you choose? The bottom line is that you should select whichever brush is most comfortable for you, since that will encourage you to use it regularly. And when it comes to dental hygiene, consistency is key. More important than the type of brush or bristle is the way you hold the brush and how long you apply it.
How to Brush Your Teeth
Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Gently move the brush back and forth, in short (tooth-wide) strokes. Next, brush outer surfaces, then inner surfaces, and chewing surfaces of the teeth. Then, clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth. To do this, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
Time to Brush Your Teeth
Although most people brush for less than a minute, dental health professionals agree that you should brush for at least two or three minutes at least twice a day. Brushing less than that doesn’t give you enough time to reach every area of the mouth and remove cavity-causing bacteria.
Also important, replace your toothbrush every three to four months. If you hold onto it too long, the damaged bristles won’t sufficiently scrub dental enamel.
Easy Does It
Don’t vigorously scrub your gums. Many people brush their teeth too hard, damaging gums. The best defense against this is to purchase a soft bristle toothbrush. Although you may think that hard brushing is better to defeat bacteria, that is a myth. Gentle brushing (along with a Waterpik or floss) is all you need.
All in Good Time
Some people feel compelled to run to the restroom to brush their teeth after every meal. This is actually counterintuitive. You should wait at least 60 minutes after eating to brush your teeth. This is especially important if you imbibed acidic food such as lemons or vinegar. If you can’t wait, chew sugar-free gum or drink water while you’re waiting to brush.
Make sure you keep your toothbrush dry between uses. The best bet is to store it upright, where air can get to it. Avoid putting it into a container, where mold could grow.
Although experts disagree about whether electric or manual toothbrushes are best, the right choice is whichever toothbrush you will faithfully use. As with every dental hygiene habit, consistency and regular dental checkups are key components to optimal dental health.
About Dr. Fred Wong of Blue Ocean Dentistry in Glendora, California
Dr. Fred Wong and the staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry use the latest available dental treatments, equipment, and materials – all of which make a marked difference in our patients’ experiences. We are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal dental health. We creatively combine dental science and artistry — which can literally redesign your smile. Since even a subtle change in your smile will help you to project self-confidence and high self-esteem, we love helping you feel good about yourself. We deliver the finest dental care at the most reasonable cost and accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit. For more about the dental treatment plans we offer or to schedule an appointment, call today (626) 852-6999.