dental hygiene routineMost dentists will tell patients that the two most important things they can do at home are to brush and to floss regularly. While this advice seems simple – and it is – there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to brush your teeth, and it’s important to understand the difference.

Start by choosing a toothbrush that is a comfortable size – if you have to strain to open your mouth to get the toothbrush in, it’s probably too big, and choose a brush with softer bristles, to avoid damaging your gums.

You should brush at least two times a day, but three is even better, and it should take about 2 minutes each time. If you spend 30 seconds on each quadrant (top right, bottom right, top left, bottom left), you’ll hit the two-minute mark.

Brush lightly, being careful not to damage the gums. Hold your brush at a 45 degree angle to your gums, and move the brush in an up and down motion, using short strokes. Avoid long, wide, side to side sweeping strokes that can cause scrapes along your gums.

Plain fluoride based toothpaste tends to be the best – whitening toothpastes, or those marketed to fight tartar, are likely to be harsh on your teeth, and may actually wear down your enamel over time.

Avoid acidic drinks that can weaken enamel – coffee, soda, orange juice, and energy drinks all will contribute to weakened enamel. Because of this, avoid brushing your teeth immediately after consuming them (in fact, you can avoid brushing immediately after a meal). If you wait a half hour after eating or drinking before brushing, your saliva will have an opportunity to bring your mouth back to it’s normal form, allowing your enamel to re-harden and make it less likely to be damaged during brushing.

Finally, take care of your toothbrush. Rinse it after each use, keep it in a clean area, and change it regularly, every 3 to 4 months. Doing so will keep the brush clean, so that you’re less likely to contaminate your mouth while trying to clean it.

For more information on oral care contact Dr. Gary Alhadef, DDS. Make an appointment by calling 469-718-0128 or visit our website at www.dallascosmeticdental.com.