Brushing our teeth is something we’ve all done since we were young. Given how often we do it, taking care of our teeth seems obvious and straightforward. How much thought could it really require?
Apparently, quite a lot. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your pearly whites – well – pearly white. Because who doesn’t want a grin like James Franco?
1. Actually brush your teeth properly
This sounds like a bit of a no-brainer, because as most of us already know, the general consensus is that you should brush your teeth twice a day, for about two minutes each time.
But because this is such a no-brainer, we often forget to brush for the full two minutes. Cosmetic dentist Lana Rozenberg says that most people actually brush their teeth “for just 30 seconds”” which is only a quarter of the recommended time. So take your time, people. Brush your teeth with the love they deserve.
2. Don’t use mouthwash after brushing
It’s tempting to get all of the teeth business out of the way in one go, but if you’re going to use mouthwash, don’t do it after brushing. If you do, you’re going to undo all that hard work you spent brushing in those long 2 minutes before. Seriously, time seems to slow down when you’re brushing your teeth. Don’t let that effort go to waste.
Even if your mouthwash has fluoride in it, by using it straight after brushing your teeth you end up rinsing away the fluoride that was left on your teeth from the toothpaste. This is the same reason it’s recommended not to rinse your mouth with water immediately after brushing.
If you do want to use mouthwash, because it’s still useful if you use it right, try and do it at another time.
3. It’s possible to over-brush
Given that most of us don’t take enough time when we brush, it sounds contradictory to think that we could possibly over-brush. If anything, it’s probably under-brushing we should be worried about, right?
Wrong. In fact, Dr. Mark Burhenne from the (rather aptly named) site ‘Ask the Dentist’ estimates that about 80% of us are over-brushing. So how is it possible for us to both be not brushing long enough, yet also brushing too much?
The answer is partly in poor brushing technique, but is also due to using toothbrushes that are too old. This brings us to the next point.
4. Replace your toothbrush regularly
This is the other key factor in over-brushing that often gets overlooked. Dr. Mark Burhenne explains it pretty well: “The smoothness of your bristles… gets worn away back to its original jaggedness via brushing… the key is to throw away your toothbrush before the bristles splay, because by that point, it’s too late. Splayed bristles mean you’ve been using a worn toothbrush that is too abrasive and has been wearing away your tooth structure.”
If you’re like me, and the bristles on your toothbrush look like they’re attempting to do the splits, then you’re probably in the category of people who need to replace their toothbrush. In the words of Shia LaBeouf, just do it.
5. Brush your tongue
Now, depending on whether you’ve heard of this before or not, this could sound very weird, but even so, it’s still pretty important. When it comes to your tongue, using mouthwash or water is unfortunately not enough. This is because it’s covered in a thin layer of mucus which traps food particles that won’t get fully removed by simply rinsing. Yeah, try not to think about that next time you’re playing tonsil tennis with someone.
Brushing your tongue with a tongue scrubber, or even just a normal toothbrush (though some do come with handy tongue scrubbers on the back) can drastically improve bad breathe and will improve your overall oral hygiene.
6. Don’t brush after puking
If you’ve got a stomach bug, or after an “eventful” night out, one of the first things you often feel like doing after throwing up is brushing your teeth. But as tempting as it is, it’s best to leave the brushing till later.
The stomach acid in your puke can soften your tooth enamel, and scrubbing that against your teeth with a toothbrush is only going to lead to further damage. It’s recommended that you try and wait at least an hour before brushing, though it is helpful to rinse your mouth with water in the meantime to help remove some of the acid.
It’s also for this reason that you should avoid brushing your teeth after eating anything acidic – so no brushing immediately after orange juice or soft drinks. Colgate recommends brushing your teeth before eating anything acidic, and then drinking a glass of water afterwards to wash the acidity away. That being said, all I can think when that comes to mind is: toothpaste plus orange juice does not equal great taste. So I may have to skip the perfect tooth routine on this one.