Did you know that brushing your teeth every day is one of the biggest ways to preserve your smile? According to the New York Post, “A new study into the dental hygiene habits of 2,000 Americans found 3 in 10 millennials studied only brush their teeth once a day. Results also showed the average millennial surveyed has gone more than 2 days at a time without brushing their teeth at least once.” Consider these following must-do’s when it comes to brushing your teeth!
Brush Twice a Day to Avoid Tooth Decay
More than 92% of people in the United States have had at least one cavity during their lifetime. After age 65, the percentage goes up to more than 96%. 1/5th of all children also have untreated tooth decay that can cause the baby teeth to fall out. Cavities go by the name of “tooth decay” because they are literally areas on your teeth that decay. Your teeth are made up of 96% pure minerals such as calcium and phosphate, making them the hardest substance in your body.
However, those hard minerals weaken from foods and drinks. When you eat, sugars in your food mix with mouth bacteria, creating an acidic substance called plaque. That plaque is clear and sticky and will sit on the teeth, using its acids to break up hard-packed tooth minerals. Citric foods/drinks and carbonated beverages make this worse, as they have other acids in them such as citric acid and carbonic acid.
If you’re not brushing your teeth at least twice a day for 2 minutes at a time, your teeth can become weak and decay. 2 minutes, twice a day is recommended by the American Dental Association as the minimum amount of brushing you must do to avoid decay. Brushing your teeth after every meal is even more effective.
Use the Right Tools and Brushing Technique
Brushing your teeth and avoiding tooth decay requires tools such as a toothbrush, ADA-approved toothpaste, mouthwash, floss and fluoride treatments for some. Choose a brush that is gentle on your teeth (either hard or soft, but most patients prefer soft). Look for mouthwash that has built-in fluoride, which is a mineral that helps prevent decay.
When brushing your teeth, cover all tooth surfaces while moving your toothbrush in all different directions. Circular and scrubbing motions will help dislodge food particles. Also make sure to brush your tongue at the end of brushing your teeth so you don’t have mouth bacteria grow there.
Replace Your Toothbrush and Keep It Clean
The recommendation for replacing your toothbrush is every 3 months, or when the bristles start to become frayed. When the bristles fray, they are less effective at brushing your teeth. If you go through toothbrushes too fast when brushing your teeth, consider getting a harder toothbrush. Soft toothbrushes will be more gentle on the enamel (which most people love), but a harder toothbrush can also stand up better over time. Always switch out your toothbrush to avoid bacteria growth that you don’t want in your mouth.
You can keep your toothbrush clean by rinsing it out every time you brush your teeth. Place it in a dry container that has holes in it to vent the toothbrush without it collecting bacteria from the entire room. If you’re toothbrush is open to the air—especially in a bathroom—it will collect bacteria from toilet flushes, water splashes by the sink, dust and more.
Flossing: How Important Is It?
The National Institutes of Health reports that cavities are the most prevalent chronic disease among children and adults. The worst part? Tooth decay is 100% preventable. You do this by utilizing proper brushing and flossing each and every day. Flossing is very important to cavity prevention. If you skip flossing, you miss 40% of your tooth surfaces that are susceptible to decay. Floss 1-2 times a day either before or after brushing your teeth. Use about 18 inches of new floss each time, devoting every few inches to small sections of your teeth. Floss all the way up in your gum line and scrape the teeth gently as you go to remove stuck-on plaque.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Dairy products are high in the same minerals your teeth are made of, so it’s actually good for your teeth when you eat these products with calcium and phosphate. To have a healthy diet for both your body and teeth, try using these tips:
- Limit yourself to drinking only water or milk. Juices will contain citric acid and high amounts of sugar, both of which will decay the teeth. Sodas contain carbonic acid. These acids sit on the teeth for up to 30 minutes, which means you want to avoid them or wait 30 minutes to brush your teeth so you don’t take extra enamel layers off.
- Eat a diet high in protein. This builds muscles, repairs cells and helps fill you with healthy calories instead of nutrient-poor calories from desserts, snacks and greasy foods.
- Avoid hard candies, suckers, caramels and chewy candies. These either have sugar sit on the teeth for long periods of time or can break the teeth if they’re chewed.
- Don’t chew on ice. This can cause tooth breaks and erosion over time.
- Drink ½ your weight in water each day so you have enough hydration and saliva production to wash mouth bacteria away.
- Fill your plate with healthy fruits and vegetables (which are carbs) instead of unhealthy, sugary carbohydrates like breads, pastas, cookies, cakes, pastries, etc.
See Your Dentist Regularly
The ADA recommends that every person visit the dentist at least twice a year for comprehensive exams and dental cleanings. However, studies show that only about 65% of people in the U.S. are seeing a dentist each year, and only once at that. If you’re nervous about visiting the dentist, we have pain-free methods of cavity detection and treatment. Ask about these and call Niles Family Dentistry today at (720) 744-0001 to set up your dental appointment!