Does Your Brushing Technique Matter?

Brushing our teeth should be as much a part of our routine as breathing and eating.

The American Dental Association recommends brushing teeth two times daily for two minutes each time. At a minimum. So how much does the technique used while brushing matter to overall oral health?

A lot and a little.

A lot because teeth need to be thoroughly brushed often. Two times a day for two minutes each time adds up to nearly 80 days over the average person’s lifetime is spent brushing teeth. (4 minutes/day x 78 years). That’s a lot of brushing.

A little because in terms of style, different doctors may make different recommendations based on varying patient needs and circumstances, but it is the consistent brushing and attention to oral health that will pay off.

Brushing removes food and plaque from the teeth’s surface. Plaque is the sticky film that coats the teeth and reacts with sugars to create enamel-eating bacteria when you eat. The goal of brushing is to gently yet sufficiently scrub as many nooks and crannies of surface area that may be covered in plaque.

Use of a soft bristled brush is ideal for most people although your dentist may make a different recommendation based on your needs. Soft bristles are less likely to damage gums and tooth enamel while sufficiently removing any possible plaque. Use a size that is comfortable for your mouth and can reach all teeth.

A fluoride toothpaste is the ADA’s recommendation and required to receive their seal of approval. They may also contain whitening elements or gingivitis protection, but the fluoride is key. Calcium carbonate or baking soda may also be included as mild abrasives and to help remove surface stains, as well as flavors ranging from mint to bubblegum.

Additionally, the ADA recommends flossing daily with an arms length of floss and getting regular checkups from a dentist.

Sometimes a focus on the details can wind up being a roadblock to our path to good oral health. Brushing thoroughly and consistently, along with flossing and getting regular visits is the best approach. Staying focused on this will lead to a healthy mouth and happy smile.


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Duane P. Delaune, D.D.S. earned his dental degree at Louisiana State University School of Dentistry, where he graduated fifth in the class. Delaune Dental began in 1990 with the passion of providing great customer service and exceptional dental care. Dr. Delaune loves the wilderness and often hikes or goes backpacking.

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