November 1st each year means it’s National Brush Your Teeth Day! It should be no surprise that this dental day comes the day after Halloween.
In our previous post, we talked about how you can beat the Halloween cavity party that can happen because of the sticky and sugary treats kids get on Halloween. But for National Brush Your Teeth Day, our Guelph Dentist Office thought we’d share some facts about brushing your teeth, and tips on how to brush your teeth.
Why You Should Be Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth is an important part of keeping yourself healthy. Aside from the benefits of having clean teeth and fresh breath, brushing your teeth has real health benefits. By brushing your teeth, you lower your risk of a few health problems such as:
Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease comes from the inflammation of the gums and the erosion of important bones and fibres due to plaque. A small build up of plaque leads to the earliest stage of gum disease—gingivitis. It left untreated, gingivitis leads to periodontal disease which is difficult to reverse. The tissues begin to break down and there is substantial damage to the inside of the gums. If periodontal disease is not caught, it can lead to tooth loss or the need to remove teeth. Brushing your teeth is the best preventative measure to gum disease.
Consistently bad breath (Halitosis)
Although Halitosis can be from other health conditions, the main cause comes from poor oral hygiene and a lack of oral cleanings. It’s completely normal to have bad breath after eating certain foods, but bad breath can be a chronic condition that indicates other oral health problems or underlying illnesses. By brushing your teeth and by brushing your tongue, you lessen the risk of Halitosis.
If plaque builds up to the point of periodontal disease, you also put yourself at risk for heart disease. As plaque builds up, bacteria builds up and enters the blood stream. These bacteria can attach to the muscles of the heart and cause infections or clogging of the arteries. By brushing your teeth, you eliminate the build up that can enter your blood stream.
Surprisingly, dementia has been linked to poor oral health. According to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Diseases, plaque and gingivitis can cause inflammation in the pathways leading to the brain, causing memory to deteriorate. Before Dementia sets in, it is important to take preventative measures and brush your teeth.
For pregnant women, it’s important to brush your teeth for your health and for your baby’s health. If a mother has serious dental problems, it is likely that they will be passed on to the baby. There is also some evidence that may link problems like gingivitis to low birth weight and premature delivery.
While majority of these health concerns don’t seem to be related to the mouth, the mouth is the main gateway into the body. By taking care of the plaque and germs that build up in the mouth, you eliminate them from going further into the body. So how exactly should you be brushing your teeth to eliminate plaque and germs?
The Basics of Brushing Your Teeth
If you’re brushing your teeth twice a day, you may think you’re doing well. A quick brush, gargle and you’re good to go…right? We hate to burst your bubble, but there are certain techniques you should be using to brush your teeth.
First and foremost, brushing your teeth should take approximately two minutes. What most Canadians don’t realize is that they don’t spend enough time brushing their teeth during their morning and nighttime oral hygiene routine. It sounds a bit silly, but we encourage you to time out how long you brush your teeth for when you are getting ready for the day or before you go to bed. Start a timer and brush your teeth as you normally would. If you’re underneath the two minute mark, you’re not brushing your teeth long enough to get the benefits.
Within these two minutes, it’s important to get to each tooth. A great way to make sure you’re getting to all surfaces of your teeth is by creating a pattern for brushing your teeth. One way to do this is by following this:
- Brush your upper teeth on the surface facing outwards, and on the inner surfaces
- Brush your lower teeth on the surface facing outwards and on the inner surfaces
- Clean the surfaces of your teeth where you chew (especially the molars in the back of your mouth)
What You Need to Know About Brushing
When you are brushing your teeth, make sure you are brushing gently. There’s a misconception that the harder you brush your teeth, the more plaque will be removed. This is quite the opposite of what dentists recommend to patients. Make sure that when you brush your teeth, you brush in gently strokes away from the gum line.
If you find that a manual toothbrush doesn’t reach the places you need or if you don’t have the dexterity to reach all areas in your mouth, make the switch to an electronic toothbrush. There are a variety of brands that carry electronic toothbrushes and battery powered toothbrushes. These toothbrushes will do most of the brushing work for you, as long as you position them accordingly to the areas you need to clean.
It’s also very important to know when it’s time to change your toothbrush or replace the head of your powered toothbrush. As a general rule, dentists recommend changing your toothbrush or replacing the head of the toothbrush every 3 months. If you begin to see signs that the brush bristles are wearing down, replace your toothbrush or brush head sooner. Manual toothbrushes often have a blue strip in the middle that fades away when it’s time to replace the toothbrush. For brush heads, the same technique usually applies. There are even some electronic toothbrushes that have a sensor that tells you when its time to make a change.
Be sure to also brush your tongue as part of your teeth brushing routine. The tongue, like the teeth, can have a build up of bacteria. If you notice that you have a consistently white tongue, it could be a sign that your current oral hygiene routine is not removing the build up of plaque and bacteria on your tongue. This can lead to yeast infections on the tongue that travel down the throat and into the body. Sometimes, aloe vera juice can also help the tongue to heal if it is consistently irritated, but in other cases, antibiotics must be used. There are other reasons that your tongue may be white, so it is not only important to address your mouth health, but also your overall health.
Make Sure to Use Toothpaste with Fluoride
It’s important to note that when you brush your teeth, you should be brushing with toothpaste that contains fluoride. While all-natural organic toothpaste companies may be the trend in dental health these days, these toothpastes are lacking the ingredient of fluoride, which has been proven to prevent demineralization. Demineralization is the wearing away of tooth tissues that keep the layers of the teeth strong and healthy. Fluoride helps to keep the minerals in your tissue, which promotes healthy teeth and gums.
Floss Your Teeth and Schedule Dental Cleanings
When you’re done brushing your teeth and tongue, be sure to floss! Flossing removes any food and plaque build up in between the teeth that may be missed by brushing alone. It’s important that you get in between each of your teeth when you’re flossing, especially the harder to reach spots in the back. There are different types of dental floss available depending on your dexterity. Traditional floss that comes out of a container works well for those able to get into the back of their mouths easily, but something like a floss pick may be better for someone who can’t reach. There are also dental floss threaders/loops that are perfect for those who have braces, a permanent retainer, a fixed bridge or dental implants.
If you see that your gums are bleeding when you brush your teeth, it’s an early indication of gum disease. If this is what happens when you floss, please contact our Guelph Dentist Office so we can examine your gums. By detecting early stages of gum disease, we can get your dental health back on track and prevent further damage to your body.
During your scheduled dental cleanings, Dr. Nancy Wat will also take a look at your teeth and gums to determine if there are any spots you miss while you’re brushing. A well-informed dental patient leads to another healthy smile! If you need to schedule a dental cleaning or complete oral examination with our Guelph Dentist office, please contact us by filling out a form or calling our office.