Bad brushing habits that can harm your teeth

The purpose of brushing is to decrease the bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease and bad breath. But instead of helping you, is brushing teeth turning out to be a painful chore?

ST. ALBANS, UK August 13, 2012 - There’s more to life than pearly white teeth, but I’s a good place to start. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day.  The purpose of brushing is to decrease the bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease and bad breath. But instead of helping you, is brushing teeth turning out to be a painful chore?

It is vital to follow the right technique. If you wish to have more than just bright white teeth you need to concentrate on the following techniques:

Clean the outer surface of the teeth
Clean the inner surfaces of the teeth
Clean the chewing surfaces, which are used heavily
Use small circular motions
Brush the gums as well as the teeth
Clean your tongue for fresh breath
Use floss to clean in between the teeth

By following this routine you can achieve good oral health. If you fail to brush regularly, you are at risk of developing dental problems.

Most people complain of dental problems even after brushing their teeth on a regular basis. This is because the brushing methods that they follow are incorrect.

Here are some helpful tips for the right techniques:

Most people brush in a hurry. If this is you then it is not surprising that brushing has become painful. You need to brush for at least 2-3 minutes. It takes that much time to concentrate on all the surfaces and the gums to clean them. Place a timer in the brushing area. Set the alarm for not less than 3 minutes, it will help you keep a track of the time. Electric brushes have a pre-set timer making it even easier.

Place a mirror in your brushing area. People usually fail to brush the area near the gum line. By not cleaning that surface bacteria, plaque and tartar build up easily. By looking in the mirror while brushing you can come across dental problems yourself. If you notice anything do not fail to mention them at your next dental visit.

The wrong tooth brush has hard bristles. Choose a brush with soft or medium bristles which are arranged in different directions. Using an electric tooth brush is a good option as it not only has a timer but also concentrates on the different areas. The Cochrane report has shown that electric toothbrushes are more effective than manual brushing.

Brushing should be followed by flossing. Failing to do so can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing helps to clean the area between teeth. If left unclean, bacteria thrive in between the space leading to dental disease. Make flossing a part of your daily dental care routine if you wish to keep the growth of bacteria in your mouth at bay.

You should look into the ingredients of the toothpaste before you purchase it. High content of baking soda helps in removing stains, but too much of it can lead to deterioration of the enamel. The whitening toothpastes cause no harm to the teeth. Toothpaste should have between 1300-1500ppm, check the label.

The right brushing technique is also important. Do not apply too much pressure on the surface as it can harm the enamel. The enamel covers the surface of the teeth and is made up of glass like material. When too much pressure is applied, it can weaken the teeth. Hold the brush in such a manner that the bristles are at a degree of 45 degrees from the surface of the teeth and gums. Concentrate on a few teeth at a time. The most important tip is to brush in circular motions. Never forget to brush the gum line area.

Aggressive brushing can be very harmful to the teeth and the gums. When you brush too hard the chances of enamel and gum loss goes up. Continuous pressure can damage teeth and lead to notches.

Most people rinse the toothpaste from their teeth after brushing. However leaving the toothpaste coating on your teeth can have a beneficial effect on your oral health. The fluoride has a chance to penetrate the tooth surface.

Mouthwash should be used at a different time than brushing. There is only so much fluoride that the teeth and gums can take up in one go. Make use of alcohol free mouth wash. After using the mouthwash you should NOT rinse.

It is important to keep your toothbrush clean. As it cleans the bacteria from the surface of the teeth those bacteria then get stuck on to the bristles. Once in a while you should clean the bristles with hot water. Always allow the bristles to dry completely. It is also important to change the brush when the bristles get damaged or every three months.

By concentrating on the corrective measures you can maintain your dental hygiene and lower your dentist bills!


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Dr. Priya Patel

I’m Dr. Priya Patel with over 10 years of experience in the dental industry and dental principal of Village Dental Practice in Stevenage, UK.  I qualified from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Dental Hospital in 2002 from London. I involve patients in their own treatment and enjoy seeing the improvement in a patient as their treatment progresses.

I also teach dentists at the Royal College of Surgeons in London who are completing postgraduate studies as well as overseas dentists who are studying for their equivalency exams.

You can follow Dr. Patel on Twitter at @dentistmum

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