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Brushing Your Teeth

Why It’s So Important & How To Brush Properly For Toddlers, Children, Adults & Seniors

The importance of brushing our teeth has been instilled in us at a very early age. Though most of us have formed a daily brushing habit by the time we are adults, it’s surprising that not all of us brush our teeth properly. This may be due to poor oral hygiene training in the formative years, or it could be as simple as oral health taking a back seat because of everything else going on in our adult lives. However, one must remember that no matter how busy life gets, health, including that of your teeth, should be prioritised. Perhaps it’s time for a refresher lesson on brushing and the proper techniques of brushing your teeth.

Why Brushing Your Teeth is Important

When we eat, the leftover bits of food that get lodged between our teeth become plaque. The buildup of plaque causes cavities, tooth decay and gum disease, which are the primary reasons for early teeth loss. Brushing prevents plaque from accumulating on your teeth, helping your teeth remain intact for longer. Brushing your teeth with toothpaste also helps strengthen the teeth with fluoride, which protects the enamel and any exposed roots.

However, brushing alone is not enough to keep plaque from inhabiting gaps in your teeth. You must use the correct brushing technique to ensure that food and plaque build-up will be removed.

The Proper Brushing Technique

There are different brushing techniques according to motion or movement that people do. One of them is the side-to-side movement. It’s the most common brushing method where the bristles are moved gently in a horizontal scrubbing motion (left to right). Despite its popularity, dentists do not recommend this technique because it causes Cervical Abrasion as time goes by.

Some people do the rotary brushing motion, where the bristles are moved in circles on each tooth surface. It’s better than the side-by-side motion but still may not remove all pieces of food between your teeth.

The most effective and proper brushing technique is the vibratory motion. This is a more effective way to brush your teeth because it helps to remove the plaque between teeth and below the gum line. Bristles are positioned 45 degrees at the gingival margin, and then short back and forth strokes are done creating a vibratory motion.

Aside from the proper brushing technique, there are specific things that should be done when brushing your teeth according to your age group.

Brushing Teeth For Babies & Toddlers

Babies will begin teething from ages 4 to 10 months and it’s good to introduce them to brushing as soon as the first tooth comes out. Before that, get them used to teeth cleaning by wiping their gums with a clean soft cloth at least two times a day. Then, switch to a soft children’s toothbrush. Choose one that has a small oval head, bristles with different height, and a non-slip handle.

Clean their teeth with water only and refrain from using toothpaste until they reach 18 months old. Once there are at least 2 teeth side by side, you can introduce flossing to toddlers. Make sure to ask your dentist for the proper way of doing it. When they become two years of age or older, you can show them how to brush their teeth on their own. Read our article on dental health for babies and toddlers for more information.

Brushing Teeth For Children

At three years old, children already have a complete set of baby teeth. Parents should supervise them when brushing until they reach 7 or 8 years old when permanent teeth start to show up. Although baby teeth are temporary, they should be taken care of and cleaned. If your child’s baby teeth are infected with plaque, the permanent teeth can also be affected.

Children up to 11 years old should brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush. They can use toothpaste now, but make sure not to let them swallow it. They should also floss every day with supervision from the parents.

Brushing Teeth For Teenagers

Teenagers are at the stage of exploration, not just with food, but also with other things like smoking. If you’re a teenager, your teeth are in danger of decay or worse if not properly taken care of. That’s why brushing regularly is more important than ever. It should be done twice a day and for two minutes at a time. Use only a pea-size amount of toothpaste then spit it out (no need to rinse). Never brush your teeth too hard and make sure to always apply the proper brushing technique.

When buying your toothbrush, choose a soft-bristled variety with a flexible neck. You can also use an electric toothbrush. Whichever type of toothbrush you choose, make sure to replace it after three months.

Brushing Teeth For Adults

Adult life can get busy, so much so that brushing your teeth can be neglected or done in a hurry. It’s important to go back to the basics of brushing your teeth at least twice a day and for no less than two minutes at a time. Flossing is also very important when you’re an adult. Food debris may remain between your teeth despite brushing, and flossing is the best way to remove it. Make flossing a habit to maintain good oral health.

Brushing Teeth For Seniors

If you reach retirement age and still have most of your teeth, then you did a very good job. But our work does not end there because you still have to take care of your teeth, just like when you were younger. There could be challenges, like the inability to stand for too long and the difficulty to grip objects.

Don’t worry. You can brush your teeth while sitting down and choose a toothbrush with a larger handle. You can also try wrapping the handle with cloth for easier handling. Just like before, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. And lastly, ensure that you brush very gently, as your teeth and gums are more sensitive.

Oral Healthcare At Pymble Dental

Brushing your teeth is very important whichever age group you may belong to, but it’s also just as important to get regular dental check-ups if you want to maintain good oral health. Pymble Dental provides a wide range of general, preventative and cosmetic dental treatments in Sydney’s North Shore.

Make an appointment now and let our friendly dentists take care of you and your family’s dental health.

Helpful Resources

Brushing Your Teeth
What to do in a Dental Emergency
Dental Health for Babies & Toddlers
Bruxism & Teeth Grinding
Causes of Sensitive Teeth

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