We’ve all been brushing our teeth since we were knee-high, and before that our parents (hopefully) did it for us. So we should really know what we’re doing, right? Well, you’d be surprised. Many of us have picked up bad habits over the years, and some of us have even been doing it wrong from the outset.
So, let’s taker a look at how you should be brushing your teeth to get the sparkliest set of pearly whites possible, even with a brace – and how to banish bad habits.
1. Choose the right brush
Finding the right toothbrush for you all depends on the size of your mouth. Make sure that the one you pick is sleek enough to reach your back teeth and any wisdom teeth you might have. Think about the bristles – too hard and you risk damaging your gums, and too soft and the brush won’t have a beneficial effect, leaving bacteria and plaque on your teeth.
Many dentists recommend using an electric toothbrush, especially those with a rotating or oscillating head – studies show that they are more effective at removing plaque than a manual toothbrush.
Change your brush regularly, too. Once the bristles are getting worn down, it’s time to replace it – once every four months is about right.
2. It’s all about direction
Young children tend to brush from side to side, but this is a bad habit to get into, as you’re brushing food particles in between your teeth and potentially damaging your gums. The best way to do it is to brush up and down – and not too hard or you’ll make your gums bleed.
3. Twice a day
Year ago, people were advised to brush their teeth once a day, but now – thanks to all the refined sugar that we eat – dentists recommend brushing twice daily. It’s important to brush for long enough, too – two minutes is about right. Don’t brush your teeth after drinking fizzy drinks though. The brushing action, combined with the sugar and acid from the carbonated drink, can harm the tooth enamel. Rinse your mouth with water instead, then wait 30 minutes to an hour before brushing your teeth.
At night, it’s best to spit out the toothpaste, but don’t rinse – the extra fluoride will help protect your teeth.
4. Do the floss
To floss or not to floss? Dentists recommend using an interdental brush from the age of 12 to clean between each tooth once a day. You can buy these from a supermarket or chemist. Or else try flossing before brushing if this is not possible. Work methodically around the whole of your mouth so you don’t miss any teeth.
5. Brushing with braces
Sorry, having braces is not an excuse not to brush! You just have to modify your technique a bit. Pick rather than scrub with your toothbrush, as it’s more effective at removing food particle and other gunk that builds up. Start off just using water, before following with toothpaste so you can see what you’re doing. A softer brush is better than a firm one here, as the bristles are more flexible around the wires.