Do You Really Brush Twice Daily?
Here’s an embarrassing stat: Only one in 10 people brush in a way that actually prevents tooth decay, according to a recent study.
So what do the other 90 percent of us need to do? Spend the time to brush, and brush right. Lots of people rush, don’t brush enough, or their form is off. (And these 12 Foods Your Dentist Won’t Eat probably isn’t helping.)
Here’s our breakdown of how to brush for pearly whites—the right way.
Take Two Minutes
“It doesn’t sound like long, but if you put a timer on for two minutes, you’ll probably be thinking you can’t brush any more by the end of it.” Divide your mouth in three parts: front, left, and right. Spend 40 seconds brushing each section, Young advises. And don’t forget the backs of your teeth.
Fix Your Form
Wrong: roughly sawing just your teeth. Truth is, there are more bacteria on your gums than on your teeth. Bacteria can build up and lead to infection, or worse, gum disease. And you don’t need excessive pressure to get rid of them. In fact, brush too hard and you’ll scrape away tooth enamel—the thin cover protecting teeth from adverse temps and chewing—at your gum line, where it’s thinnest. Once enamel’s gone, it’s gone for good. Your move: Brush in a soft, circular motion to protect enamel and reach between teeth.
Up Your Reps
Your biggest concern is probably stains—especially if you’re a coffee hound. Your solution: Prevent them and send bacteria packing by brushing three times a day—in the a.m., after lunch, and before bed. Brush less, and you’re letting bacteria hang out in your mouth—increasing the risk of cavities or gum disease. “The best way to reduce bacterial build up is to not allow the buildup to form in the first place,” Here’s The Better Way to Brush Your Teeth.
Change Your Tools
Most manufacturers recommend replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months—the time it may take for the brush head to wear down. “Rinsing your toothbrush after brushing and allowing it to dry takes care of the vast amount of the nasty bacteria.” Choose a soft or medium brush so you won’t damage gum tissue. Most toothbrushes are labeled.
When it comes to toothpaste, don’t go overboard—you’ll just end up spitting it all out sooner, which means you end up brushing the rest with very little toothpaste, says Young. Instead, use half the amount for your top teeth, spit, then load up the other half for your bottom teeth.