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Richard L. Rausch, DDS
1 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2201, New York, NY 10020

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Brush Up on the Benefits of Brushing

We’ve been taught since before we can remember that it’s important to brush our teeth every day so that we don’t get cavities. However, dental hygiene has come a long way since we were young children, so now is an excellent time to brush up on your brushing techniques and the reasons behind them. It’s a habit that takes only a few minutes each day, but it can provide lifelong benefits when done correctly and lifelong consequences when it isn’t.

Why Is It So Important to Brush Your Teeth Properly?

After you eat or drink anything, a substance called plaque starts to form on your teeth. It’s responsible for that fuzzy feeling you sometimes get after eating foods that are high in sugar or carbohydrates. Plaque is rife with bacteria, and when it’s not removed, then the bacteria begin to multiply and cause decay. It can also start the formation of gingivitis, which is the beginning of periodontal disease. Gum disease has been linked to severe health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and stroke. Proper brushing and flossing can keep your gums and teeth healthy, which can keep your body healthy.

Are There Adverse Consequences of Plaque?

When plaque remains on your teeth – which it will unless it’s removed through brushing and flossing – it causes more bacteria to grow and settle between your teeth and gums. When the plaque isn’t removed through brushing and flossing, it becomes calculus, which is a very hard substance that can only be removed by a dental professional. The bacteria in plaque will irritate your gums and cause inflammation. This is the early stage of gum disease, also called gingivitis. When gingivitis is treated at this stage, it can be cured.

Otherwise, it will progress to periodontal disease. When it continues untreated, periodontal disease can destroy the ligaments that hold your teeth in, so your teeth will fall out. Your jawbone will deteriorate, and you’ll lose facial structure. At this point, the only solution is reconstructive dentistry, which is expensive, time-consuming, and painful. It’s much easier to adopt a regimen of good oral hygiene than it is to suffer the consequences of gum disease.

Which Brushing Habits Will Provide Healthy Teeth?

Your dentist will always be a good source of information about good oral hygiene habits, including brushing techniques. However, you can also follow the recommendations of the American Dental Association, which are:

Brushing

  • Ensure that you brush all of your teeth: It may seem that this is a given, but sometimes you can miss some of your teeth without being aware of it. If you lack manual dexterity, your toothbrush is incorrectly sized, you have a tooth that’s sensitive, or you get interrupted while you’re brushing, you may miss one or more teeth. If you have a sensitive tooth and it doesn’t feel better within a few days, you should consult with your dentist in Rockefeller Plaza.
  • Brushing your teeth directly before bedtime can provide the maximum benefits. Otherwise, bacteria and acids can remain on your teeth overnight, which can cause decay and cavities to form. Ideally, you should brush when you get up in the morning before you eat or drink, throughout the day after you eat or drink, and at night before you retire. However, when this isn’t feasible, flossing and using an antibacterial mouthwash can benefit your oral health.
  • Tongue: When you brush your teeth, you should brush your tongue as well. Your tongue has a very rough surface that’s an ideal hiding place for bacteria, so brushing your tongue can remove residual bacteria that can cause decay and gum disease. You’ll also have fresher breath.

Dental Visits

  • Cleanings and checkups: You may have the best oral hygiene in the world, but you still need to have regular dental cleanings and checkups. A professional hygienist can clean areas that you might have missed, and they’ll do a more thorough job. Your dentist may be able to spot a potential problem before it escalates into a major issue. Semi-annual appointments are the best, but if that’s not feasible, you should have annual appointments.

Equipment

  • Equipment: You should thoroughly clean your toothbrush each time you use it. Make sure that there are no food particles trapped in the bristles, and don’t store it with other toothbrushes. It should be stored upright, away from other toothbrushes, and allowed to air dry. Don’t use a covered container since that encourages the growth of mold and bacteria.
  • Equipment replacement: Your toothbrush needs to be replaced every three months or sooner if the bristles become worn. You should also replace it immediately after you’ve been ill.
  • Toothbrush choices: Your toothbrush should be sized according to the size of your jaw and mouth. If your toothbrush is too large, it won’t be able to reach all the areas; if it’s too small, it will take too long to complete your brushing routine. Anymore, many dentists recommend the use of battery-operated toothbrushes because they’re more effective at brushing and reaching difficult areas. If you have questions about the type of toothbrush you should use, your dentist will be happy to help you.
  • Toothpaste: There’s an incredible variety of toothpaste available, so there’s likely one to meet every need. However, be sure to select a toothpaste that carries the American Dental Association seal of approval.

Flossing and Rinsing

  • Flossing: You need to floss as well as brush if you’re to have the best oral health possible. Ideally, you should brush and floss after each meal or snack. If that’s not possible, flossing and rinsing after a snack is better than not doing anything. You should, at a minimum, floss before you retire for the night.
  • Rinsing: Brushing and flossing are absolute minimums for good daily hygiene, but rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash will make your hygiene regimen as effective as possible. Even after you brush and floss, you can have a bacterial residue that will enable the formation of decay and additional bacteria. Rinsing will help remove the residue and provide you with the freshest breath possible. It’s also an excellent emergency substitute for those times when you can’t brush and floss.

Technique and Timing

  • Technique: One of the best techniques for thorough brushing is to imagine that your mouth is divided into four sections. Concentrate on brushing each section for 30 seconds, which will enable you to brush for two minutes. Be sure to get all of the exposed surfaces of your teeth, and don’t press too hard. Gentle pressure is more effective, and it won’t damage your tooth enamel.
  • Motion: It doesn’t matter whether you use a back-and-forth motion or a circular motion as long as you hold your toothbrush at an angle and use gentle pressure.
  • Timing: Whether you brush first or you floss first isn’t important as long as you do both. Be sure to brush for at least two minutes each time.

How Does Brushing Improve the Health of My Teeth?

Proper brushing and flossing will remove the majority of bacteria in your mouth and will eliminate the plaque that can eventually cause you to lose your teeth. Brushing isn’t difficult to master, but it needs to be done properly in order to provide you with the lifelong benefits that you need.

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Richard L. Rausch, DDS

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(646) 863-8184

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