Your dentist is right, you’re brushing your teeth wrong. Most people choose to either brush their teeth from side to side or in a circular motion, but research shows that a combination of the methods is most effective in prevent plaque buildup.
What Is Plaque ?
According to Web MD, plaque develops when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches), such as milk, soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth.
Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, and begin to produce an acid which wears down tooth enamel (1).
Brushing gets rid of most plaque, but the bristles on your tooth brush can’t get in between your teeth. This area is also prone to plaque build-up and cavities. That’s why it’s important to floss once a day (2).
Why Is Oral Hygiene Important ?
Accumulated plaque leads to gingivitis, an inflammatory disease known to cause tooth loss or infection (3).
Symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Swollen, sore gums
- Receding gums
- Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
- A change in the color of your gums from a healthy pink to dusky red
- Bad breath
Left untreated, gingivitis develops into periodontal disease, a chronic infectious condition which affects the teeth, gums and mouth. Approximately 34% Americans over the age of 30 suffer from the disease (4).
Peridontal disease can lead to potentially life-threatening systemic diseases like heart disease and diabetes (5).
The Best Way To Brush Your Teeth
- Hold the toothbrush sideways against your teeth with some of the bristles touching your gums.
- Roll or flick the brush so that the bristles move out from under the gum toward the biting edge of the tooth.
- Do this for about 3-4 strokes or circles on each tooth.
- As you move form one tooth to the other, make sure to overlap slightly onto the tooth you’ve just cleaned.
- Repeat for every tooth.
- To clean the inside of your mouth, move up and down onto each tooth.
This technique, called the Modified Bass method, is proven to be 3 times more effective than normal brushing practices (6).
Other Things To Keep In Mind
Dentists suggest that you brush your teeth twice a day: once when you wake up and before going to bed. Brushing too hard can damage your gums and cause them to recede (7).
To avoid to damage, hold your toothbrush the same way you hold a pen and use an extra-soft bristle brush. Brush for at least two minutes.
It’s best to brush your teeth after flossing to get a deeper clean. Don’t forget to also brush your tongue and rinse with water to get rid of as much bad bacteria as possible.