How to Brush Your Teeth Properly and Why We Do It

Everyone knows that brushing is important. It’s the foundation of good oral hygiene, keeping your teeth clean, your breath fresh, and helping to prevent issues such as halitosis, cavities, and more. But many people misunderstand the reasons we brush and even after years of daily practice, they still don’t know how to brush properly.

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Why We Brush

We brush to prevent plaque, but this isn’t always visible and the discolored areas that are visible may not be the result of plaque at all.

Plaque is a sticky bacterium that latches onto your enamel and sticks in place. If you brush, you can remove this film and expose the clear enamel underneath. However, if you neglect your oral hygiene routine this substance can harden and form tartar, which can only be removed following a deep dental clean.

Plaque and tartar aren’t the only causes of staining, either. There is also something known as intrinsic staining, which occurs under the surface of the tooth, often as a result of diet, medication, or aging. This staining can’t be removed by brushing or teeth whitening strips/toothpaste and the only solution is to use a whitening product like Snow.

If you’re ever found yourself brushing like a crazy person in an effort to remove staining, only for that staining to remain regardless, then you may have intrinsic stains.

How Plaque Forms

The mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria and the worst of this bacteria, at least as far as your teeth are concerned, thrives on starchy and sugary foods. If left untouched, bacteria will feed off these foods and erode the enamel.

It can form on the entire surface of the tooth, which is why it’s important to brush thoroughly and to floss, removing the plaque between the teeth as well as on the front and back.

Plaque doesn’t just do serious damage to your enamel; it also smells terrible and is a leading cause of bad breath. Try scraping a little plaque off your teeth with your nail and then smelling it. It’s enough to make you gag, and if you have a lot of plaque then that’s the smell that lingers every time you exhale.

Why We Don’t Brush Properly

The average person brushes the center and bottom of their teeth, giving them a quick scrub before moving on. But these aren’t the main problem areas and it’s possible to brush your teeth regularly and vigorously while stilling leaving a lot of plaque in place.

Plaque forms everywhere but the main problem areas are at the top of your teeth, between them, and on your gums. Salvia and fibrous food do a good job of removing plaque from other areas and because they have a wider surface area, your toothbrush will also clean them better. But these problem areas are often neglected, leading to a severe plaque build-up and the formation of cavities.

Brush your gums lightly as well as your teeth; use a brush that gets between the teeth and covers them in their entirety, and remember to floss!

How to Brush

Dentists recommend the following oral hygiene routine:

  1. Floss: Use waxed floss to get between your teeth and give them a good scrub. Leave no area untouched and make sure it goes right to the gum. There may be a little bleeding if you’re not used to this, but it’s perfectly normal.
  2. Scrub your Tongue: You don’t need to scrub your tongue as often as you brush, but once a day or every other day is fine, keeping bacteria to a minimum, reducing plaque and preventing halitosis.
  3. Rinse: Use water or mouthwash to rinse your mouth, removing the debris accumulated in your mouth from the flossing/scrubbing and washing all residual bacteria away.
  4. Brush: Dentists recommend that you focus on one tooth at a time, going to and beyond the gum line and scrubbing both the front and the back. You should brush for at least 2 minutes. A good rule of thumb is to give each “quadrant” of your mouth 30 seconds.
  5. Don’t Rinse: Don’t reach for the mouthwash and don’t rinse your mouth with water. It’s normal to want to get rid of that minty taste and bring some sparkle to your pearly whites, but doing so will wash away the fluoride, which needs to remain on your teeth to work its magic.