The first tip is the most common advice we hear, not only from your dentist, but your mum, uncle, teacher, friends and the granny next door. Everybody knows this one.
Brush your teeth twice a day.
BUT, who decided on this, and what if I told you that you could brush your teeth 10 times a day but still not be effective in your cleaning! (And may even make things worse for your teeth!)
Before we go into that, I think it’s really important to know WHY we should be brushing our teeth: ONE main reason – to REMOVE DENTAL PLAQUE.
There are other reasons for brushing, (e.g. remove staining, better breath, etc…) but REMOVING PLAQUE is why you would brush your teeth 90% of the time. If done well, the others will follow…
DENTAL PLAQUE CAUSES SOME BAD THINGS
Dental Plaque is that whitish yellow, soft, mushy stuff that accumulates on and between the teeth and gums (and other nooks and crannies) after you eat. It is the combination of food stuff, bad bacteria and chemicals (produced by the bacteria) that irritate the gums. If this is not removed, or is left for too long, the gums react to it, causing:
- gum disease (swollen gums, bleeding gums, receding gums, pain in the gums, ultimately causing loose teeth),
- the build up of calculus (tartar),
- bad breath, and
- to a certain extent, holes in the teeth (dental decay).
WHERE TO BRUSH
So, now that we know WHY it is important to remove dental plaque, we can now proceed to find out WHERE it always accumulates, because these areas will be the places that we will need to clean. These areas are:
- the junction where the teeth meet the gums,
- in between the teeth, and
- the biting surface (fissures) of the teeth
- the smooth surfaces of the teeth
Notice that the smooth surface of the teeth is last on the list. This is because the tongue, lips and cheeks rub on these areas continuously, mostly preventing the accumulation of plaque. So, brushing lots on this area is not doing much at all. Unfortunately, this is area we usually concentrate on!
Also remember that there are several surfaces to each tooth. Each surface needs to be addressed while cleaning:
- the biting/munching side
- the lip side
- the cheek side
- the tongue side (on the lower teeth)
- the palate side (on the top teeth)
Toothbrushing by itself, is effective on all of these surfaces except IN BETWEEN the teeth. This is because the bristles on the toothbrush are too thick to fit in between those areas. This is why flossing is important, but this will be discussed in TIP 2 : FLOSSING!
There are a few other topics within TOOTHBRUSHING which will be discussed over the next few posts including:
- Toothbrushing techniques,
- Electric vs Manual toothbrushes,
- When to brush your teeth,
- and much more…
Till then, keep up with the great work!