How to Brush Up on Your Dental Habits

Article excerpt

Byline: Harvard Health Letter

Toothbrushing may be the most ingrained of all health habits. We take a toothbrush with us when we travel. Most people cant imagine getting through a day without brushing at least once and probably twice. And theres apparently enough money in it to make expensive advertising campaigns worthwhile. Imagine if other health habits exercise, eating whole grains, getting enough sleep had the ad budgets of Crest or Colgate?

But just because we do something often doesnt mean we do it right and theres lots of bad brushing going on. An inadequate job leaves behind the bacteria-laden plaque the whitish stuff that collects in between teeth and near the gum line that causes cavities and gum disease.

Overzealous brushing is a problem, too, scraping away tooth structure and damaging gum tissue so it loses its nice, tight grip on teeth and opens the door to infection and serious gum damage.

Here are seven tips about toothbrushing that may help you to do a better job of keeping teeth clean.

1. Brush longer than you think you need to. Studies have shown that most people claim they brush for two to three minutes when theyve actually spent about half that time. A good, thorough brushing takes at least two minutes whether youre using a manual or powered toothbrush.

2. Work systematically. People often spend more time on their front teeth, and theres some lore that right-handed people neglect the right side of their mouth and left-handers the left side. Some dentists recommend dividing the mouth into quadrants and moving methodically from the upper right to the upper left to the lower right and then to the lower left. .

3. Use a brush with soft bristles of varying height. Soft bristles are easier on the teeth and gums and may do a better job of cleaning between teeth. Most brushes are advertised as having soft bristles, but companies are free to define softness as they wish, so you may need to experiment a little. …