If you’re brushing your teeth twice a day, you’re meeting the minimum recommendation set forth by the American Dental Association. But if you’re not doing it right, you’re wasting your time and endangering your oral health.
Our team at OK Tooth in Midtown Manhattan sees the problems that occur when New Yorkers skip one or both daily brushings, don’t floss, or perform either task incorrectly.
That’s right — there’s a right and wrong way to brush and floss your teeth, and we’re here to set you straight.
What happens to your teeth when you brush or floss incorrectly?
Almost everyone skips a daily brushing now and then, but if you regularly go to bed without cleaning your teeth, you’re in for some major oral health issues.
When you allow bacteria and food particles to sit on and between your teeth, they form plaque, a sticky substance that covers the surface and creeps into the crevices. The bacteria-filled film begins to erode the enamel, eating small holes or cavities that require fillings.
Plaque also attacks your gum tissues and triggers the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis, plaguing you with red, puffy gums. Gingivitis can quickly progress to its advanced form, periodontitis, leading to bleeding, infection, pain, and loose gums and teeth.
Poor oral health can also lead to problems with your overall health. Studies show a direct correlation between gum disease, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.
Common brushing and flossing mistakes
In addition to brushing twice and flossing once daily, do your best to avoid these common bad habits.
Brushing too hard
Don’t scrub your teeth; massage them.
Using the wrong toothbrush
We know the options are overwhelming, but with a little know-how, you can narrow down your choices. Look for a toothbrush that can reach the back areas of your mouth. If you have a small mouth, don’t buy a toothbrush with a large head.
Manual and electric toothbrushes are both acceptable. The one factor that applies to all toothbrushes is that they should have soft bristles.
You keep your toothbrush too long
Toss your toothbrush every three months and get a new one — this is not negotiable. When the bristles fray, the toothbrush is no longer useful. And definitely don’t share your toothbrush.
You don’t brush long enough
We recommend spending two minutes brushing your teeth twice a day. Most modern electric brushes come with a built-in alert system to keep you on track, but you can also set an alarm on your watch or phone or listen to a two-minute song while you’re brushing.
You brush side-to-side
If you’re scrubbing your teeth back and forth, you could cause damage to your teeth and gums. Instead, use up-and-down and tiny circular motions.
You forget your tongue
Your tongue hangs onto bacteria and plaque, too, so remember to brush your tongue and get rid of the build-up. You can also brush the inside of your cheeks and the roof of your mouth.
You’re not flossing
Even if you don’t see it, food particles and plaque work their way between your teeth and set up shop. Flossing is the only way to remove it and prevent inter-tooth cavities.
The right way to brush and floss
At OK Tooth, we love teaching our patients how to brush their teeth properly. The right technique can mean the difference between a worthwhile session and a waste of time. For a step-by-step tutorial complete with helpful graphics, click here.
To learn more about brushing, flossing, and general dental care, contact us online or by phone to schedule a visit. We’d love to talk teeth with you!