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Brushing teeth is an integral part of dental hygiene, and even though it is the aspect most people are familiar with, there are tips that can make it even more effective. Properly brushing teeth can help prevent gingivitis, cavities, and gum disease, as well as reducing the build-up of tartar. Brushing one’s teeth is best accompanied by a regimen of daily flossing, as well as regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and check-ups. Learning proper brushing technique will ensure optimum gum and dental health, and help stave off the loss of teeth or serious medical problems.
The history of brushing teeth dates back thousands of years, with many tribal cultures using sticks to brush their teeth. Often these sticks would be specially cut to help them fit between the teeth, as well as clean the surfaces, and they would sometimes be used with special leaves to help them clean even more effectively. In other cases, feathers, bones, and even porcupine quills were used as toothbrushes. The origins of the modern toothbrush can be traced back to 14th century China, where hog’s hair was attached to a stick to create something approximating modern bristles.
The bristles are what help clean your teeth, so it is important to find bristles that are right for your mouth. You want bristles that are as firm as feels comfortable to your mouth, so that you don’t have to use excessive force to feel like you’re cleaning your teeth. Make sure to find a grip that is comfortable, as well. You want a toothbrush with a handle that you can hold easily without clutching it tightly, and that is conducive to brushing from different angles. Many dentists recommend electric toothbrushes, as they reduce the amount of pressure necessary to clean teeth effectively.
Brushing teeth should be done twice a day, and most people find it easiest to brush in the morning after waking up, and immediately before bed at night. When brushing, try not to use too much force, and make sure to brush for at least a few minutes, to clean the teeth thoroughly. For the flat chewing surfaces of your teeth, hold the brush so that the back behind the bristles is roughly parallel to the teeth, and brush with a steady back and forth motion. For the area directly behind the front teeth, hold the brush vertically, and work it up and down slowly and steadily. For the fronts and backs of the rest of your teeth, hold the brush at roughly a forty-five degree angle and move the brush in short strokes all the way down the teeth to where they meet the gums.
Finding a suitable toothpaste is also an important part of brushing teeth. Most people believe you should find a toothpaste with fluoride in it, as this ingredient helps fight cavities. Others look for toothpastes that contain natural abrasives such as baking soda. If you have trouble with discoloration, it may be worth considering a toothpaste with a whitening agent added, and if you are prone to severe tartar buildup you may want to find a toothpaste with stronger anti-tartar ingredients.
I prefer a toothbrush with medium or soft bristles. The hard bristles tend to make my gums sore.
I also make sure I brush my tongue, especially in the mornings. That really helps get rid of bad morning breath. I have a toothbrush that has a textured, rubberized patch on the back, and it's great for brushing my tongue, the roof of my mouth, and the insides of my cheeks. That knocks out bad breath.
I've heard that the most important time to brush is before bedtime, so I always try to make a point of brushing my teeth before I go to bed.
We have a fluoridated water system, so a fluoride toothpaste isn't a big deal to me. I have to be really careful about my toothpastes, though. I am apparently allergic to some substances in toothpaste, and I will get a mouth ulcer from them. They hurt and I hate them.
I generally use a baking soda toothpaste -- in a paste form, not gel. Gel toothpastes will pop up an ulcer in my mouth in a heartbeat. I find I do better when I use a toothpaste that's as natural as possible. I've been known to use plain baking soda when I was having problems with frequent mouth ulcers.