A Basic Brushing Plan for Clean Teeth
Numerous toothbrushing techniques have been recommended over the years. All have similar goals—removing food, stimulating gums, and preventing plaque buildup.
Some people may get better results with one method than another, depending on their particular dental conditions and oral anatomy. For example, an electric toothbrush can be particularly helpful for people who have trouble reaching all corners of their mouth. Power brushes are useful for people with braces, parents brushing their young children’s teeth, and individuals with mental or physical disabilities that impair dexterity. In addition, studies have shown that one type of power brush, the rotation oscillation design, is consistently better at removing plaque and reducing gingivitis than a manual toothbrush.
Your dentist can help you decide which toothbrush and method are best for you. In the meantime, here’s a basic brushing plan that works for many people.
Start on the outside surface of your top teeth, beginning with the furthermost molars on one side and working forward.
Holding your brush horizontally, place the bristles against the gum line at a slight angle (about 45 degrees). Using a short, rolling stroke, gently brush down toward the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
Repeat this motion at least five times before moving along the gum line, overlapping brushing sites slightly.
Repeat the same procedure over the inner surfaces of the teeth.
For the bottom teeth, repeat the steps above, brushing up from the gum line toward the chewing surfaces.
To get behind the top and bottom front teeth, hold the brush vertically with the bristles pressing against the interior surface of the teeth. Move the tip of the brush up and down over the teeth and gums.
To clean the chewing surfaces of the teeth, use short vibrating strokes pushing down slightly so that the bristles penetrate the grooves of the teeth.
Brushing your tongue when you cleanse your teeth will cut down on the hordes of bacteria that congregate on the tongue’s surface. It also can help banish bad breath. To brush your tongue, place your toothbrush as far back toward the throat as you can without gagging. Sweep the brush forward six to eight times. Or, if you prefer, you can use a flexible strip of plastic or stainless steel called a tongue scraper. Center the arch of the scraper on your tongue as far back as you can without gagging and pull it forward, pressing lightly.
Finish up by brushing the roof of your mouth.
Source: Dental Health for Adults: A Guide to Protecting Your Teeth and Gums. Copyright © by Harvard University. All rights reserved.
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