Toothbrushing is such an ingrained habit, few people think twice about it. But, as with any habit, you can get sloppy, and that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. There is enough written in the dental literature to point out common toothbrushing mistakes and how to correct them:
- Not using the right brush: Richard Price, DMD, consumer adviser for the American Dental Association, says consider the size of your mouth--the brush shouldn't be too big to fit in all areas of your mouth without strain, and should have a comfortable handle. Many brushes have padded handles that facilitate brushing at the right angle. While electrical or manual is an individual preference, the "brusher" and technique is better than the brush.
- Not picking the right bristle: angled or straight bristles are just as good, but bristles that are too stiff can aggravate gums and have greater potential for creating tooth abrasion. Soft-bristled brushes are effective in removing plaque. "Natural" bristles (made from animal hair or boar bristle) are not recommended.
- Not brushing often enough or long enough: at lease twice a day is recommended, for at least two minutes. The evidence in the literature shows tooth protection is greatly increased when that becomes three times a day, for at least three minutes. That's why some electric toothbrushes have built in timers.
- Brushing too often or too hard: excessive brushing could expose the root of the tooth or the gum tissues to irritation. Brushing vigorously can also erode tooth enamel.
It's amazing that just a few minutes per day, well spent, can keep your mouth healthy and, in turn, treat your whole body right.
Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309