You are brushing your teeth wrong – four steps to better oral hygiene

By taking appropriate care of your teeth, you can minimize the need for dental surgery.

Nobody enjoys the idea of a trip to the dentist. Sadly, it’s a necessary evil if we’re to maintain a smile that doesn’t frighten children.

We’re all raised to take care of our teeth. Brush twice a day, floss, and go easy on the sugar. In theory, that’s all we need to know. There’s more to the art of perfect pearly whites, though.

Do you find yourself footing the bill for lengthy – and painful – treatment every time you go for a dental check-up? If so, the answer may lie within your brushing technique or choice of toothpaste.

There are four steps you can take to minimize the risk of treatment on your next visit.

#1. Watch your sugar intake

Let’s begin with the most obvious lifestyle change that anybody can make – watching how much sugar we consume. Sugar provides a feeding frenzy for dental bacteria. The less sugar we place in our mouths, the tougher it will be for unwelcome bacteria to thrive. This, in turn, combats plaque and tartar.

It’s easier than ever to monitor our sugar intake. Take a look at the app store of your smartphone or watch. You’re sure to find software that will help you keep track. If we are to follow the advice of the World Health Organization, sugar should be below 5% of anybody’s daily calorie allowance.

This includes naturally occurring sugars in fruits, in addition to teaspoons of sugar placed in cups of coffee. Natural sugars are less likely to damage teeth, but these doses of sweetness can quickly add up. Sugary drinks – including fruit juice, which will be packed with additional flavorings and ingredients – can be particularly problematic.

In addition to how much you consume sugar, think about how often. As counterproductive as it sounds, it’s better to consume your entire sugar intake in one hit. This way, you can brush your teeth before oral bacteria has a chance to feast on the sugar.

#2. Perfect your brushing technique

Whenever you use a toothbrush, you are removing plaque from your mouth. Plaque is a sticky combination of acid, bacteria, and stubborn food that clings to the teeth. After a few hours, this bacteria grows belligerent and starts to attack the teeth. As discussed, if there are traces of sugar to be found, this damage can become visible and pronounced.

We’re taught to brush our teeth twice daily to combat this. If you eat regularly, however, consider brushing more often too. Don’t go too hard, too much – excessive brushing can be just as dangerous as neglecting to do so at all. If you can feel a film over your teeth, however, it’s definitely time to clean.

Picking the right toothbrush will also help. An electric toothbrush will work with more power and precision, clearing your teeth of any trace of plaque. You may also want to maintain a small regular toothbrush, though, using it on reach hard-to-access areas at the back of the mouth.

#3. Pick up toothpaste with a high fluoride content

We’ve all been there. After handing over our credit card, we wince when a dental hygienist attempts to upsell us on an expensive tube of toothpaste. You may insist that you’re happy with the one you pick up from the dollar store, but try to re-think this approach. Your dentist isn’t shamelessly profiteering. The truth is, not all toothpastes are created equal.

The effectiveness of toothpaste is measured in its fluoride content. Fluoride is a mineral found in the teeth, but it comes under attack by bacteria. By picking up a toothpaste that’s high in fluoride, you’ll replace all that is lost. This will strengthen your teeth and repair any damage caused throughout the day.

Check the back of your toothpaste tube. The fluoride content will be measured in ppmF – that’s parts per million. The magic number for an impactful toothpaste is somewhere between 1,350 and 1,500. Anything less is simply not performing as toothpaste should.

#4. Don’t rinse your mouth at night

It’s common knowledge that we should brush our teeth last thing at night. This is because we produce less saliva in our mouths while we sleep. Less saliva means less protection from the acid found in food. It’s imperative to remove any traces of food bacteria from the teeth before bed.

After brushing, however, it’s tempting to rinse out the mouth. This may be done using a dentist-approved mouthwash, or just with plain tap water. Unfortunately, this is hindering your teeth rather than helping. By rinsing out your mouth, you’re basically washing away the fluoride found in toothpaste. This leaves your teeth vulnerable to acidity overnight.

It may be a tough trick to master. Nobody enjoys the lingering taste of toothpaste in their mouth. However, if you can cope with this technique, you’ll bolster your dental protection by some 25%. That has to be worth a slightly unpleasant aftertaste at night.

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