Show your teeth some love with better brushing
You’ve done it every day of your life, but when is the last time you updated about your toothbrushing routine?
Are you still following the brushing instructions you were given in your childhood?
Do you know what kind of brushing your teeth and gums need? Certain medications, poor nutrition, too much stress or tension in the jaw can all make teeth enamel or gum lines soft and vulnerable to being damaged by inappropriate brushing techniques.
Better brushing can help to maintain your teeth and gums in perfect health for the rest of your life.
Softer is better
Always choose the softest bristles for your toothbrush to avoid scratching or gouging the surface of your teeth. Firm and even medium bristles wear down soft enamel, making it more vulnerable to decay. A soft brush allows you to gently polish the surface of your teeth, leaving them so glassy that plaque can’t stick to them.
Rubbing your gums with hard bristles can break the delicate surface membranes, weakening their grip on your teeth and allowing bacteria from your mouth enter your bloodstream and potentially lead to inflammation in your gut, heart or lungs.
Hard bristles on an electric toothbrush can be even more damaging than those on a regular manual brush. Speedy electric toothbrushes increase the impact of your toothbrushing technique, so it’s even more important to use soft bristled head and hold lightly against your teeth than with a manual toothbrush.
You always can soften your toothbrush even more by running the bristles under hot water before you start brushing.
Polish don’t scrub
Instead of scrubbing your teeth like you are cleaning a kitchen floor, imagine you are gently polishing antique silver plate. Ideally, you can brush so lightly that even after six months your toothbrush bristles will still look brand new!
Try to hold your toothbrush with the tips of your fingers very close to the toothbrush head (like a fancy lady sipping from her bone china teacup). With your fine-motor skills in play it is much easier to brush gently than if you are gripping the end of the brush in your fist. If it is difficult for you to hold a manual brush this way, try an electric toothbrush which you can grip while applying the lightest touch possible to your teeth.
When you are brushing your teeth, be sure to avoid brushing into the gum line. Brushing carelessly into your gums contributes to receding gums, gum pockets or abrasions that can lead to gum disease. If you have receding or bleeding gums you really need to use soft, round-tipped bristles and brush very, very gently.
You can brush your gums, but this should be done separately with a dry, soft-bristled manual toothbrush. You can buy gum brushes or use a baby toothbrush which is small and soft. Always brush gums from the jaw towards the teeth, so with a downward motion on the top gums and upward on the bottom gums.
Plaque begins to rebuild within 6 hours of brushing, so it is important to brush both morning and night. However, you should always wait for an hour after you eat before brushing, because your enamel is at its softest and most vulnerable from acids and sugars.
The best time to brush in the morning is as soon as you get up, to give your mouth a fresh start for the day. Then, when you start to eat and drink there is less harmful bacteria interacting with the breakfast food in your mouth.
In the evening, wait an hour or so after you’ve finished eating, but don’t wait until you are too tired to brush carefully. Brushing an hour or two before you are ready for bed allows you to brush with your full attention.
Slow down, you brush too fast
The most important toothbrushing tip I tell my holistic teeth health clients is to brush slowly. You should spend at least two or three minutes brushing in total, brushing each tooth surface individually, and stroking away from the gum. If you are used to rushing through brushing, then it may feel very unnatural and boring to slow down.
One way to help yourself stay on task is to distract yourself. Watch TV, listen to music, the radio, a talking book or a podcast as you brush.
Another, even more effective, technique is to treat toothbrushing as a twice daily mindfulness practice. As you brush you can look in the mirror and think positive affirmations. Your teeth cleaning time is the best time to think loving thoughts towards your teeth and gums, and forgive yourself any imperfections.
Your teeth have been with you for a long time, you can keep them forever by adapting your routine to show them the love and care they need as they grow older with you.
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