Brushing Properly

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There are several effective tooth brushing techniques. No one technique is best for all people and all dental conditions. Therefore it is always best to check with your dentist or hygienist to determine which specific method will be best for you. Your oral health, tooth position, gum conditions, existing dental work, and specific trouble spots all vary, so your dental professionals will tailor a approach which is best suited to your needs.

One effective, easy-to-remember method involves using a circular or elliptical motion. Hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle toward where the tooth and gum come together. Then gently brush tooth and gum in an elliptical motion. Try to go slowly and be thorough, brushing no more than one to two teeth at a time. Brushing all your back teeth in one swipe will not work. You will miss too many nooks and crannies. Brush the inner, outer, and chewing sides of your teeth, as well as your tongue.

In general, a toothbrush head should be small (1" by �") for better access and detailing. Soft, nylon bristles with rounded tips are preferable. Medium and hard bristles brushes do more harm than good. They are not recommended. To be sure you are doing a thorough job, spend a minimum of 2-3 minutes brushing at least twice each day and brushing after every meal when possible. Using an egg timer is helpful in gauging this time, as most of us think we are brushing much longer than we really are.

There are currently several excellent electric toothbrushes on the market. The most effective brushing technique with an electric brush involves holding the brush at a 45 degree angle where the tooth and gum come together and allowing the brush to linger on each tooth for at least 8-10 seconds. This allows the motion of the bristles to most effectively "do their thing". We have found the "elliptical motion" recommended for manual brushes reduces the benefits of the electric brush. While more expensive, we have seen oral hygiene improvements in virtually everyone who has switched to an electric toothbrush.

If you have further questions about how to keep your mouth healthy, Dr. Mahlin will be happy to discuss them with you. And remember to brush a minimum of twice a day and after every meal when possible, floss once a day, and see Dr. Mahlin for regular examinations and cleanings.


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