February 3, 2010

How to Brush Your Teeth

Good oral health starts with knowing how to brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth the right way is the best way to ward off plaque, which is the most common cause of tooth decay.

Plaque is a film made up of germs called bacteria. It forms on teeth and gums after eating. This film contains acids that break down the hard outer layer of a tooth, which is called the enamel. When this gets weak, tooth decay is the result.

Over time, plaque can get hard. This makes it much harder to remove and can cause gum recession, gum disease, or even tooth loss. Daily removal of plaque, by brushing your teeth and through other good oral health habits, helps to protect your teeth and gums from decay and disease.

How to Brush Your Teeth

  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles that is the right size for easy access to all parts of your mouth (your dentist can help you select the right size for your needs)
  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gums
  • Use short strokes that are the width of a tooth, and move the brush back and forth gently
  • Be sure to cover the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth
  • A gentle up and down stroke can be used to brush the inside surface of the front teeth
  • Brushing your tongue helps to remove more bacteria and make your breath fresh

To maintain good dental hygiene, change your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if the brush bristles are frayed.  Oral bacteria can linger between teeth and in hard to reach areas. An old toothbrush is not a good tool for brushing teeth as well as they can be.

Fighting Plaque

When you brush the right way, you help keep plaque away. You also help keep plaque away when you:

  • Use toothpaste and a mouth rinse that has fluoride two times a day
  • Floss daily
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks
  • Get regular dental exams and cleanings

Your teeth are meant to last for your whole life. Be sure to brush your teeth the right way to keep them in good health.

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