Do you view brushing your teeth as a mindless task? It may be time to rethink the “mindless” strategy behind caring for those pearly whites. Not thinking about brushing your teeth can lead to common brushing mistakes—and some pretty significant ones that can impact your oral health. And since oral health is connected to your overall health, that means even more is on the line every time you brush. So next time you brush, think about it: are you making these common brushing mistakes?
- Buying the wrong brush. Are you throwing your jaw out of place trying to get that brush into the corners of your mouth? Are your gums raw and bleeding after every brushing? You may be buying a brush that is too big and brushing with bristles that are too hard. Dentists recommend buying a soft or medium brush, which is easy on the gums while still getting your teeth clean.
- Not brushing long enough. The American Dental Association recommends brushing for 2 minutes. Are you brushing long enough? Use a timer, or find another way to make sure you are hitting the 2 minute mark every time you brush.
- Not flossing. We know that technically this has nothing to with your toothbrush, but flossing is an important part of your brushing routine that many people miss. Flossing is essential for removing harmful bacteria between your teeth, so not including this as part of your daily brushing routine can negatively affect your oral health.
- Brushing incorrectly. Do you start brushing on the same side every time? If you haven’t thought about it before, it’s time to start taking note. Commonly, people brush harder when they start, so it’s important to spread that effort around your mouth. Once you’ve figured out which side you start on, alternate sides and make sure you’re brushing correctly and teaching your kids to do the same. Ask your dentist to demonstrate the correct way to brush your teeth.
- Brushing too much or too hard. Consistency is the key to a healthy mouth. Maintain a daily consistent brushing schedule of 2-3 times a day, and not any more than that. Brushing too much can damage your tooth enamel, which can lead to other tooth problems. Also, don’t brush too hard which can have the same negative effect on your teeth.
- Holding on to that nasty old toothbrush, with an emphasis on “old.” Your toothbrush should be replaced every 3-4 months or earlier if the bristles fray.
- Not rinsing the brush. When you’ve completed two minutes of brushing, rinse the brush to wash the toothpaste and bacteria out. Make sure you don’t put your rinsed toothbrush in a tight container after you’re done. Let your toothbrush air dry.
If you have any questions, make a list to take to your next dentist appointment, send your dentist a message or contact them via social media. Spending a few minutes thinking about your brushing routine can make a world of difference at your next dentist appointment when you walk in and out with a clean, healthy mouth.
Do you red, swollen gums? Are your gums bleeding while brushing or flossing? Do you bad breath you can’t shake? Sores in your mouth? A receding gum line? Time to visit your dentist. Any of these symptoms can be linked to gum disease, also called periodontal disease, an inflammation of the gums that hold your teeth in place.
The mild form of gum disease is gingivitis. Gingivitis is characterized by symptoms such as red, swollen gums and bleeding; gingivitis can be reversed and does not always progress into periodontitis.
Periodontitis is the condition that stems from untreated gingivitis, and is a chief cause of tooth loss in adults. During periodontitis, the gums recede from the teeth and form pockets. As periodontitis progresses, your immune system attacks your gum tissue and teeth causing tooth loss.
When discussing gum disease with our patients, we often hear “why me?” You may have an increased risk of gum disease because of:
- Family history
- Chewing tobacco
- Medication & treatments
- Poor oral health
- Female hormonal changes
The good news about gum disease is that it is treatable, though treatment options vary from patient to patient. If you are concerned about the possibility of gum disease, or have been diagnosed with gum disease, schedule an appointment with one of our dentists to discuss your options and get your gum disease under control. Don’t wait. Gum disease is a progressive disease that can be treated and even reversed if caught early enough. Schedule an appointment to reverse it (don’t wait!), get it under control, and keep it under control, so you don’t have to worry about gum disease.
Why should I brush my teeth? Floss? Visit the dentist? When our lives get hectic, or when the bills start accumulating, these daily tasks can seem like a pain. Taking the time to floss is just one more thing you don’t have time to do, much less take the time to visit the dentist.
And yet it seems like new studies are coming out every day linking poor oral health to health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. With your mouth being the gateway to your body, it’s no wonder that bacteria gain entrance to your body orally. What is surprising is that poor oral health can create a climate ripe for bacteria to enter and cause problems in other parts of your body. And that same cause-and-effect also works in reverse: your dentist can tell if you have conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure by simply looking in your mouth.
So how can you maintain good oral health? Use these general guidelines:
Teach your kids to brush and floss early so they can establish a solid brushing and flossing routine and maintain good oral health. Find tips on how to teach your kids, and make it fun and enjoyable, in our recent blog post. Don’t forget to take those tips for good oral health to heart. Scheduling a regular visit with your dentist can be the difference between good and poor oral health—and the overall health of your entire body.
Often, our kids are a case of the extremes when it comes to establishing good, solid brushing habits: they either leave toothpaste all over the bathroom from goofing around (how did they get toothpaste there???) or they’re screaming in protest at the mere thought of a toothbrush. A child with good brushing habits is somewhere in the middle, taking their brushing habits (somewhat) seriously and willingly.
With new medical studies regularly connecting good oral health to overall health, the importance of establishing good brushing habits is more important than ever. So how can you teach your kids to brush their teeth (and like it)? Because every child is different, you may have to try one (or several of) these strategies to see what your child enjoys:
- Use technology. Use these fun videos to help your kids make sure they are brushing long enough, or download one of these cool apps to make brushing for two minutes fun.
- Get toothbrushes (and toothpaste!) your kids like. Let them pick out fun toothbrushes that make them want to brush their teeth.
- Show them how Mommy and Daddy (or a cool older sibling!) do it. Be a good role model. Brush often, and brush with your kids to get them in the habit.
- Make it a game. Have kids pretend they are superheroes destroying cavities. Or try pretending that their toothbrush is a spaceship zapping away cavities. For the fairy-tale minded, pretend fairies are on their toothbrush. Or bring the zoo into your brushing habits by asking your lion to roar so you can brush his or her teeth!
- Read books about brushing teeth. Find books about brushing teeth to read to your kids and add them to your reading routine.
- Let them brush. Once your child is around two years old, allow them to brush their teeth. It makes them feel independent.
If your kids are in a local southeastern Wisconsin day care or school, have your kids hear about the importance of brushing habits straight from the source: from the dental hygienists that clean their teeth. Call Watertown Area Dental to set up a fun and interactive presentation for your kids. And don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about establishing good brushing habits in your children. Your kids, their mouths and overall health, will thank you later.