Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Brushing Your Teeth, Gums, and Tongue

We recommend brushing your teeth twice a day. Brush once in the morning to get rid of that morning mouth and the bacteria that have grown over night, and once at night to remove the bacteria and food that have accumulated during the day. If you could brush perfectly and disturb all the bacteria completely you would only have to brush once a day. Unfortunately most of us are not perfect and we miss some bacteria here and there so that brushing twice a day gives us another chance to get to every surface.

Some people get carried away and brush almost every chance they get, often because of concerns regarding bad breath or to try to make their teeth whiter. Suffice to say if you thoroughly clean your teeth, and you still have bad breath, brushing them again is not going to solve the problem.

Brushing you Tongue

Brushing your tongue, however, may help to eliminate bad breath. The actual cause of tongue bad breath is bacteria that metabolize Brushing-teeththe dead cells and food found in the crevices on the tongue and produce a gas containing sulfur, the same element that gives rotten eggs their wonderful smell. Sterilizing the tongue or the mouth is impossible but we can disrupt the bacteria and remove the dead cells and food by cleaning the surface of the tongue with a toothbrush, or a tongue scrapper. In fact, if you stick your tongue out and see that it is coated you have a higher chance of having bad breath. 

Over brushing your teeth in an attempt to whiten them is actually harmful because you wear the enamel away which then lets the yellower/darker portion of the tooth show through. Brushing too frequently is just as destructive to teeth and gums as brushing too hard.

Some people think they can overcome the guilt of bad habits like soda drinking, coffee with sugar, sour candies and other decay causing substances by immediately brushing their teeth. Unfortunately, studies have shown that the teeth are softened by the acid in these sugary items, and teeth are more susceptible to being worn away if brushed immediately. A better idea is to rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash. We recommend the fluoride mouthwash because it will taste terrible and at least make you feel like you paid for your sins.

How Should you Brush your Teeth?

Brush your teeth carefully and thoroughly. The idea is to hit every surface to disturb the bacteria. Time on task is important. Studies have shown that time spent is more important than specific toothbrushes. If you spend two minutes brushing you probably can’t help but hit every surface. Two minutes is a long time brushing. Try it you will be amazed. Most people spend less than 30 seconds. Automatic toothbrushes with timers and other timing devices can help to keep you on task long enough.

Tips that we have found useful for our patients:

  • The most popular brushing technique emphasizes placing the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and using small circular strokes.  Develop a system and order in your mouth so that you brush every tooth surface. Unfortunately most people start and spend too much time brushing the easiest place to brush; the corner of the mouth, by the cuspid or eye tooth. This area is the most common site of excessive wear and gum loss.

  • Our recommendation is that you start on the inside of the lower teeth next to the tongue, one of the most difficult and most neglected areas.  Make sure you close your mouth and relax your cheeks. Many people open their mouth slightly when brushing and this prevents them from reaching the back surface of the molars. Other patients use their cheek muscles to force the toothbrush against the teeth causing excessive wear.

  • Use warm water to further soften the bristles of the toothbrush. This also helps with teeth that have become sensitive to cold because of overzealous brushing.

  • Do not push or exert excessive pressure on the toothbrush against the gums. This will simply wear away the teeth and gums.

  • Do not use a hard brush, and do not brush rapidly and horizontally across the teeth and gums. This technique can tear away the gums and abrade the teeth causing sensitive teeth.

  • Use a smaller brush. The smaller head allows access to the back teeth more easily especially for those with small mouths.

  • The inside of the lower front teeth are difficult to reach because of the narrow space. We have found the best way to reach this area is by holding the toothbrush vertically, literally with your hand up by your nose and using small vertical strokes.

  • Do not use too much toothpaste. Too much paste simply makes your mouth fill up with foam and makes you want to spit. Too much toothpaste reduces can actually reduce the time spent brushing because of the excessive amount of toothpaste that needs to be spit out.

Conclusion

Properly brushing your teeth twice a day is a big step in maintaining great oral health. Our Boulder dental office performs routine cleanings and other advanced dentistry practices daily. To learn more on how to achieve optimum oral health, schedule an appointment today or call us at 303.544.9636.

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