Brushing Basics: Healthy Teeth Healthy You

By:
Diana Denning
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Dental Hygiene 101
Photo by George Becker from Pexels

Healthy Teeth Healthy You

Forty million. One hundred million. One hundred seventy-eight million. Three and a half BILLION. I wish these numbers were referring to the amount of money in my bank accounts, but sadly, all these number are referring to a much more serious issue - ORAL HEALTH!

*Over 40 million American’s are missing ALL their teeth

Over 100 million American’s lack dental insurance

Over 178 million American’s are missing at least one tooth

Over 3.5 billion people worldwide are dealing with the effects of oral disease

You may find yourself in one, or more, of these groups. Clearly, you are not alone. In the past, insurance companies have not seen oral health as something tied to overall health, which meant they did not offer dental coverage. This is part of the reason so many people are facing the hardships that come with poor oral health.

The other reason for poor oral health usually comes from our own laziness. In this four-part series, we will discuss what BASIC steps we can take to improve our own oral health.  

Step One – Brush Your Teeth.

You may be thinking, “DUH. I know that is important!” But let’s dive into what “brushing your teeth” really means.

- Brush TWICE a day

According to the Mayo Clinic, a proper brushing session should take TWO minutes. That is FOUR minutes each day. How long do you usually brush? Now think, how long do you spend on social media? Could you maybe spend

four less minutes on social media and use that time to brush your teeth more effectively?

- Brush your TONGUE!

Bacteria live on your tongue as well as on and in-between your teeth. Do not neglect your tongue. Include it each time you brush your teeth.

- Brush CORRECTLY.

According to the ADA your toothbrush should be at a 45-degree angle. GENTLY move the brush in strokes the width of your teeth. Brush gently but thoroughly. Brush the inside surfaces, outside surfaces, and the chewing surfaces. You can tilt the toothbrush vertical to reach specific teeth with more of an up-and-down stroke. Do not brush your teeth like you would scrub a greasy pan. Brushing hard causes damage to your teeth and gums.

- Choose the CORRECT TOOTHBRUSH.

Find a brush that fits your mouth and tooth size. Make sure the bristles are not too tough for your teeth and gums. If brushing correctly with a regular toothbrush is hard for you because of physical limits or bad habits, consider an electric toothbrush.

- Keep your toothbrush CLEAN.

Rinse the brush thoroughly with water after each brushing session. Let your toothbrush air-dry between cleanings. If you can, store your toothbrush upright, and in its own container. This will prevent cross-contamination between bacteria on other toothbrushes. Get a new toothbrush every three months.

My guess is, there is something we can all learn about brushing our teeth correctly and thoroughly. I challenge you to find one way to improve your brushing technique from this list. Your oral health and overall health can benefit by getting back to the basics of how to correctly brush your teeth.

*Sources:
American College of Prosthodontists - https://www.prosthodontics.org/assets/1/7/ACP_Talking_points_for_Missing_Teeth_1-12-15.pdf