Brushing Up Your Dental Hygiene

 

 

Image provided by: thinkgeek.com

Image provided by: thinkgeek.com

Hannah Auston
Associate Editor

Halloween is today, and that means there will be candy everywhere you look. All that sugar intake can have more negative effects than just on your waistline.

Better toothbrushing starts with the very thing you clean your teeth with. A soft toothbrush should always be used, and needs to be replaced when the bristles start to fray, or every three months, whichever comes first. Either a manual or electric toothbrush can be used, but I, myself, prefer an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes move in ways that manual toothbrushes cannot and research has shown that electric toothbrushes are more effective than a manual toothbrush.

When it comes to technique, the most common toothbrushing method is called the Bass method. In this method, the toothbrush is angled up at a 45-degree angle for upper teeth, and alternatively, angled down at a 45-degree angle for bottom teeth. The 45-degree angle is used to help get the bristles underneath the gums. Rather than scrubbing back and forth, use a light, circular motion when brushing.

As I’ve said before, achieving a pattern when brushing and flossing will ensure the most success, confirming that no surfaces are missed. I like to start with the top teeth, brushing the chewing surfaces (bottom), then move to the outside surfaces (cheek side), and finish off with the inside (tongue side) of the top teeth before repeating the same routine for the bottom.

Brushing for a minimum of two minutes is crucial. Most people think that thirty seconds or one minute is sufficient enough, but it takes a full two minutes to remove bacteria from the mouth. Some toothbrushes come with a built-in timer, but any kind of timer can be used, whether that’s a smartphone or just a classic kitchen timer.

After eating all that sugary goodness, you might be tempted to immediately brush your teeth, but don’t! You’ll be causing more harm than good. The sugar in the candy will eat away at your enamel. Your mouth needs at least twenty minutes to neutralize the acid attack happening in your mouth. If you brush too soon, not only will you be scrubbing away the bacteria, but also your enamel – this is why it is so important to wait! After twenty minutes have passed, you can brush normally, and you’ll be on your way to preventing tooth decay!

hauston@lc.edu