It might be a good idea to brush with the radio on, since dentists generally recommend brushing three to four minutes, the average length of a song. Using an egg timer is another way to measure your brushing time. Patients generally think they’re brushing longer, but most spend less than a minute brushing. To make sure you’re doing a thorough job and not missing any spots, patients are advised to brush the full three to four minutes twice a day, instead of brushing quickly five or more times through the day.
There are a number of effective brushing techniques. Patients are advised to check with their dentist or hygienist to determine which technique is best for them, since tooth position and gum condition vary. One effective, easy-to-remember technique involves using a circular or elliptical motion to brush a couple of teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth. Place a toothbrush beside your teeth at a 45-degree angle and gently brush teeth in an elliptical motion. Brush the outside of the teeth, inside the teeth, your tongue, the chewing surfaces and between teeth. Using a back-and-forth motion causes the gum surface to recede, can expose the root surface or make the root surface tender. You also risk wearing down the gum line.
Definitely, but most Americans don’t brush during the workday. Yet a survey by Oral-B Laboratories and the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) shows if you keep a toothbrush at work, the chances you will brush during the day increase by 65 percent. Getting the debris off teeth right away stops sugary snacks from turning to damaging acids and catches starchy foods like potato chips before they turn to cavity-causing sugar. If you brush with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before going to bed, you don’t even need to use toothpaste at work. You can just brush and rinse before heading back to your desk. If you don’t have a toothbrush, rinsing your mouth with water for 30 seconds after lunch also helps.
As more oral health product manufacturers introduce dental instruments to the consumer market, more patients are seeking treatment as a result of misuse of these devices, reports the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). AGD spokesperson Heidi Hausauer, DDS, says she frequently sees devices that resemble a scaler – an instrument used by dentists and dental hygienists for removing tartar and other deposits from the tooth surface – advertised in magazines and sold in drug stores. “I’ve had people come into the office who have used these over-the-counter dental instruments and chipped their front tooth with them,” she says. “I’ve seen patients gauge roots and chip the enamel off lower incisors.” Misuse of the devices also can lead to periodontal (gum) abscesses when tartar is pushed under the gumline. While dentists and hygienists are trained in the proper use of dental instruments and removing tartar, they warn that patients attempting to do it themselves at home may do more harm than good. Rather than attempt to advise patients on proper use of these devices, many tell their patients it is safest to avoid using them at all. “I would rather see the dentist or hygienist remove tartar,” says Dr. Hausauer. “Regular professional cleaning and dental visits are much healthier than buying something over the counter and picking at your teeth.”
Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces and controls bad breath. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chances of keeping your teeth a lifetime and decrease your chance of having periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay. Flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque, perhaps more important than the toothbrush. Many people just don’t spend enough time flossing and many have never been taught to floss properly. When you visit your dentist or hygienist, ask to be shown.
Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. Wide floss, or dental tape, may be helpful for people with a lot of bridge work. Tapes are usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide. They all clean and remove plaque about the same. Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight restorations. However, the unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know your teeth are clean. Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss but does tear more than waxed floss.
At least once a day. To give your teeth a good flossing, spend at least two or three minutes.