Clean teeth and healthy gums are important indicators of a sound oral hygiene regime. Many people were taught basic oral hygiene in school or at home, but there are questions that many ask in regards to the health of their teeth:

How often should I brush my teeth? How long should I brush my teeth?

Brush often and for longer than expected. Brushing twice a day is recommended, but experts say that three times a day is best. Most people do not brush for long enough. Brushing for at least 2 minutes is recommended. Divide the mouth into four different sections and brush each section for at least 30 seconds each. There are toothbrushes that track brushing patterns and report back to the user through a smartphone app.

How do I properly brush my teeth?

Do not go overboard with brushing. Although two to three times a day might be the ideal number to brush, brushing more frequently or for extended periods of time can cause enamel abrasion and damage to your gums. Bearing down too hard can irritate your gums or cause bleeding. It takes much less pressure to loosen plaque than you’d expect. Aggressive back and forth strokes can cause damage to the tooth-gum line when used with an abrasive toothpaste. Use an up and down motion with short stokes while holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth.

Be thorough so as to remove plaque that may “hide” in your mouth. Begin brushing on the outside surface of your back molars, working your way around the arch starting on from one side working your way to the opposite molars. Then roll the brush over the inner surface of the back molars and back to the starting side. Of course, cleaning your tongue is just as important as cleaning your teeth. This is not only to disrupt the plaque on the tongue but this helps to keep your breath fresh. It’s more ideal to use a tongue scraper to clean your tongue. I recommend the Tongue Squigi as it follows the anatomy of the tongue and has a flexible rubber tip so it’s gentle on the tongue.

It’s easier to have a brushing method in place because it will ensure that you cover all areas. Also remember to maintain the 45 degree brushing angle, because this will ensure that you brush the gum-line area of the tooth which removes the plaque which causes gingivitis (gum inflammation) and decay (cavities).

What are some basic oral hygiene instructions?

There are some important elements to get right when properly caring for our mouth, including:

  • Choose the right toothbrush – The size of your mouth is probably something you have never considered when thinking about a toothbrush. If you have to strain to open your mouth wide enough, then your brush is probably too big. Check the width of any new toothbrush against the one that you currently use, which will ensure comfort and a proper fit. Check with your dentist for additional guidance on the best toothbrush size for you.
  • The bristles of a toothbrush come in extra-soft (sensitive), soft and medium firmness. The American Dental Association (ADA) states that the best toothbrushes have soft bristles. I recommend the Perio Toothbrush or any extra soft tapered bristle brush. Electric toothbrushes have become very popular in the last decade. Electric toothbrushes can make the job easier, especially for those with hand, shoulder or arm trouble or arthritis. However, manual toothbrushes can be just as effective as an electric if used properly.
  • Choose your products with care – Toothpastes with whitening agents usually contain an abrasive that can be harsh on the surfaces of teeth. Switching to a basic or natural toothpaste with a low abrasive index is recommended for daily use. Toothpaste containing flouride or one of the newer re-mineralization (enamel strengthening) ingredients is preferred as it provides additional cavity protection. If you need to brighten your smile, check with your dentist about professional bleaching options. One can maintain white teeth by alternating between regular and whitening toothpaste or use an at home bleaching system.
  • Watch out for acidic foods and drinks – Acid can soften tooth enamel. Soda, energy drinks, coffee and many juices contain acid that erode enamel. If you do consume an acidic food or beverage, wait 30 minutes before brushing. By waiting, your saliva is given time to restore tooth enamel. When teeth are softened by acid, brushing actually damages the enamel further by wearing away the demineralized(softened)enamel
  • Keep your toothbrush clean – Always rinse your brush. Germs from the mouth will contaminate a brush and leftover toothpaste will harden the bristles. To clean the brush, don’t use a disinfectant but just rinse and let air dry. Storing a brush in a case where it will stay damp promotes unhealthy bacteria from growing.
  • Store your brush the proper way – The bathroom is not the cleanest place to store your toothbrush, but it is the most convenient. Keep your brush upright in a holder. Don’t leave it flat on a counter. Germs from the toilet or sink might settle on the counter exposing your brush to these harmful germs. Let the brush air dry. Moist brushes promote bacteria growth. When placing your brush in a container for travel, make sure the case allows air to flow allowing the brush to air dry.
  • Change out your brush – The American Dental Association suggests replacing a toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. Check the bristles. If the bristles look flat, frayed or start to break apart, it is time to buy a new brush. Consult with your dentist during your dental cleanings about the best toothbrush for your mouth.

If you are looking for a dentist in the Irvine CA, or a dentist in the Orange County California area, contact the dental office of Dr. Colin Suzman (949.552.6334) located in Stonecreek Plaza .  He offers a comprehensive range of dental services ranging from teeth cleaning, cavity prevention and repair, oral cancer screening, dental implants as well as surgical and cosmetic dentistry (bonding and veneers)

Who is Dr. Suzman?

Dr. Suzman has built an extensive practice focusing on general and cosmetic dentistry as well as periodontal (gum disease) and implant dentistry. Dr. Suzman will transform your smile by giving you a straighter, brighter and healthier smile. The friendly and competent staff will ensure your visit is as comfortable as possible.  Patients of all ages are accepted. New patient forms can be downloaded from our website for your convenience and new patients are gladly accepted.

Our office is conveniently located in the Woodbridge Village in Irvine, California on the corner of Barranca Parkway and West Yale Loop, one block south of Culver Blvd. Call us today to schedule your dental appointment. 949-552-6334. Office is open Monday – Thursday from 8:00am to 5:00pm.