4 Common Questions About Brushing Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth is the best way to keep your teeth healthy and reduce the risk of ailments like cavities and gum disease. The idea of tooth brushing is pretty simple at its core, but actually, many patients do have a few lingering questions about this care. The following are some of the most common questions asked.

1. What Is the Best Toothpaste?

There is no single toothpaste that works best for everyone, and many great toothpastes on the market do a good job of cleaning your teeth and preventing decay. Don't worry too much about the brand, and instead, look for the ADA seal.

The ADA seal indicates that the American Dental Association has approved the toothpaste as being safe, effective, and free from sugar and other flavoring agents that might contribute to tooth decay. It also indicates that the toothpaste contains fluoride, which is an essential ingredient for strengthening tooth enamel and preventing cavities.

If you have sensitive teeth, look for a toothpaste designed to reduce sensitivity. Your dentist can prescribe a stronger one if the over-the-counter options are not helping enough. If you want whiter teeth, a whitening toothpaste that caries the ADA seal may help gently whiten your teeth. These toothpastes generally contain mild abrasives, so they're better at scrubbing stains from the surface of your teeth.

2. Should You Brush Before or After Breakfast?

Although instinct may tell you that you should brush your teeth immediately after eating, you're actually better off brushing as soon as you wake up — and then eating breakfast. If you brush too soon after eating anything acidic or sugary, the abrasive action of brushing may actually do more damage to your tooth enamel.

By brushing immediately upon waking, you're removing bacteria and acids that accumulated on your teeth overnight. After you eat, rinse your mouth well with water or mouthwash to remove food particles and sugar.

3. How Long Do You Need to Brush?

Many people rush through brushing their teeth, and as a result, they miss spots and leave plaque in some areas. When you rush, you're also more likely to brush too hard, which can cause enamel damage and tooth sensitivity.

Brushing for two minutes twice per day is sufficient, but if you can manage to spend three minutes brushing your teeth, that's even better. Focus on spending at least 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth so you can be sure all of your teeth get equal attention. Setting a timer to buzz every 30 seconds, reminding you to move onto the next quadrant, can help you develop better brushing habits if you tend to rush.

If you tend to apply too much pressure when brushing, another tip is to brush with your nondominant hand. You'll automatically brush more gently.

4. Why Do Your Teeth Hurt After Brushing?

Sometimes patients avoid brushing their teeth because of pain experienced after brushing. Your teeth should not hurt after brushing. This is a sign that something is wrong — either with your teeth, your gums, or your brushing technique.

If your teeth are sensitive after brushing, this could indicate tooth decay, weak enamel, or gum disease. If your gums are sore, this is also an indicator of gum disease, which is an infection of the gum tissue.

Have your dentist take a look at your teeth and gums to see what is amiss. If everything looks normal, you are probably just using too stiff of a toothbrush. Switch to a soft-bristled brush, and be gentler when brushing; the pain should subside.

Hopefully you now know a little more about brushing your teeth. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a professional cleaning appointment, contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC.