If you are like my patients and you follow carefully your dentist’ advice, you floss daily and use your toothbrush twice daily. But do you really know what you are doing?
Proper brushing should last two minutes. Unfortunately, most adults do not brush anywhere that long. To fully have an understanding for the time involved, try using a stopwatch. Proper brushing involves short, gentle circular strokes; extra attention is necessary for the gumline and the back teeth which are usually hard to reach, as well as the areas around crowns, fillings and other restoration, which tend to collect more plaque that others. A good brushing sequence should go as follows:
1-The outer surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth
2-The inner surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth
3-The chewing surfaces
4-Be sure to brush your tongue, too, since bacteria can leave in the crevasses and cause bad breath
A soft-bristled brush is best for removing plaque and debris from your teeth and stimulating the gum. The smaller the head, the better, since they can better reach those hard to reach areas of the mouth, including the back teeth. A good alternative for many is the powered toothbrush; especially for those who have limited manual dexterity or a hard time brushing for the recommended 2 minutes.
It is, as well, important that you use a toothpaste that includes anti caries, anti gingivitis and anti tartar ingredients and when needed stained and sensitivity prevention. It is also recommended that your replace your toothbrush when it begins to show wear (on average every three months or whichever comes first).
Your toothbrush is home to 10 million microbes, including bacteria such as influenza virus, herpes, strep, staph, and the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities. Due to the variety of germs, they can harbor more pathogens than the toilet seat! “Your toothbrush is the perfect breeding ground for this,” says Dr. Tom Glass, a specialist in oral diseases at the University of Oklahoma, “There is food, water, and the brush itself even provides a gateway to your body.”
To keep your toothbrush safe, you should:
- Not share it with others.
- Rinse it thoroughly after use.
- Dry it after each use.
- Never store it in an enclosed area.
- Replace it after you recover from a cold or flu.
According to microbiologist, “if your toothbrush is in your bathroom, you are probably brushing your teeth with what’s in your bowl”. When you flush without close the lid, micro particles of contaminated water become airborne and are deposited on the surfaces of the bathroom, contaminating the things we use every day. That is why we recommend that you keep your toothbrush at least 6 feet from the toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from a flush.
Brushing your teeth removes bacteria, food debris, but also the blood and saliva that could be infected by viruses. Although you do not need to rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth and spitting out the toothpaste, to allow the fluoride additional time on your teeth, if you do not rinse your toothbrush bristle properly, you are placing these contaminants back into your mouth next time you use the brush. Many families also keep all their toothbrushes in the same glass on the edge of the sink, which increases the risk of cross contamination.