Brushing your teeth is an important ritual that marks the start of the day, and the end of it too, for most of us. A clean, fresh mouth relates to a fresh experience physically and psychologically as well. Therefore, knowledge of proper brushing techniques is crucial.
An Important Habit But Do We Do It Right?
As busier as life gets, the common tendency that brushing a surface will ultimately clean it, no matter how we clean it, has stuck in the mind of the common man and most of us even see it as a “time-consuming, miscellaneous task” and hence, perform other activities while brushing too. Some stick their brush in their mouth and read the newspapers, prepare clothes, watch the news, etc, as if just sticking the brush in the mouth and moving it to and fro will get the job done right.
There are even some people who brush their teeth in a day for a time that can sum up to the total brushing time recommended for an entire year. Yes, it sounds amusing and relatable. However, brushing your teeth, as healthy a habit as it is, if not done right, can harm your teeth too. Yes! You heard it right.
How Can Incorrect Brushing Harm Your Teeth?
If you aren’t aware of how you are working the brush in your mouth, it can cause damage to the gums and teeth causing dental problems which did not exist before.
Additionally, toothpaste is a material that contains abrasives whereas the brush itself is a cleaning instrument. Ever scrubbed a non-stick pan hard or for a long time? After some scrubbing, the stuck food will come off but if you keep scrubbing more, you will notice the coating coming off. That is exactly how brushing our teeth works. Consider the food stuck in the pan as plaque, and the non-stick coating as the enamel, which is the outer layer of the tooth.
Brushing is meant to remove the soft layer formed from plaque and food debris in our mouth which can be easily scrubbed off. However, if excessive and extensive brushing is done, it can damage the enamel of the tooth. Adding to it, if you are brushing your teeth without targeting the areas where plaque is accumulated, you are not safe from dental problems.
What Are The Correct Brushing Techniques You Can Learn?
Yes! Here are some brushing techniques that can help you brush your teeth better:
1) Bass Method –
In this method, you place the brush on your outer gums and angle the bristles towards the gums, where it meets your tooth and use small circular motions targeting 2-3 teeth at a time.
This method helps clean the gum sulcus, the place where the teeth and gums meet and plaque gets deposited most. To clean the inner surfaces of the front teeth, place the brush vertically inside against the teeth and clean it. After brushing the sulcus, you can clean the inner sides of the teeth as well as the chewing surfaces. It is recommended even in patients with periodontitis.
2) Stillman Method –
In this method, you place the brush partly on the teeth and partly on the gums and angle it towards the gum sulcus. Instead of circular motion as in the Bass technique, we perform a “to and fro” motion. After cleaning all the outer surfaces in a set of 2-3 teeth at a time, we move to clean the inner surfaces and chewing surfaces.
3) Charter Method –
In this method, we place the brush partly against the teeth and partly against the gums, like in the Stillman method, but we angle the brush away from the gums, i.e, towards the tip of our teeth. Using both horizontal ‘to and fro’ and circular motion, cleaning has to be done similar to the sequence and pattern in the previous two methods. It is advised for patients with spaces in their teeth or who have gums that have reduced in height.
4) Modified Bass/Stillman/Charter Method –
These are modifications of the previously mentioned techniques. No need to worry as there is just an extra step to all three. As you clean the teeth with any of the above methods, you have to sweep the brush away from the teeth, as if sweeping the floor with a broom. This ensures that the debris is cleaned away which might have been stuck between two teeth.
Additional Tips for a Healthy Brushing Routine
- Change your toothbrush if the bristles have frayed away. Cleaning your teeth with a wrong or useless instrument will do no good.
- Brushing time should be 3 to 5 minutes on average. No more, no less.
- Do not aggressively brush teeth with a mindset of “thorough cleaning”.
- Do not use an amount of toothpaste more than half the length of the toothbrush. The recommended amount of toothpaste by ADA for adults is the sizing equivalent to a pea and for kids below age 5, it is the size of a rice grain, smeared on the toothbrush.
- Do not brush without paying attention. Take your time while brushing by looking in a mirror to see if you are brushing right. Wrong methods of brushing cause more damage than plaque.
- Avoid brushing for at least 20min after consuming any food or drink.
- 2 times a day, on average, is enough cleaning, do not indulge in brushing your teeth more than that. Remember, too much is sometimes harmful too.
We hope you could learn something helpful today with us. Did you know brushing your teeth had so much added information to it? Now that you are aware of the dos and don’ts of tooth brushing and the right ways you can maintain your teeth, we hope your dental health stays well. Happy brushing!