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Toronto, ON. M6S 4W3
It’s funny to think despite brushing your teeth regularly, you can still run into dental issues. However, many people don’t realize there's a right way and a wrong way to brush your teeth.
Even the most diligent oral care can backfire on you if you are not brushing properly. Poor brushing habits could increase the risk for issues such as gum disease and teeth sensitivity.
Here we look at 10 ways you can tell you are brushing your teeth properly, and ways to improve your teeth cleaning technique.
1. You have bad breathWe’ll start here as it is often the most obvious sign. If you feel you have bad breath all the time, this indicates that your oral health is not optimized. Also known as halitosis, bad breath is an early warning sign of dental issues, including gum disease. When you don’t brush and floss properly, you allow bacteria and plaque to build up. This leads to gum inflammation and bleeding.
2. You have a white tongueHealthy tongues are pink, while white tongues are a sign something is amiss. A white coating is another sign of bacteria build-up. To avoid this, brush your tongue as well as your teeth to remove more bacteria.
3. You get food stuck between your teethCavities can make it easier for food to get caught in your teeth. If you notice food is getting caught in your teeth despite brushing and flossing, it could be because there is a cavity in that spot. Mention this issue to your dentist so they can catch it before it has time to progress.
4. Your gums bleedTeeth shouldn’t bleed when you brush and floss. This is another sign your gums aren’t healthy. If you see blood in your saliva when you spit after brushing, you should speak to our team as soon as possible. You can also look at your gums to see if they look like they are red or swelling. However, don’t start brushing aggressively, as this can also cause bleeding, which can lead to other issues, including receding gums.
5. You see white patches on your teethWhile white teeth are desirable, white patches aren’t. They can indicate you have a cavity or that a cavity is forming. White spots mean you have weakening enamel. Unfortunately, if these spots are between your teeth or at the back, you won’t be able to see them. However, we can spot them at your regular dental checkup.
6. Your teeth are sensitiveAnother side effect of aggressive brushing is tooth sensitivity. If you find your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold, or even sweet foods, you could be brushing too aggressively. However, it can also be due to other issues, so speak to our team to be safe. We can at least recommend improved brushing techniques and a good sensitive formula toothpaste.
7. Your teeth seem to be longerIf you are brushing improperly, you can affect your gums. In some cases, receding gums can make your teeth appear bigger, especially in length. This can be caused by toothbrush abrasion when once again, you are a little too aggressive when you brush.
8. Your teeth are yellowingWhile many things can contribute to yellowing teeth, a major culprit is plaque. It can appear on your teeth as a yellow or even brown buildup that ruins the look of your smile and eventually begins to eat away at your enamel. It most commonly will appear along the gum line, as well as on your lower front teeth.
9. Your teeth feel grittyPlaque can also cause your teeth to feel gritty or less smooth. That just professionally cleaned feeling is most noted with an overall smoothness to your teeth. Over time this fades as traces of plaque buildup.
10. Your teeth feel “weak”Poor brushing can weaken your teeth leading to issues such as chips and cracks and an unstable feeling like your teeth are loose. This can be worrisome and deserves attention from our team. Combine this with tooth pain or sensitivity, and there’s a good chance you have tooth decay.
Tips to Improve BrushingIf you want to improve your brushing technique, you can use these tips:
- Choose the right toothbrushA soft-bristled toothbrush helps avoid damage to your teeth and gums. You should also make sure your toothbrush isn’t too large for your mouth, as this makes it difficult to get the right angle to reach all your teeth’s surfaces. A toothbrush with a textured back is perfect for brushing your tongue.
- Slow it downYou should be brushing your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day. Electric toothbrushes have a timer that makes this easier. If you don’t have an electric toothbrush, consider setting a timer on your phone.
- Be gentleIt might seem going at your teeth with more force will help remove plaque and bacteria, but in fact, it’s damaging your teeth and gums. Instead, use a gentle touch to avoid damaging your poor gums and enamel. If you can’t seem to get this right, it's worth investing in an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor.
- Change your toothbrushIt’s hard to remember to replace your toothbrush regularly, but it helps to do so because frayed bristles can cause damage. Make sure you get a new toothbrush every 3-4 months. If you see the bristles are no longer neatly aligned, it’s definitely time for a new brush.
- Improve your techniqueYour brushing technique can be improved using circular up and down movements instead of strictly up and down or back and forth motions. Always brush away from the gums towards the ends of your teeth, not the other way around. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle at the gum line and brush towards the tooth to get the entire surface of the tooth.
- Brush all surfacesIf you consider the 2-minute rule, you have about 15 seconds for each tooth and its surfaces. Do the fronts of your teeth, and then make your way around the inside backs as well.
- Don’t brush right after eatingAlthough you might think brushing right after eating makes sense, never do this. Always wait at least 15 to 20 minutes; otherwise, you are forcing the sugars and acids right into your teeth. Let your saliva do its job to remove them from your mouth; then, you can brush.